A new programme to deliver higher education opportunities for over 6,300 Syrian refugees was launched at the Hague Institute for Global Justice, Netherlands, today.
The project, which is one of the largest education programmes in the world for refugees, will grant access to scholarships, undergraduate qualifications and vocational training to a total of 6,345 students in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey.
Qatari based association, Al-Fakhoora, which has nearly a decade of experience delivering education programmes to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, will be partnering with Dutch NGO, SPARK, to deliver the programme that will also be funded in part by the European Union.
Speaking to MEMO during the launch, Al-Fakhoora's Executive Director, Farooq Burney, mentioned that the new programme was seeking to replicate the success of its education projects in Gaza by "empowering", "inspiring" and "developing" thousands of Syrian refugees.
Burney said that there is a lot of discussion about educating refugees but not enough attention is paid to the unique challenges they face, especially in regards to their employment. "What job opportunities do they have?" and "will those jobs be available to them?"
While Syrian refugees are able to work in Turkey, their options are very limited in Jordan, Lebanon and some of the other neighbouring countries, Burney pointed out. Al-Fakhoora's new initiative, Burney believes, will not only provide refugees with skills to become employable in a global market, pointing to the e-commerce sector, but they will also develop leadership skills to take back to their community; skills which he believes will be invaluable to them for the rest of their lives.
A key goal of Al Fakhoora's programme is to expand opportunities for female refugee students. Some 800 dorm facilities will be made available in two universities in Turkey. Burney explained that there was an absence of a network of support, which is vital for female students of refugee communities. He was optimistic about the new programme filling this void in addition to providing psychological and social support for them.
The launch took place at a prestigious event, which was attended by notable figures including Sheikha Moza, the wife of the former Emir of Qatar; Chief ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda; Graça Machel, widow of former South African President Nelson Mandela.