Inclusive higher education must cater for refugees

Inclusive higher education must cater for refugees Patrick Blessinger and Enakshi Sengupta St. John's University (NYC), USA and American University of Kurdistan   Every year on 20 June World Refugee Day is held to promote awareness of the plight of millions of refugees worldwide.  Currently, according to the UNHCR Population Statistics Database, more than 65 million people worldwide (roughly 1% of the world’s population) are displaced from their homes due to war, persecution, extreme violence, man-made disasters and similar factors. Of these displaced persons, about 20 million are classified as refugees, roughly the same number of people who were displaced worldwide as a result of World War II. Established in 1950, the UN Refugee Agency or UNHCR has become the world’s leading agency and programme responsible for the protection of refugees worldwide. In its capacity as the voice for refugees and other displaced persons, it leads international efforts to protect the rights of refugees and to...

Why higher education must be more inclusive

Why higher education must be more inclusive Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   The Cyrus Cylinder is widely considered to be the world’s first charter of human rights. Created in 539 BC by Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, it declared religious tolerance for all.  In addition, the modern human rights movement can be traced to two key political revolutions in the late 18th century: the American Revolution and the French Revolution. The two key documents to emerge from these revolutions were the US Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Both documents emphasised political and civil rights. The rights codified in these documents were not, however, initially extended to all people in those nations, most notably women and minorities. For instance, it took a civil war in the United States, and other national movements, to extend basic constitutional rights...

Education for rehabilitation and rebuilding confidence in war-torn children: Perspective from a Yezidi from Camp Khangee in Northern Iraq

Education for rehabilitation and rebuilding confidence in war-torn children: Perspective from a Yezidi from Camp Khangee in Northern Iraq Enakshi Sengupta The American University of Kurdistan   “I want to be educated, it is my only way to fight Daesh” - Yezidi Refugee   When the Education for All (EFA) goal was declared at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal in April 2000, many educators could not have imagined that the world would be so torn by war and conflict over the years since the forum. A large number of the world population is homeless, facing genocide and have been displaced from their home country due to war, political instability, or religious repression. According to a recent press release from UNICEF, it is estimated that more than 14 million children across Syria, Libya and Iraq are now suffering from the escalating conflict in those regions. With the conflict in...

Afghan students face integrational issues in universities

Afghan students face integrational issues in universities Enakshi Sengupta American University of Kurdistan, Kurdistan, Northern Iraq “We carry our bag full of books and they think we have bombs with us”. “If we wear a hijab (head scarf) they think we are different from them and will not understand their jokes.” “Why do I have to take the initiative of befriending them, why do I need to be nice to them or smile at them?”(Student A, from the Qualitative study). Afghanistan’s nation-wide literacy rate has seen a country wide growth since the year 2008. The youth literacy rates has increased by more than 16% and at present more than 8 million students are enrolled in schools, including more than 2.5 million girls. In 2013, one million Afghan learners are enrolled in schools with the assistance received from USAID. (http://www.usaid.gov/afghanistan/education). With the world opening its doors to Afghan students it is...

A catalyst for change

A catalyst for change Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association The continuing universalisation of higher education reflects the growing democratisation of knowledge around the world. In this emerging paradigm, higher learning is no longer the province of the knowledge elite, but is increasingly available to all. For instance, with the move towards open educational resources, massive open online courses, open universities, and the like, access to higher learning is now available to virtually anyone. In many respects, the continued de-monopolisation of higher learning allows for greater political, social, economic and personal empowerment. Democratising knowledge for all Of course, this is not a new phenomenon. Arguably, the first significant democratisation of knowledge occurred with the advent of the Printing Revolution in the 15th century with the invention of the printing press. The wide-ranging utility of the printing press laid the foundation for future political, social, economic and scientific revolutions such...

Why global higher education must be democratised

Why global higher education must be democratised Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association In the broadest sense of the word, democratization is the application of democratic principles and the process of transitioning to a system based on such principles. Thus, the principles of democracy can be applied to any structure or system, not strictly governmental or political systems. The core universal principles of democracy include freedom, responsibility, and the equality and protection of universal human rights. Individual freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin known as personal agency – the extent to which agency is allowed to develop is the degree to which self-determination is afforded to people. A human right is a birthright that every human being is entitled to by virtue of being human – the extent to which rights are protected determines the degree to which justice is afforded to people....

Lifelong education as an equalizer

Lifelong education as an equalizer Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association Throughout much of human history hereditary privilege was often used as a means of organising society (for example, politically, economically and socially) and allocating resources. Hereditary privilege was not determined by one’s talents or skills or motivation or any other self-determining factor but rather by the class, gender and race one was born into. In other words, throughout much of human history, one’s status within society and one’s lot in life, to a large degree, was determined primarily by factors beyond one’s own control. Revolutions upset the established order The hereditary systems of power and privilege tended to create a system wherein the ruling class benefited by maintaining the status quo and by maintaining a monopoly over how resources were allocated within society. This is not surprising since established orders have a vested interest in maintaining...

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