To mark this year’s World Refugee Day on 20 June, the Federal Foreign Office, together with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), is hosting an international conference “The Other 1 Percent – Refugee Students at Higher Education Institutions Worldwide” on 18 and 19 June 2019 in the Weltsaal of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. Access to higher education is essential for refugees and host countries and is thus a central focus of the conference.
While 36 percent of young people around the world go on to higher education, the figure among refugees is only around one percent – a shockingly low figure,
as Foreign Minister Maas commented ahead of the conference.
Our goal therefore needs to be to give many more refugees who have fled war and suffering the opportunity to lead a self-determined life. The only way to do this is to ensure they have access to education. Education provides opportunities for the future and thus furthers integration. And through education we can make a long-term contribution to conflict prevention.
Education is a key building block of sustainable solutions for refugee situations as anchored in the Global Compact on Refugees. This can only work if all those involved, including the refugees themselves, work closely together. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi will welcome a delegation of refugee students as well as many international experts.
Prior to the conference, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees commented:
Higher education is not just an opportunity for individuals. It represents hope for entire refugee families and communities. Refugees who study are role models, enrich their host country and can one day help reconstruct their home countries. The refugee label fades and the focus is on human potential. Programmes such as the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative, Connected Learning and Leadership for Syria are showing the way forward but too few refugees have been able to benefit from these beacon projects thus far. It is necessary and sensible to increase our efforts. That is why we are working to ensure that 15% of refugees have access to higher education by 2030.
The aim of the conference is to highlight the importance of higher education in the refugee context and to focus attention on programmes such as the DAAD’s Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI). We are promoting higher education for excellent foreign students in Germany through large-scale scholarship programmes including those by the DAAD.
Education is central to integrating refugees. The key to mutual respect and understanding lies in exchange with one another and personal Encounters,
as DAAD President Professor Margret Wintermantel underscored.
Especially at this difficult time which makes particular demands of our sense of humanity and outward-looking co-existence, the DAAD has been working for many years to make it easier for refugees to enter and find their feet in higher education – both abroad and for a few years now also increasingly within Germany. Through our programmes Leadership for Syria, HOPES, Integra and Welcome, we have been able to significantly improve the prospects of many refugee students and will continue to engage with German higher education establishments to that end.
Parallel to the conference, a photo exhibition with the same name “The Other 1 Percent” focusing on students from the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative around the world will be on display in the Atrium of the Federal Foreign Office until 9 July. The exhibition tells the stories of refugee students in Kenya, Senegal, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Rwanda. They illustrate the process of conquering the sense of hopelessness about the future, overcoming major hurdles and prejudice, whether their own or that of others, and the way in which these people have nevertheless been able to write their own success stories.
For more information and the conference programme, click here.