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Cross-country degree recognition & refugee universities/vocational training

Creating a pathway to recognize refugees credentials, development of culturally and linguistically appropriate post-secondary education

Photo of Sara Marques
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Many refugees are highly educated and credentialed in their country of origin. After displacement they find that they cannot be employed. This is due to language limitations, as well as credentials not being recognized in the new country of residence. A policy effort to establish a process to translate credentials to the new country could dramatically alleviate some of this stress and improve refugee employment possibility outside the refugee camp, as well as creating opportunities for education and business development within the community. In camps where registration of refugees is attained, this process could be initiated at this point. This process would allow qualified refugees to work in partnership with the local university to establish a program of study for refugee youth at the post-secondary level. This approach opens up the possibility for employment, cross-cultural collaboration (between university and refugee faculty and youth) and for young refugees to access post-secondary education (or vocational training). A refugee run university or vocational training program would help address language & cultural barriers that may result from externally operated programs.


Refugee youth, refugee adults, local community


I might visualize the process of credential translation and university development (rough sketch) and seek feedback on these. This idea was inspired by a NPR report about Syrian refugees in Turkey which is seeking to create a university to be staffed by professors that are refugees. I would explore this program design more thoroughly and perhaps present this for feedback to both small and large refugee settings to see if it could be adapted.


It would be critical to get feedback from destination country policy makers to determine feasibility of creating a credential translation process. I would also like to talk to program directors who have led initiatives to support the development of refugee run education at any level, and refugees who might be potential professors at a refugee run site. I would try to identify these individuals through local UN representatives in a large and small refugee camp.


San Francisco, CA, United States


  • This idea is meant to inspire - I hope someone else takes it on.


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Photo of Les LaMotte

Sara, perfect... if this can be done in an electronic card or pendent format then it could be updated by each school they affiliate and pass specific areas. Additionally, the biggest problem in Africa for sure is Medical information and medical records and it this could be added then doctor would not have to do all the research on people who may only come in for help every year... with no real electronic systems available in most parts and they are still on paper and it goes no where and is definitely not a system that works. So, I totally support you idea... however are you designing the ability or asking for help to accomplish it? The other challenge is that Medical Records and possibly educational records could be subject to national standards of security and therefore to use it in any country you would have to do a ton of research or get a larger body such as the UNICEF involved, however, that means we are talking about mega money to do it. I would like to make it simpler and easy to put into play and they need it IMMEDIATELY... we have 2 mil. refugees from South Sudan in W. Ethiopia in Matar where we not only developed the village of now 150,000 but have a orphanage with over 1,500 children out of the 50,000 that are there right now with NO SUPPORT! Data Card international location is here in Minneapolis where I live and the technology for this has been developed for the Military over 25 years ago... however only implemented in the US Army and other military. The technology is out there such as the Debit Cards developed to use on vending machines... now with the cheap swipe and scan of iPhones and smart phones, there are many abilities that can be put in to very easily transferable Apps. So it requires a data base held information that is accessible by phone in any country. This is a very large extremely expensive approach but very needed. I would like to see a simple App that can be developed so that it can work in a smaller circle i.e. databases that local schools could have to update the patient or student card or pendent so that as they live in the bush or village they can make sure they don't loose the device, which is unfortunately very possible. Now, I am well aware that they use under the skin info for pets, and it is all but approved for humans... however, it is to personally invasive at least at this time. Where ever form it takes it needs to be remastered if they loose it which suggests a national or regional database that can keep the info secure so they can obtain a new device in the future. Remember the only electronic gear that these refugees may have is their cell phones and they are NOT necessarily smart phones, and it is rare that they would have access to a computer or tablet as they do not have connectivity. That is where all of these come together with our area delivery system which is WIFI in 10-25 mile radius for providing a computer delivery of educational information. Thus if these towers (poles with data delivery device, solar and wind power) could then collect such data and then delivery it via a sat phone to regional areas for uploading the bush areas this could be a very in expensive system. As our total college degree program delivery is only $250 for the device and software. So setting up a network of hundreds of these could make a total low budget connection system costing far less than a full WIFI or cell phone system. So at least there could have emergency information that could go through from remote areas accessible with anyone with a phone or tablet as well. So, I love your comments and could you join with me so we can get this all coordinated? Please join us...

Photo of Sara Marques

Really interesting idea marrying the health card and education/data card. I am not working on this directly right now...just contributing ideas...but think this is a really important and highly challenging topic.

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