Distance education in higher education in emergencies contexts

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Distance Education In Higher Education in Emergencies Contexts :

Introduction:

In emergency situation, ensure the continuity of education is very hard for all age groups. one of this age group are the high education learners.

This page is will address one of the programmes that target this age group at their refuge country through distance education. this example is Ci-Res Project Educational, Professional, And Cultural Development Of Refugees was launched in Algeria.

Justification:

In the statistics of the UNHCR 2020 at least 79.5 million people around the world were forced displaced. Nearly 26 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18.[1]

Also, in the statistics of UNHCR 2018 there were more than 69 million people who have been all around the world not only to the western countries, but they go to the developing countries like Algeria. These refugees were in a bad situation, desperately poor and they only receive little help or support. Algeria became a country of hosting refugee while it used to be a border country, where people used to cross to Europe through it.

When we look at the same statistics of UNHCR 2018 regarding sample of Europe countries, in Spain, Italy and France who are the partners in Ci-RES project the figures are high as follow: 17,526 in Spain, 337,143 in France and167,260 in Italy.

These high figures have motivated the three countries to participate in this project with Algeria that also is suffering from the same high number of refugees. Where Algeria is a transit and destination country for refugees and asylum-seekers from 41 nationalities as per 2021 UNHCR disaggregated as follow

from Western Sahara, Palestinians Liberia, Cameroon and from Syria.

Algeria government in partnership UNHCR, other UN agencies and NGOs continued to work collaboratively to ensure effective delivery of services in protection, water, education, health, nutrition and livelihoods. Algeria had yet to adopt national asylum legislation, with efforts towards the adoption of a refugee law ongoing.[2]

The reason of development of this project came from the need to take action for the refugees in general by creation of the institutional capacities of their integration in the system of higher education and allowing them to regularize their status to be fit in the country of refuge and the same to effectively integrated with in the Algerian society in general and in the Algerian higher education institutions.

The real problem of refugees who came with degrees and scientific background but most of the time the loss of their documentation prevents them for continue their education or from using them to get proper job opportunities.[3]

The main goal of the pilot CI-RES project is to create institutional capacities for the integration of refugees in Algerian higher education, to serve the huge number of refugee students in Algerian universities. It is the first national and structural project. this process is part of the broader aim of the European Union to support the modernization, accessibility, and internationalization of the field of higher education in eligible partner countries. Also, it attempts to achieve specific objectives cited as follows:

  • Strengthen the knowledge and skills of academic and administrative staff for better care of refugees at the university.
  • Rewrite and reformulate the internal regulations of partner HEIs through the introduction of provisions relating to the status of refugees, their rights and obligations to better define access, the organization of the training course and the integration of refugees into the university life;
  • Develop a reception system for refugees within the partner ESS through the creation of a centralized office at the level of the vice-rectorates responsible for external relations whose mission is to take care of refugees as well as annex offices, at the level of each faculty, attached to the vice dean in charge of international relations of all the partner universities.
  • Create a committee responsible for the academic and professional support of refugees during their training course.
  • Create and regulate institutional measures for the enhancement of the diplomas and skills of refugees, through the recognition of credits, the system of equivalence of diplomas, and the scientific skills of the latter.
  • Strengthen the government’s will in favor of refugees through the participation of the Algerian Ministry of Higher Education in the insertion of these measures into the already existing regulatory system.
  • Promote access to employment for refugees through the creation of a support system for refugees towards employment by mobilizing the public employment service and the employer who will work with the career center university and professional liaison office.
  • Help promote refugee culture and intercultural dialogue through partnership with civil society and the local community through the organization of cultural and sporting activities.

Moreover, this pilot project aims of finding solutions to the absence of internal institutional measures for the educational, psychological and professional care of refugees. They are also trying to build the capacities of the academic and administrative staff of the university for a better reception and improvement of the university life of refugee students, which will allow them to overcome their difficulties, particularly at the linguistic and practical levels.

The Ci-RES project is a pilot structural project intended for three (3) target groups mainly involved in the project plus a group that will be able to ensure the sustainability of the results at the Algerian national level.[4]

Target group:

Ci-RES is aimed at 5 categories of people:

1. Refuges enrolled at university and those who are not yet integrated

2. Teachers participating to the training and who become multipliers of the project.

3. Administrative institution members of the consortium and involved in the project, but also the entire university community, including the management bodies

4. Other students in some universities in the region, who can be trained through the implication of the MHESR.

5.Civil society which may benefit from this training. It will, thus, play a fundamental role in building democratic societies.

Activities:

The activities are divided with in three phases, they are connected together:

In phase one: research reports about the situational analysis at three levels the international, National and the institutional through legislation and practice with final report to be published (already done).

In phase two: the training of trainer using the MOOC platforms that targeted three levels: refugees the academic and administrative staff. For the refugees there were three modules of training: the right the legislation to the regulations about refugees and asylum, strengthen the linguistic capacities which are in Arabic and French (60 hours) and the practical analysis of the content through competency-based approach through MOOC platform and face to face workshops to conduct practical activities with the teachers who developed the course so they can create themselves the action needed to be integrated in the university they are studying at. As form of sustainability this platform after the project ends will be used by Algerian universities to be used not only nationally but also for students from the region and internationally.

The training for academic and administrative staff training each one will be conducted through two phases first theoretical and then practical which will be in the other European universities.

The final third phase: Creation of Practical Guide (cultural, professional and sport activities with the Algerian students) guided and planned by the students. In addition to an Open day for employability to meet with the partners and socio-economic partners of the city of the university to support them to find think about their future career and to continue their studies further while in the country of refuge and in the university. Also, in the university the institutional measures are Internal Regulation and Office dedicated to Refugees at the international level and at the level of the faculty.

Methodology:

The mission of this project is the Creation of Institutional Capacities of Refugees’ integration in Higher education under the action of Erasmus programme.

The methodology of this project is to make analysis at three levels: the first one is to make a global analysis of the situation refugees in the world with Europe partners and in Algeria. The level two is to make analysis at the nationally, each country will make analysis in their countries. in Spain, Italy, France and Algeria. The third one is the macro-level is the institutional level, each university will analyze the situation of refugees, what are the procedures is taking in receiving them and what are the efforts made to integrate them.

The main actors of this study are the refugees. However, this project is working with the full circle where every person is responsible: teachers, academic staff, and the administrative staff.

The reason for this study is the need to introduce the suggested institutional measures to take care and welcome appropriately the students in the higher educational system to ensure the integration. The students have to keep their origin, identity, religion and culture and in the same time to get accommodating and adapted into the system of the country where they live which is Algeria. which will be through SWAT analysis to study the strength, weaknesses, and the opportunities.[5]

Diffusion

The Ci-RES project is a national structural project (region 3) which responds to the Algerian national priorities for category 2 on "improving management and actions at the level of higher education institutions". It touches on the national theme "university services" and this through the creation and / or reformulation of the Algerian university institutions services that are partners of the project (in particular) and of all the Algerian universities (in general) through the involvement of the Algerian MESRS which, through its decision-making power, will ensure the application of the measures proposed by the Ci-RES consortium at the national university services level

The project attempts to offer new university services through the creation of an office dedicated to supporting and monitoring refugees through the creation of an institutional guide and internal regulations. The members of the refugee monitoring service will be affiliated with the vice-rectorate in charge of external relations of Algerian universities and will work in close collaboration with the university's professional liaison service

At the regional level, and still in category 2, the project touches on the priority of "equity, access to, and democratization of higher education through the integration of vulnerable groups, peoples and regions. It attaches particular importance to the question of refugees and their social and professional integration in general and within universities.[6]

The project is working with the government of Algeria it proposes operational measures through the creation of the office for refugee affairs and the internal regulations.

Treated fields are: Access for disadvantaged people, refugees Integration, Equity. Also, the project allows to promote the horizontal policies of the European Union which are: Culture, education and youth, Employment and social rights, Justice, internal affairs, citizens' rights and transversal policies, External Relations and Foreign Affairs. Thus, the project promotes and fosters regional integration and cooperation between partner countries through joint initiatives of the sharing good practices and cooperation project.

Celebration

Ci-RES makes it possible to reformulate the internal regulations of Algerian HEIs for the benefit of refugees in order to integrate provisions not only to improve the situation of refugees but also integrating them at the academic, cultural, societal and professional level.

The project will support the reforms initiated by Algeria since 2005, which need to be updated because of geopolitical changes.

Strengthen the capacities of refugees, academic, administrative, and technical staff, and the strengthening of the linguistic capacities of refugees. This process is part of the capacity-building action and the promotion of reforms initiated by the Algerian Ministry of Higher Education.

The Accessibility, equity, and access to higher education by vulnerable groups such as refugees through the third phase the practical workshops.[7]

Date:

The project timeline is three years. It started in January 2020, where the kick of meeting was in 10th and 11th of February. it will end by January 2023 through three phases.[8]

Participants:

The participants of this project are categorized into 4 groups as follow:

First: the government of Algeria, and the Algerian universities: Sétif 2 University(coordinator), Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific research, Kasdi Merbah Ouargla University, University of Tizi Ouzou

5. Bejaia university. Second, Spain Universities: University of La Rioja and University of La Corogne, Third, Italian Universities: UNIMED and University of Bergamo. Fourth, the French university of Paris Panthéon Sorbonne.[9]

What worked well and why?

Having clear strategy and centralized management, in the same time there where consultation in all decisions. For example, the coordinators always consult with the committees before taking any critical decision.

Having structured project with clear vision and supportive environment, where all project staff are like family, has helped to over come the side effects and minimize the risks of covid-19. Even though the delay that might happened due to the covid-19, the project management took advantage of this situation and start using distance learning that enabled students in remote areas to have access to the learning. Similarly, start using the hybrid teaching in the learning which built the capacity of teachers. Moreover, when covid-19 started the MOOC platform worked very well as it was accessible and used by mostly all university students (Algerian and refugees) more that the planned number (40 students) when covid-19 started.

The Algerian government and higher education system have played very positive role in this project and in putting concrete steps to support the refugees’ development and the continuity of their education. For example, that the education in Algeria is for free in addition to the accommodation, transportation, food and even the university provides schooler ship to the students.

What should we change next time?

To work on and publish communication stories more. The impact of this project on the life of students and the great efforts were put from Algerian government and Ci-RES project need to be reflected and published to show the world how they can change people life. For instance, one of the refugee students who was stressed and scared from doing tangible steps toward her life, how this project changed her life and perspective of interacting with others and sharing her experiences and value them. This will be an eye opener also for other refugee students on the reality of others and that their dreams can come true and that they are heard and valued.

To increase the access to the data not only through the statistics but also using other methods that reflects the reality even better.

Conclusions:

The current situation in Algeria supports the introduction of institutional capacities for the integration of refugees into the higher education. To help the refugee students to change their behaviors from going to the university for only studying to be active actors in the life of the university. This can be achieved through the third phase of this project which will expose them to practical experiences to be part from the community and increase their feeling of belonging to this community with respecting their identity and their background. In addition to offering better living conditions in global terms is a prerequisite for development. This in turn will help tackle all forms of discrimination and inequality.

links

https://www.ciresproject.eu/en/home/ https://www.uni-med.net/progetti/ci-res https://www.pantheonsorbonne.fr

References