60 million people are on the run worldwide. This is more than at any time since the Second World War. They are fleeing war, violence, poverty, a lack of prospects and the consequences of climate change. Two-thirds of them are internal refugees. Those who flee their countries choose a neighbouring country in most cases. In global terms, it is only a relatively small amount of people who take the perilous route to Northern Europe.
Germany is expecting to receive a million refugees by the end of the year. This means that the country faces challenges on a scale, which has never been seen before. This is the type of challenge faced by host countries the world over, and applies to developing nations in particular. Receiving refugees poses a two-fold challenge for many of these countries, given that they themselves have to struggle with major problems of a social, economic and structural nature. This calls for international development cooperation: In supporting the receiving countries, in crisis prevention and when combating the causes of flight in the countries of origin.
The German Adult Education Association (Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband e.V.) is facing these challenges at both national and international level. Adult Education Centres play a leading role nationwide in contributing towards the work with refugees, forming local centres for integration and intercultural learning. In international terms, the Association carries out structure-creating educational work for refugees through its Institute for International Cooperation, DVV International. We understand educational work not only as a necessary service that is provided in a crisis. Education furthermore provides a major structural contribution in overall terms, supporting crisis prevention and helping people to find long-term prospects at home.
Whilst primary significance attaches to humanitarian aid and human rights protection, the broader circumstances soon become important for refugees: They need to acquire new skills in areas such as languages and vocational training in order to ensure a livelihood. Attendance at school and training for children and young people must be guaranteed. Along with this, the host countries need to create a space for an open dialogue within society in order to relieve tensions and
resolve conflicts between the local population and refugees. The countries of origin must be strengthened in their efforts to improve living conditions for their populations, to create prospects for the future, to resolve conflicts non-violently and to nurture democratic developments.
In our educational centres in the host countries, we offer measures both for refugees and for the local population. The services offered include areas such as language acquisition, vocational training and psychosocial support. Additionally, we train volunteers who support the work. The education centres take on an important social role as a venue for exchange and encounter, promoting integration and preventing conflicts between refugees and the local population.
DVV International has been supporting several civil society education centres in Jordan and Turkey since 2013. In Armenia, educational activities and public welcome events have been organised for new arrivals from Syria. Similar projects for refugees from Southern Sudan are planned to take place in Uganda and Ethiopia.
Crises and conflict situations lead to profound turmoil in terms of a country’s social and economic situation, and frequently cause considerable internal migration. By promoting income-creating activities and nurturing vocational skill-building for internal refugees, educational work helps stabilise the situation and sets the stage for employment and growth. A further example of our work is mediation and conflict-solving training courses for local leaders from civil society and local administrations. The training courses are being used successfully as tools to alleviate tensions.
DVV International is carrying out a conflict prevention project in Ukraine. In Georgia, our basic and further training services provide internal expellees with effective tools to increase their income and improve their participation in society. In Mali, we have helped internal refugees returning to the North to start up businesses.
Our politically-impartial, religiously-independent Adult Education Centres provide a contribution on the ground towards preventing radicalisation; they provoke critical thinking, support local development and enable disadvantaged population groups to gain access to education with services for basic education and vocational training. For many people, these services constitute the first opportunity for future prospects in their own country.
In Afghanistan, DVV International together with the National Association for Adult Education (ANAFAE) has established roughly 25 Adult Education Centres nationwide offering basic education and vocational training, in particular for disadvantaged population groups.
Both Morocco and Tunisia are coming more and more into the public eye as countries of origin and transit for refugees to Europe. DVV International is supporting the establishment of urban and rural Adult Education Centres in Morocco. Similar centres are also to be established in Tunisia.
In the Western Balkans, particularly disadvantaged population groups are being given access to vocational training, conflict management, political training and income-creating activities which can help them establish a better economic foothold in their own countries.
The development policy information and training work of the Adult Education Centres is promoted via the project entitled “Global Learning in Adult Education Centres”. This is DVV International’s contribution towards making the experience gathered in the international work transferable to the work in Germany, and vice versa. Citizens are informed about global backgrounds, discover global topics and contexts for themselves and their own life realities, and develop options as to what they themselves can do.
Download the statement as a PDF-file: Creating prospects through educational services for refugees