Since 1994, the South African government has adopted a variety of social policies with the aim of redressing the socio-political and economic imbalances created by the apartheid regime particularly in remedying educational barriers.
Without a focused investment in higher education, the future of generations of refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons would be uncertain and precarious without means of economic self-sufficiency. Some refugees consider tertiary education to be the only hope for a better future. Education and training would increase their employability and entrepreneurship, which are means to earning a good life. Irrespective of being entitled to the right to study, they experience enormous challenges when trying to gain admission to universities and when studying, including the lack of supportive refugee admissions policies, student financial assistance, and being treated as “international students”.
As an example, UNHCR’s 2019 education strategy, Refugee Education 2030: A strategy for refugee inclusion, aims to foster the conditions, partnerships, collaboration and approaches that lead to all refugees, asylum seekers, returnees, internally displaced persons and stateless children and youth and their hosting communities to access inclusive and equitable quality education, including at the tertiary level. SDG 4.3 clearly states out that the target of ensuring equal access for all to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university should be achieved by 2030. Article 22 of the 1951 Convention on public education, binds contracting states to “accord to refugees the same treatment as is accorded to nationals. With respect to elementary education”. this article deliberately supersedes article 7(1), which states “except where this Convention contains more favorable provisions, a Contracting State shall accord to refugees the same treatment as is accorded to aliens generally”.
Education and economic inclusion are crucial in promoting refugee self-reliance. Expanding access to tertiary education is the first step in closing the gap between learning and earning. Supporting the transition from tertiary education to employment is a crucial next step. As such, the need to create a dialogue that supports the opportunity for further education of refugees and asylum-seekers residing in South Africa is paramount. It will provide our refugee communities with an increased understanding of their rights whilst supporting them to better engage with their host country. Welcoming experts in this field of inclusive and intercultural education-, this dialogue will explore the role of further education in shaping the social inclusion of refugees and asylum-seekers in South Africa and empower them with the necessary tools to demand their right to seek further education.
Islamic Reliefs objective of this dialogue is to empower refugees and asylum-seekers with the necessary knowledge to realize their rights and seek better opportunities. To provide information to refugees and asylum-seekers and link our target group to relevant services that will assist them in realizing this right. Islamic Relief wants to utilize this event as a platform to raise awareness on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers for further education by identifying the most significant challenges faced by refugees and asylum-seekers in accessing education in South