A pre-pilot UNESCO Refugee Qualifications Passport aiming to help displaced people with missing qualification documents will be launched in Zambia this month, before the project is rolled out at a greater scale globally.
Four organisations – UNESCO, UNHCR, Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education and the Zambian Qualifications Authority ZAQA – announced the project recently in New York City.
Based on the Council of Europe’s European Qualification Passport for Refugee, launched in 2017 as a response to the influx of refugees to the continent, the latest move is a way to test whether the methodology can be used beyond a European context.
“We have big expectations of the Zambia pilot since it will be the first time the Qualification Passport methodology is tested outside Europe,” Andreas Snildal, program specialist, Section of Higher Education – Education Sector at UNESCO explained.
“It will be an important step for learning and for further developing the project, but it is important to emphasise that the pilot will also include countries in other regions.”
Zambia was chosen for its “considerable refugee population, its experience in qualifications recognition and not least its government’s commitment to higher education and refugees”, Snildal said.
“We will build on this support for implementing the full-scale pilot, and we are aiming at piloting the UNESCO Qualifications Passport in two or three countries in different parts of the world in 2020.
“In the long run, the aim is to establish a tool that can be used around the world in different contexts,” Snildal added.
The qualifications passport is the “perfect match to address the gap that often exists in refugee and migrant populations that may have incomplete documents”, Maren Kroeger, tertiary education officer in the Division of Resilience and Solutions at UNHCR said.
Working in an advisory role, UNHCR recognises that incomplete documents are one of the biggest barriers for refugees to access university education.
“We came to Zambia to have a pre-pilot to see how it works in a completely different context – it is a completely different higher educational setting then in the European context where the passport has been piloted before,” Kroeger told The PIE News.
Some settlements in Zambia have been there since the 1970s, while others arrived last year from places such as Congo. That diversity offers a good test of the tool, while the project will also provide insight into the profile refugees.
Those involved expect that a global rollout will follow once willing countries and national quality assurance agencies have been identified, and funding needs to be sourced.
“From our side where I see possibly a huge demand for that tool for the Venezuelans in the Americas because they also been highly educated before the crisis,” Kroeger concluded.
The outcome of the pre-pilot will be presented at UNESCO’s General Conference in November, and most likely countries in other UNESCO regions will be included in a more comprehensive pilot, Stig Arne Skjerven director of Foreign Education at NOKUT added.