Monday, January 4, 2016

Pact offers tertiary studies for refugees

New beginnings: Towle and Raja Singham (right) shaking hands after signing the MoU. The deal paves the way for refugee teachers and students to move forward.

THERE will be better opportunities for the refugee community in Malaysia to seek an education. This was made possisble after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Brickfields Asia College (BAC) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The MoU aims to offer diploma and degree programmes to students from the refugee community who are qualified. It also hopes to train both local and refugee teachers now teaching in refugee schools in Kuala Lumpur.

So far, 250 teachers have started training and another 200 are expected to undergo the course soon.

“This is an excellent project and we are happy to be a part of this,” said UNHCR resident representative Richard Towle.

“An agreement which allows refugee teachers to improve the quality of the parallel learning system is an incredibly powerful and important foundation to help refugees in Malaysia,” said Towle. He added that UNHCR supports 155,000 refugees in Malaysia and works with 127 learning centres across the nation.

Working hand-in-hand with the UHHCR is one of the many initiatives of the college’s Make It Right Movement which essentially aims to give back to society.

“We should have about 100,000 individuals and corporations helping us by early next year in order to change things and make a difference,” said BAC managing director Raja Singham.

The college now works with 50 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities to help women, children, the special needs community and refugees in the area of education.

BAC, an organisation active in empowering Malaysians through education, started EduNation, one of its education-based initiatives about two years ago and has approximately 35,000 student users.

What started out to be a web-based platform that provides free tuition for secondary school children in Malaysia, is now extending to primary schools.

“We’ve now started the primary school syllabus with Year 4. By the first quarter of next year, we should have the entire primary school syllabus online,” said Raja Singham, who added that all subjects will be available in four languages – Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese and Tamil.

Taking a step further, EduNation, he said, would be offered to other countries for free.

Raja Singham said the 2,800 videos provided online by EduNation would be a “fantastic resource” for refugee children if they are allowed to sit for the local exams.

He added that if Malaysian schools open their doors to refugee children and charge a small fee for their entry, not only will the government schools earn revenue, it would also make our qualifications “more global”.

“Change starts with us,” said Raja Singham.