Educating Future Ethical Leaders - Transformational Education Opportunities for Refugees
Project location: ITALY, Duino
Project start date: September 2016 - Project end date: August 2019
Project number: 2017-054
Beneficiary: Collegio Del Mondo Unito Dell'adriatico Onlus
As part of its new UWC Refugee Initiative, UWC as a family of schools and colleges has committed to greatly increasing its capacity to support students from refugee backgrounds. Currently on average 50 refugee and displaced scholars attend UWC schools on a full scholarship each year. UWC plans to increase this number to 100 over next two years.
From 2017 onwards UWC is aiming to bring in up to 100 refugee students per year on full scholarships. This ambitious goal will require intensive fundraising, increasing support systems at our colleges and developing strategic partnerships to ensure it is able to find candidates for whom UWC is the appropriate next step.
UWC's refugee initiative is inspired by the transformational life journeys that so many refugees and displaced people have undertaken through becoming UWC students and then alumni. UWC believes its education programmes are putting into practice some of the core recommendations of UN Resolution 2250, by engaging young people in conflict prevention, rebuilding and reconstruction for a better future.
The UWC refugee initiative through the provision of full scholarships targets young people of high potential from refugee and displaced communities. They are at risk of not having access to the next stage of education or of continuing in low quality or no education, limiting their potential. They will generally not have had access to transformational extra-curricular activities. Students aged between 15-18 and in their final years of high school or equivalent will receive a full two-year scholarship, offering a transformational education experience at a UWC school.
Based on previous experience, this programme will inspire and equip cohorts of ethical leaders with the skills and awareness necessary:
- to be catalysts for change
- to address the wider issues facing them, their communities and their continent, such as poverty, political, economic, and social inequalities and religious or ethnic tensions, and
- to foster an entrepreneurial mindset.
In relation to the NaEPFoundation's goals, the project provides a unique educational programme to youth coming from conflict and war zones, refugee camps and offers them the opportunity to change the destiny of their communities.
This project received a grant from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation. This is a brief description of the activities forseen.
Phase 1: Selection of the Students
Through UWC's "National Committee" (NC) system, we have a local presence of 3,000 volunteers in 154 countries who are trained to identify and select young people who show leadership potential and a commitment to social justice and development within their own communities.
UWC schools and colleges have been hosting refugee students for many years which is largely thanks to our unique national committee system which operates across 150 countries. These committees are responsible for recruiting and selecting UWC's student body and have been trained to identify young people with high potential as much as those with impressive academic track records. The national committees which are run by local volunteers who understand the local education system and cultural context are particularly well suited to finding and recruiting young refugees.
UWC has been successful in creating strategic and geographically-focused partnerships that allow for sustainable funding, regional representation of students across all our colleges, pathways to University and beyond, and the continuation of our role as an innovator in international education. UWC's strategy moving forward is to develop strategic partnerships to support an increased number of scholarships particularly from the Middle East region and other regions impacted by conflict; ultimately offering needs blind entrance to UWC.
Phase 2: Welfare and Students Support
Students are assessed during selection process to identify preparation needs before entering the IB programme.
A sliding scale of preparation is offered:
- those who need minimal preparation to attend a summer programme
- those needing greater preparation may be offered an additional year at the College, in order to receive an adequate English and academic preparation and pass the IB exams.
Students are assessed on their English and mathematics ability prior to arrival and given additional English lessons if required.
Once on campus colleges provide extensive support to youth with disadvantaged and disrupted educations including dedicated student counsellors, link parents, peer listeners, specialist curriculum, University guidance, and bursaries. Students are under the care of Houseparents and have personal tutors who give individual guidance on academic and personal matters. Scholarship students from regions of conflict all too often face extensive and unique personal and academic challenges and the colleges are committed to developing holistic support services for these high-potential youth.
Phase 3: Admission and Life at UWC
Every UWC is a small international community, where youth of all cultures, religions and geographic origin have the opportunity to live and study together, sharing a very strong community experience. Through their personal experience, they learn to know other cultures and societies, developing a deep understanding one of the other, and strengthening the ideals and means of peace.
In addition to the academic activities, every student is committed to a weekly activity as a volunteer for the local community, to at least one sport, and to at least one creative or artistic activity.
Thanks to such an intense experience, every student, at the end of the two-year study programme, will have acquired the following skills:
- deeper understanding of what surrounds him/her, while he/she will cultivate curiosity for learning;
- solid understanding as a basis for his/her knowledge, being able to explore concepts, ideas, problems that have a local and global impact;
- ethical decision making, thanks to a greater sense of criticism;
- comprehension and expression of his/her own ideas with confidence and creativity, using different communication means and in more than one language;
- take responsibility of his/her own actions, being honest and with a strong sense of justice;
- appreciation of his/her own culture and identity while, at the same time, understanding of the perspective, values and traditions of other individuals and communities, being able to evaluate different points of view and grow through experience;
- empathy, compassion and respect for others;
- courage and capacity to take risks, with an independence of spirit that enables to explore new roles, ideas and strategies, knowing how to defend his/her own ideas;
- capacity to exert his/her own will, and intellectual, physical and emotional balance;
- reflecting on own learning process and own experiences, knowing also how to evaluate and understand his/her own strengths and limits, in order to improve his/her own personal development.