Abdikadir Bare Abikar, Master of Education Graduate, Dadaab Response Association

Executive summary:

This paper reports on the results of a research project conducted as part of a Fellowship with the Open Society University Network. In this paper, I asked how has participating in post-secondary education in the Dadaab refugee camps – specifically completing a Master of Education degree through the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees Project – shaped the career pathways of graduates? To answer this question, I interviewed four men and four women who graduated from the Master of Education program in the Dadaab camps. Some graduates of the BHER Master of Education program have returned to Somalia and become employed in meaningful careers with the UN or NGOs, supporting the rebuilding of the country. Higher education opened up the possibility for sustainable voluntary repatriation, meaning that resettlement is not the only durable solution that is connected to higher education. Other graduates have remained in the camps but have used their skills supporting other students in the BHER project, teaching, doing research, and leading refugee-led organizations or community initiatives. Overall, graduates have the options either to go back to their countries of origin, or to remain in the camps. However, what is important is not going back as solution but that wherever you go, the knowledge, skills and experiences acquired are applicable in multiple ways. The BHER program positively influenced the youths in the camps and their career pathways. The paper recommends continuing the BHER program and starting other similar programs that provide hybrid or online higher education opportunities for refugees, without the need to leave the camps to access education. UNHCR, universities, donors, and NGOs can support these programs to expand access to higher education. For refugee youths, the paper recommends taking advantage of all possible higher education opportunities that are available, especially online courses.

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