UTS receives LBW Trust grant for refugee teacher training
Dr Lucy Fiske and Associate Professor Nina Burridge from the UTS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences have been successful in gaining a grant from the LBW Trust.
The grant, worth $25 000 for 2020 with the possibility of an extension for the following two years until 2022, will allow UTS academics to conduct teacher training programs for volunteer teachers (refugees themselves) in Refugee Learning Centres in West Java, Indonesia. The teachers will then teach refugee children while their families await the long process of resettlement.
The LBW Trust was founded in 2006 with the vision to level the global playing field in education. Working with 13 projects in 9 developing nations, The LBW Trust works to bring change to the lives of individuals and communities through tertiary and vocational education.
The LBW Trust is currently supporting over 2,500 students in attaining tertiary and vocational qualifications.
Refugees Missing Out on Education
The UNHCR reports that approximately half of primary school aged refugees and only 22 per cent of high school aged refugee children have access to education. In Indonesia only 51 refugee children (less than 7% of school aged refugee children there) were enrolled in the national school system in 2016 and no NGOs provide education to refugee children.
Education plays a critical role in children’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development; the UNHCR reports that there is solid evidence that quality education gives children a place of safety and can also reduce child marriage, child labour, exploitative and dangerous work, and teenage pregnancy. It gives them the opportunity to make friends and find mentors, and provides them with the skills for self-reliance, problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork. It improves their job prospects and boosts confidence and self-esteem.
There are approximately 14,000 refugees in Indonesia, 28% (3,895) of whom are children. Indonesia is not a signatory to the Refugees Convention and, while it permits refugees to live there while the UNHCR looks for a solution for them, it does not make any provisions for refugees. Refugees are not permitted to work or run businesses and have no access to education, health or other social services. The UNHCR has recently advised refugees in Indonesia that they can expect to wait 25 years or more for resettlement.
Refugee-run Learning Centres
Refugees living in Indonesia have responded to these grim statistics by opening several learning centres, providing education to over 1200 refugee children and 300 adult men and women. The learning centres are staffed by refugee volunteers and are vibrant community hubs buzzing with activity, serving important functions beyond education.
The teachers are all volunteers and few have any formal qualifications or previous experience teaching. UTS academics, Nina Burridge and Lucy Fiske, have been working with teachers from four refugee learning centres since 2016 to build their teaching knowledge and skills. We have delivered four intensive teacher training programs covering lesson planning, unit planning, classroom behaviour management, use of technology in classrooms and, teaching social sciences for critical thinking. To date these training programs have been delivered on an ad hoc basis through small grants from various UTS discretionary funds.
The four learning centres we work with are:
- Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC)
- Refugee Learning Centre (RLC)
- Refugee Learning Nest (RLN)
- Hope Learning Centre (HLC)
A short video made by CRLC about one of the training programs we conducted is available here.
Teacher Training Program
The funding will enable consistent and planned delivery of teacher training twice per year over in 2020 and it is hoped for the following two years. This longer-term funding will enable progressive development of knowledge and skills, alongside incorporation of specialist knowledge areas such as adolescent development, mental health and health education among a selection of teachers volunteering at four learning centres in the Cisarua region of West Java. These teachers will then use a train-the-trainer model to share knowledge and skills with all teachers in their schools. Through working with these four schools, the project will reach approximately 700 refugee children and 60 volunteer teachers.
The program will additionally develop models of teaching and learning, and materials for teacher education that can be adapted to a global level. UTS academic staff will also write-up the program for academic, practitioner and refugee leader audiences to promulgate this model among other refugee populations. Any reports written will be shared specifically with the UNHCR, with whom we have a good relationship.