Access to education is a basic human right. However, for refugees, entering the education system and obtaining revalidation of studies in the country of asylum does not always occur automatically. Globally, 61% of refugees have access to primary education, while only 23% of refugee adolescents can attend secondary school. In Mexico, the Law on Refugees, Complementary Protection and Political Asylum includes the right to education and the revalidation of studies for refugees. However, in states like Chiapas this represents a great challenge.
This summer in Tapachula, the first generation of the ‘SubCentros de educación para adultos’ alternative education project was coordinated by the Federal Secretariat of Public Education (SEP), the System for the Integral Development of the Family (DIF) of the State of Chiapas. and UNHCR. The Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid (COMAR) also collaborates by offering information about the program to potential beneficiaries.
In this first generation, 15 young refugees obtained the certification of their primary studies after attending classes during a semester in the Day Center of the System for the Integral Development of the Family (DIF) of the state of Chiapas. At the end of 2017, the next generation is expected to graduate with both the primary and secondary degrees.
The project offers applicants for refugee status and recognized refugees a semi-formalized study model with official certification of primary and secondary grades, through which students attend classes two days a week and graduate in six months. This type of model, traditionally known as Adult Basic Education Centers (CEBA), is ideal because they can access educational services and be certified regardless of their immigration status.
“This model is ideal both for adolescents and refugee adults who left their studies unfinished in their country, as well as for people who can not carry out the administrative procedures for the revalidation of their studies in the country of origin,” said Valentina Duque, UNHCR in Tapachula.
On the other hand, teacher Magdalena Domínguez, commented that: “As a supervisor of Adult Education Centers, in addition to complying with the provisions of the Registration and Certification Standards, I feel a great satisfaction to work for the education of vulnerable people of the refugee community facilitating and promoting their educational development.
This type of projects favors the integration into the city and the reduction of school dropout for reasons related to their immigration status. I am very grateful to UNHCR and COMAR which are the direct links for this population’s attention “.
For 18-year-old refugee Olga Paredes, “[…] thanks to this project I have the opportunity to believe again in dreams that I thought were lost”.