Empowering young, newly arrived refugees through education

This project, “Les extrêmes se touchent”, meaning “the extremes meet”, aims to train and mentor the most vulnerable, marginalized and destitute refugees, and place them in internship positions with leading organisations and companies in the Netherlands.

Challenges

Over the last five years, approximately 40,000 people have been registered as refugees in the Netherlands. Every year, more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors (UAMs) seek refugee protection in The Netherlands. These unaccompanied refugees (UARs) arrive mostly from Eritrea, Syria and Morocco (Eurostat 2017).

When they arrive, these young people are faced with major challenges arising from various issues: language barriers, psychological issues such as post traumatic syndrome, nutritional deficiencies, deteriorated health, and many more. This makes their integration through education or work ever the more difficult.

Our main challenge lies in helping marginalized UARs, with refugee or residency status, that are outside social workers’ radars, especially those that have stopped collecting social welfare benefits, have serious needs and are exposed to various dangers. They are in extremely precarious situations which is why this intervention is so urgent and necessary.

Interventions

Educational demands on young people are becoming increasingly more strenuous. Studies indicate that roughly 80% of newly arrived students score significantly worse than their classmates, leading to significant demotivation in the student.

They are then more likely to drop out of school and may even engage in criminal activities. Good results and successful careers become almost unattainable. In this negative environment, interventions are needed more than ever to get them back on track and ensure educational success.

We focus our attention on vulnerable refugees from Eritrea, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.

We carefully select our members based on specific criteria, the most important being motivation and potential for success. As language barriers are one of the biggest challenges facing UARs, language skills are not a prerequisite to take part in this project; they are merely a plus.

Holistic approach

We believe that this downward trend can be reversed by adopting a holistic approach to the educational needs of these young people. This year, starting with 15 unaccompanied refugees from 18 to 22 years old, we aim to empower young people and give them a chance to adapt to their educational setting and social environment through trainings (cultural awareness, soft skill development and vocational skills), internships and mentoring. We are focusing on adolescents who have been registered in the Netherlands since 2015 and have a high motivation to integrate into society and the labour market.

The idea is that the young people, their families, their schools and their communities join forces with local partners (municipalities and NGOs), to exchange best practices and expertise, create a broader social network, and ultimately to provide a better and healthier lifestyle.

UW-NL wants to help achieve this objective by also introducing well trained professionals and volunteers to this project, so that these unaccompanied refugees receive more well-rounded guidance and can then specialize in accordance to their skills.

15 per year

By the end of the project, our 15 Unaccompanied Adolescent Refugees will possess acute self-awareness, will be autonomous, and eventually secure a working position that is right for them.