On October 12, 2023, a meeting was held at BUITEMS training hall between Afghan refugee students enrolled in higher education and DAFI Scholars for the tertiary level meeting cohort IV. Ms. Maira, Laision officer welcomed the students and presented the agenda of the meeting. She invited Dr. Raheela, Director ICRMS, to give opening remarks. After the round of introduction, the presentation was delivered at today’s meeting. The students were divided into four groups to discuss various questions related to their experiences in tertiary education and overall being a refugee student. Each group was led by ICRMS staff and Afghan refugee volunteers.
The four groups discussed the socio-economic and enrollment challenges in great detail and the a group leader from each group presented a short summary of the discussed key challenges, achievements and provided sustainable solutions.
Following is the summary of the challenges faced by refugee students.
- Pressure from families and communities to prioritize earning over education
- Limited seats and quotas for Afghan refugees in higher education institutions
- Technical and systematic difficulties in accessing scholarships, including delays in documentation and difficulty obtaining Bonafide certificates from universities timely
- Financial barriers to pursuing higher education without the DAFI scholarship
- Limited job opportunities for Afghan refugees after graduation, raising doubts about the value of pursuing higher education.
- Discrimination based on refugee status, despite holding PoR cards and residing in Pakistan for extended periods.
- Insufficient training and awareness sessions for DAFI scholars regarding academic skills and career prospects.
- Inadequate support for students pursuing 5-year programs like MBBS and pharmacy.
- Limited exchange programs and networking opportunities for DAFI scholars to broaden their horizons beyond local communities.
- Job opportunities for Afghan refugees after graduation.
- Language and curriculum barriers in higher education, prompting the need for accelerated and crash courses before formally embarking on higher education.
- Lack of career counseling at primary and secondary levels in refugee schools.
- Absence of therapy sessions/workshops for refugee students/youth.
- Need for support/facilitation centers in every university in Balochistan or at least in universities with a high number of refugees.
- Inadequate reserved seats relative to the refugee population in Balochistan
- Absence of workshops where refugees can present themselves to build confidence and overcome shyness.