Adult Education for Rebuilding Life
The development co-operation work of the Finnish Refugee Council (FRC) concentrates on refugee and repatriation situations. The FRC works in four countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Thailand.
The construction of an ecological latrine in Sass Town, Liberia. Photo: Markku Vesikko
In Uganda and Thailand the Finnish Refugee Council offers education to refugees and to locals living in the vicinity of refugees. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, on the other hand, the emphasis is on supporting the returnees. The goals of these activities are to reduce poverty and to increase self-reliance. In addition, amongst refugees, the organization focuses on preparing for repatriation.
In environments of reconstruction, conflict prevention on both the individual and the community level are carried out. The forms of activity are adult education, community development, and the strengthening of civil society organizations.
Those who have fled from a crisis are in a great need for education. Due to war situations, many refugees have had to abandon school or they have not received any education at all. Life in a new environment either in a refugee camp or in a war-devastated returnee area is challenging. Assist is needed for starting a life of peaceful cohabitation.
Basic education, such as literacy and numeracy skills, is of great significance for the well-being of refugees and returnees. Providing practical basic education to adults gives them the tools to positively influence the economical situation of their families.
Courses on reading, writing and numeracy organized by The FRC also address topics related to agriculture, health, civic rights and good governance, amongst others. Additionally, offering vocational education for the youth as well as strengthening local civil society organizations constitutes an essential part of the development cooperation activities.
Refugees and returnees participate in the implementation of projects from the planning phase onwards. In this way it is sought to ensure that they identify with the projects and that their needs are taken into consideration.
A large part of the participants in the programs are women as their level of education and status are inferior to those of men. Women's education influences also directly the well-being of the family and the education of children.
The Finnish Refugee Council has an office and own staff in each target country. The projects in Liberia and Sierra Leone are carried out jointly with local partner organizations.
The work of the FRC also supports long-term development goals by training partners and teachers as well as by the production of new teaching materials.
The projects are financed with the support from the Unit for Non-Governmental Organizations of the Department of Development Policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and with the support of Finnish private donors. In 2010 the Foreign Ministry financed development cooperation work of the Finnish Refugee Council by 1.58 million Euros.
The FRC has been implementing development projects for 20 years. Up to 1991, aid was channeled to refugees via the UNHCR. Earlier, the Finnish Refugee Council has had its own projects in Malawi, Bosnia and Kosovo.