Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Refugees and higher education, Part Two.

To continue from below, many refugees wish to go to school.

To do this one must first assess their educational level.

This can be surprisingly difficult. Refugees, virtually by definition, have had complicated and interesting lives marked by instability. Secondly, sometimes they lie a lot. (Shhh! Save the PC rebuttals. They will be ignored.) Sometimes refugees lie to ensure the safety of loved ones at home or protect themselves from persecution. Other times they lie for personal advantage. I won't go into the motivations here. Just please understand that often what is claimed as educational background is not necesarily what actually exists.

Therefore let's just sort of divide refugees into general eduational categories:

1) Never finished high school anywhere and admits it.
2) Never finished high school but claims they did but says the documents have been lost.
3) Finished high school and the documents have been lost.
4) Finished high school and has the diploma but no transcripts.
5) Finished high school and has the diploman and acceptable, proper transcripts.
6) Attended college but denies it due to an identity change.
7) Attended college and has the documents to prove it.

Although in theory it is possible to obtain an American-quality GED at some places abroad, this is only rarely done. (Curiously it can be done in Thailand and is sometimes done by citizens of Burma who arrive in Thailand to attend college but who have not finished Burmese high school. My understanding is that this is normally done by Burmese from the higher levels of society and not by refugees. Still, it is possible.) Therefore this article will assume that we are speaking of refugees who have not earned an American GED or finished attending an American high school.

I've ignored any issues involving forged educational documents. Probably it has happened but I haven't seen it. (Although in the '80s, a surprising number of the Americans I knew teaching English in Asia were using forged documents, I don't think it happens too much with the refugees I know.)

In my next installment, I will dicuss the implications of these categories and how to use the information to get these people into school and get their lives moving ahead the way people wish them to.

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