The Klosters Forum 2017 - refugee education

Refugee Education  - Forum in Klosters

On 3rd and 4th August 120 persons gathered in the Swiss Alps to discuss one of the most burning questions – education of refugee children. The Klosters Forum (THK) has convened for the first time and wants to contribute to problem solving by bringing together actors ranging from ambassadors for that cause, private sector, humanitarian actors and experts. Results of the forum will be presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos that takes place 6 month later.
The 2-day workshop evolved along a series of pre-selected topics such as: sustainable funding and partnerships, technology and connectivity, accreditation, bringing approaches to scale and a last round of a topic that emerged during the workshop.

Two interesting aspects that I take away from the 2-day workshop are:  

  • Technology and connectivity (to the web) is not a solution per se, but has over mid to long term to shift fundamentally the education system. Education is delivered still widely in a Victorian Period Style, with a person standing in front of his/her audience and transferring his/her knowledge. Technology and connectivity is reinforcing in a very evident way the demand formulated by reform pedagogy since 100 years. Let children learn in a more self-paced and active way. In that sense knowledge is not a consumer good but has to be built through exploring by children themselves. Then an enabling environment that motives children for mastery of a subject becomes more important and thus teachers role will change fundamentally from a semi-god to a mid-wife or from the source of knowledge to a facilitator of learning (reform pedagogy)  and having access to knowledge and information (tech community).
  • Technology providing access to knowledge is part of the solution, but experience eof participants have as well shown that without human factor there are no results. “Blended” methods, a mix from access to materials stored in the web/ or offline through softwares like kivik/rahel and F2F capacity building have the biggest potential to succeed. Taking into account the point above those blended methods will help to train multiplicators that are enthusiastic to facilitate and moderate learning pathways of children and have the skills to provide an enabling learning environment for children. This becomes even more a challenge evidently if the children suffer from consequences of toxic stress, or are from mixed cultural backgrounds.
  • Accreditation is a business and there are strong stakes to keep systems as they are in place. Most systems are based on multi-subject mastery, but those systems work against those that are confronted with language barriers. Achieving mastery of 10 subjects in a foreign language is nearly impossible for children. But breaking accreditation systems up to single subjects would enable flexibility to select “less language driven subjects” and re-enter education at least partially. This would give time to lower the language barriers, and not impede children to gain any accreditation.

Some reflection points on the organisational aspect of TKF:
Participants were a mix of people with very different level of knowledge, but key actors such as refugees themselves and local actors were missing unfortunately. Key actors like INEE and others were as well not present and thus actors that could help structuring the discussion were absent. nevertheless there were many good contacts and working ideas that emerged.