Premium smartphone brand TECNO has announced today the renewal of its partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to support its Refugee Scholarships Programme DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative). The partnership aims to provide higher education and possible job opportunities to refugee scholars in Africa, unlocking their full potential to thrive as adults, and ultimately contributing to equal access to education for all.
As of now, more than 1 per cent of the world’s population is forcibly displaced. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict continued to drive new displacement in 2022, pushing the number of those forced to flee across the staggering milestone of 100 million for the first time on record. In times of displacement, higher education is crucial. Education empowers by giving refugees the knowledge and skills to live productive, fulfilling and independent lives. It improves mental well-being and offers a stable and safe environment for those who need it most. It also helps young people to carry on building futures for themselves, their families and their communities.
However, at the tertiary level, refugee enrolment stands at only 5 per cent, compared with 68 per cent at the primary level and 34 per cent at the secondary level. Too many refugees are denied the opportunity to explore their potential through higher education, where they can advance their own skills, knowledge and professional careers as well as innovation and research that can improve lives.
Since 2020, TECNO has joined UNHCR to provide quality primary education to more than twenty thousand of refugee children in Africa through their financial contribution to the Educate A Child (EAC) program in Kenya and Uganda. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic devastated learning conditions for refugee children, TECNO helped close the gap with an emergency donation of tablets to support learning for refugee children during school closure. In addition, TECNO donated 50,000 medical face masks to UNHCR Kenya’s COVID-19 response.
As we continue to provide educational opportunities in Africa, barriers to higher education need to be addressed and refugee access to the labour market needs to be expanded. In 2022, TECNO expanded the partnership with UNHCR to tertiary education, supporting refugee scholars in Africa to complete four-year higher education. In addition, TECNO will provide internship opportunities at its branches or subsidiaries in Africa for refugee students if the national policy allows and their qualifications match the positions.
Vanno Noupech, UNHCR Representative in China, expressed appreciation for TECNO’s continued support. “UNHCR welcomes this renewed and expanded partnership,” he said. “TECNO’s contribution will continue to enable UNHCR’s efforts to support refugee scholars to continue their education in difficult times, and potentially support their transition into the labour market. Increasingly, we see the Chinese private sector and individuals showing solidarity and support to address gaps in refugee education globally, and we believe the private sector could play a greater role in addition to financial contribution, such as leveraging their expertise and networks to co-create innovative solutions.”
Stephen Ha, General Manager of TECNO said, “With the renewed partnership with UNHCR, we hope to expand our support for refugee students from primary education to higher education. As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility endeavours, TECNO is committed to giving back to the community where we are present. We see the DAFI program as a chance to help those displaced young refugees with the higher aims and big potential to continue their education and provide them with more opportunities to change their lives and give back to the community in future. ”
Expanding access to quality higher education for refugees is part of UNHCR’s Education Strategy 2030. In order to ensure that more refugees have the opportunity to accrue social, economic and cultural benefits through higher education, and to promote the ability of refugees to participate in and contribute fully to the communities and countries they live in, UNHCR and partners set the target that 15 per cent of young refugee women and men are enrolled in higher education by the year 2030.
The DAFI refugee scholarship programme was launched in 1992. It supports refugee students around the world through full scholarships for undergraduate studies in the country of asylum. The aim of the programme is to help promote refugee self-reliance through increased access to opportunities to earn academic qualifications, develop knowledge and skills to improve preparedness for employment and entrepreneurship, and empower students to contribute leadership to host communities during displacement and upon return.
To date, DAFI has supported over 18,500 young refugee women and men to obtain higher education qualifications. The DAFI programme was implemented in 53 countries in 2020 covering 7,343 students. Africa is DAFI’s largest programme region with 34 countries.