Making a difference with our European partners - Turning the spotlight on three examples of knowledge collaboration

European collaboration is an important component of Nuffic's mission. We work together with partners across Europe, not just within the Erasmus+ programme but in a variety of other ways too. The EU has commissioned us to implement large-scale programmes, in collaboration with sister organisations elsewhere in Europe, to strengthen education – for refugees, for example. In this article we shine the spotlight on three successful collaborative projects.

In the WANA (West Asia-North Africa) region, which stretches from Morocco to Iran, Nuffic is implementing several EU programmes in collaboration with a German (DAAD) and a French (Campus France) sister organisation. Nuffic's base of operations in this region is the recently opened Nuffic WANA office in Jordan. Thanks to these knowledge projects, young people in the region – in particular, refugees and their host communities – are offered training programmes that provide them with practical opportunities to change their lives in truly meaningful ways.

More than 12 years since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, such measures remain necessary. So far, the conflict has left more than 7 million Syrians homeless and 5 million have fled the country. With over 1 million refugees, Lebanon is the country with the highest percentage of Syrian refugees per capita. Jordan is another country that receives relatively large numbers of refugees from Syria. In practice, it is difficult for young displaced persons to gain access to higher education in those countries, and tensions between refugees and host communities are not uncommon. To connect communities and create opportunities, the EU is investing in the HOPES-LEB and EDU-SYRIA programmes via the EU Regional Trust Find. These programmes include individual scholarships and a wide variety of projects. Below we will shine the spotlight on three examples of successful EU-funded projects that focus on various groups, including Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

Learning to install street lighting
One individual who benefited from participating in a HOPES-LEB project was 23-year-old Batool Hamza from the town of Haouch Snaid in Eastern Lebanon, some 25 kilometres from the Syrian border. This region is home to many young people who have fled neighbouring Syria. A mere 6% of all young people from Syria living in Lebanon currently attend higher education.

In a blog post, Batool writes that the street lighting in her village was in a very poor state. A soon as the sun had set, Batool and the other villagers depended on the light of their mobile phones. This resulted in dangerous situations, for instance when they wanted to cross a street. Batool attended a training programme at SVS, which is part of LOST (The Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training) and acquired a variety of technical skills. Thanks to her training, she managed to get hold of 12 solar-powered lamps and install them herself. ‘In this way I really made a difference, by lighting up the road I and my neighbours cross every day’, she says, reflecting on the knowledge she acquired during her training.

Better access to animal health services
Part of the EDU-SYRIA programme, the Community Animal Health and Extension Workers (CAHEW) project is another typical example of an initiative with a direct impact on participants and their local communities. CAHEW helps young people develop practical skills in the field of animal health. For example, they learn how to vaccinate sheep and other animals against all sorts of diseases. Such knowledge and skills are very welcome in remote areas, where local communities often have little access to veterinary surgeons. Participants who complete the programme receive a diploma. CAHEW also gives them an opportunity to learn how to start or run their own small-scale farming business.

‘I learned a lot about becoming a paraveterinary worker', one participant in the programme says. ‘Thanks to the programme, I can now administer medicines to the sheep in our village. I'm also very pleased that I can share that knowledge with my brother, so that he can help me at work. This means we can both work in the villages in our region and help the tribes there, who have enormous flocks of sheep, and we get paid for it.’

Labour market integration in Southern Lebanon
But what if it is almost impossible to find a job? This is what reality looks like for young adults in Lebanon, where competition is fierce and jobs are in very short supply. HOPES-LEB aims to improve people's prospects on the labour market by offering scholarships and educational projects. One such project targets a group of 300 of the most vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian youth in the 15-24 age category. Many of them have a hard time finding a job. The 6-month training programme aims to improve labour market integration. Participants are trained in a variety of skills, including English language skills, critical thinking, working in teams, computer skills (e.g. Microsoft Office for beginners) and time management. Due to the conflict in Syria, many young people have spent years without structure and a daily rhythm, which does not make it easier for them to find a job. During the programme they also learn how to find a job, how to write a letter of application and how to prepare for a job interview once they're invited. The teachers themselves also receive support during the programme, to help them lower the threshold to the labour market for these young people.

Would you like to collaborate in projects like these? We are an ‘EU Pillar Assessed’ organisation and are looking forward to work on new programmes. Contact the Nuffic regional office in Jordan for more information.