Academics, students need help to keep their hopes up in education
In recent weeks, the world’s attention has shifted to the uncertainties facing refugees fleeing political and social upheaval in Afghanistan, as well as the plight of those still inside the country. Afghan students and academics face threats to their jobs and their ability to pursue their education, careers and lives.
Among them are women, members of minority communities, artists, activists and civil society actors. With their world in turmoil and in the face of threats from the Taliban and other extremist groups, these brave individuals need help and support.
The Institute of International Education (IIE) does everything possible to help these students and scholars.
For more than 100 years, IIE has responded to humanitarian crises to save lives and preserve knowledge wherever they are threatened. We understand the chaos and fear that accompanies situations like the one we are witnessing in Afghanistan.
True to our mission, we launched IIE Afghanistan Crisis Response with our network of dedicated academic and donor partners to assist Afghan students and scholars – in Afghanistan and the United States – through a number of established IIE programs and special initiatives.
The Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) is a global program that organizes and funds scholarships for threatened and displaced academics at partner higher education institutions around the world. Since 2002, IIE-SRF has supported 925 academics from 60 countries in partnership with more than 430 host institutions in 50 countries.
Since the sudden fall of the Afghan government, IIE-SRF has awarded several emergency scholarships to courageous and talented Afghan academics and will seek to identify university hosts for these academics in the weeks and months to come.
The Student Emergency Fund (ESF) awards scholarships to international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States when natural disasters, wars, or other crises in their home country threaten their education. Many face financial pressures to return home or give up because their family circumstances have dramatically changed.
The ESF provides a safety net, helping these students to cover basic needs, including basic living costs. Since 2010, nearly 2,000 ESF scholarships have been awarded, providing more than US $ 5 million in essential financial support to students around the world.
We are currently reviewing applications from colleges and universities in the IIENetwork for international students from Afghanistan or Haiti who are affected by the recent crises in their countries.
The Platform for Education in Emergencies (IIE-PEER) is an online clearinghouse, serving as a global resource for refugee and displaced students pursuing higher education opportunities, connecting them to scholarships and online learning.
IIE-PEER, developed in partnership with the Catalyst Foundation for Universal Education, also serves as a platform for universities to post scholarship opportunities for refugee students, including those for which Afghan students are eligible.
The Artists Protection Fund (IIE-APF) grants scholarships to threatened artists from any field of practice and places them in host institutions in safe countries where they can continue their work and plan for their future.
The IIE-APF directly welcomes applications from threatened artists and requests from people or institutions interested in welcoming threatened artists. With the re-rise of the Taliban, the lives, voices and ideas of Afghan artists, as well as the country’s rich cultural history, are under immense threat.
The Odyssey Scholarship is a new scholarship that supports higher education opportunities for traditionally underserved displaced students around the world. The IIE Odyssey Scholarships enable motivated and qualified refugees or displaced persons to pursue fully funded undergraduate or graduate programs around the world. An IIE Odyssey scholarship will help Afghan students prepare for a future filled with hope and opportunity.
These opportunities for academics and students provide individuals with the resources to develop and realize their vision for the future, leading to positive change for themselves, their families and their communities.
The crisis in Afghanistan places increased demand on IIE programs at a time when educational resources, especially in higher education, are dwindling and the world’s displaced population continues to increase.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that in 2020, 82.4 million people were forcibly displaced from their country and that only 3% of refugee students are enrolled in education.
This is illustrated by the fact that in 2020 alone our Scholar Rescue Fund received the highest number of applications in its history. There are millions of students and scholars with a deep desire to learn, who face insurmountable obstacles.
Continued discouraging reports from Afghanistan can make peace and progress impossible. But we know, through our work and our history, that even in the midst of chaos, education transcends borders, opens minds and empowers people to go beyond bonding to solve problems together. .
We are inspired by the resilience and determination to continue that we see among Afghan students and scholars. With our unique experience and resources, we go to great lengths to provide hands-on support.
Since the launch of IIE’s response to the crisis in Afghanistan, more than $ 1.3 million has been pledged by individuals and institutions, while dozens of universities have pledged to host students, Afghan academics and artists in partnership with IIE.
You can also help by joining your donation at www.iie.org/Give-Afghan. Our Afghan colleagues are counting on us in the global higher education community to step up our efforts. We have no doubt that any support we are able to offer will be more than matched by their contributions to our campuses, our communities and our nation.
Nina Smith is head of philanthropy at the Institute of International Education and James R King is director of the Scholar Rescue Fund at the Institute of International Education.