Global: JRS 32 years on, continues to focus on education and building hope
15 November 2012

Refugees receive opportunities for educational and recreational activities at JRS facilities, Amman, Jordan (Dominik Asbach/JRS)
Expanding access to education, building where others have destroyed, bringing the hope of a peaceful future where refugees can live in dignity, this is why the Jesuit Refugee Service was established.
Rome, 15 November 2012 – "Hatred, division and violence foster blindness and stupidity. They are self-destructive and have no future". With these words the JRS International Director, Peter Balleis SJ, focused his presentation at Georgetown University in Washington DC this morning at a conference, Kindling hope through learning, stressing the importance of higher education in refugee situations.

"These writings of Dietrich Bonheoffer, the German theologian and political dissident during the Nazi dictatorship, provide an apt message for the thirty-second anniversary of the foundation of the Jesuit Refugee Service, established to construct where others have brought destruction, to offer knowledge where ignorance reigns", said Fr Balleis.

"This is what Fr Pedro Arrupe, former Superior General of the Jesuits and founder of JRS, was aiming at when he called on Jesuits to assist refugees around the world, not only through the provision of material needs, but with human, pedagogical and spiritual assistance that allows for holistic change", continued Fr Balleis.

In his address in Washington Fr Balleis highlighted the importance of education, the use of knowledge as a means of resisting the self-destructive forces of violence. By kindling hope through learning that is based on a deep belief in the dignity and interdependence of the human family, JRS seeks to empower uprooted people and foster a future filled with hope.

The decision to provide education is part of a more holistic approach to learning. Take the latest JRS projects in Jordan and Syria. Even during an emergency when most agencies are focused on the provision of humanitarian assistance, JRS is also organising educational and recreational activities as a tool of trauma healing and promoting psychosocial well-being. It is a way of bringing a sense of normality to the lives of children. Within this vision, the role of higher education is to help foster leadership within a strong moral framework.

Online higher education. Over the past two years JRS has partnered with Jesuit Commons, an endeavour that fosters cooperation across the global Jesuit network to benefit poor communities, in sponsoring projects entitled Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM). These projects foster a holistic approach to refugee education that respects and develops students' cultural values and moral character.

JC:HEM pilot projects have already opened in refugee camps in Kenya and Malawi and expansion of this programme is beginning in Jordan. Already nearly 600 students have participated in diploma and certificate courses.

Building on the primary and secondary education services already in place, JC:HEM seeks to strengthen the capacity of displaced communities to become self-sufficient. JRS higher education projects – whether in Jordan, Malawi or Kenya – look to promote new ideas and perspectives that will reinforce the dreams of many refugees, for a more secure future where people live together in peace.

By 2015, in line with the organisational strategic goal on education, JRS hopes to increase the number of JC:HEM sites to six, strengthen its partnerships with Jesuit universities, provide additional educational materials online, and incorporate psychosocial care into the majority of educational projects.

"Expanding access to education, building where others have destroyed, bringing the hope of a peaceful future where refugees can live in dignity, this is why the Jesuit Refugee Service was established", Fr Balleis concluded.





Press Contact Information
James Stapleton
international.communications@jrs.net
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