Roia, a 23-year-old Afghan refugee living in Tajikistan, studies international law at the Tajik State University of Commerce. She actively participates in conferences, debates, and other student activities and writes articles about global issues. She is very keen on studies. Her favorite subjects are politics, international laws, sociology, and psychology.
“Education is a must for development and positive changes. Moreover, education is the key to intellect development, which causes all discoveries and inventions for a better life around the world. The more I study, the better I understand myself, my community, and my goals for this world,”
Roia, DAFI scholar in Tajikistan
Roia and her family arrived in Tajikistan in January 2016, and with the help of relatives, her family rented a home and settled in a new country.
“It was difficult for me – the girl who always had the desire of studying and developing. In the beginning, I was depressed when I came to a small city where the opportunities are rare for youth to develop their modern skills. Later, I found a job as an English teacher in a learning center in Dushanbe, but my dream was to go further and study,” states Roia.
Roia’s path to obtaining higher education was not easy. Seeing her interest and good results in school, her family did their best to support their daughter’s academic pursuit but paying tuition fees was challenging for them.
“Since I became a refugee and struggled a lot for having opportunities, I decided to study international law and later to go deeper with international rights of migrants in order to work with government and international organizations to protect the rights of people who fled their countries because of security,” says Roia. The girl’s dream to study in university became possible thanks to the DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) scholarship programme, which offers qualified refugee students the possibility to earn an undergraduate degree in the country of asylum or home country.
Roia learned about the DAFI programme in the office of Refugees, Children and Vulnerable Citizens (RCVC) – a non-government organization, UNHCR social partner in Tajikistan. She applied for it and successfully passed the selection process.
“The DAFI scholarship helps me have my full concentration on my studies rather than working and thinking on university expenses. Moreover, I had time for joining events and other activities and I learned a lot from them. I participated as a debater and judge for national and regional tournaments, OSCE regional events for youth,” says Roia.
Education helps people forced to flee to building better futures. It enables refugees to develop professional skills and knowledge that they can use for the benefit of their host community. But globally, just 3% of refugees are currently enrolled in higher education.
UNHCR works together with partners, including the DAFI programme, to provide displaced youth access to quality education to pursue better lives. Through the dedicated support of the governments of Germany, Denmark and the Czech Republic, UNHCR and private donors, the DAFI programme has supported over 18,000 young refugees in over 50 countries of asylum to undertake tertiary studies since 1992.
In Tajikistan, the DAFI programme started its operation in 2008, and since then, 39 refugees graduated and became alumni of the progarmme. DAFI played a key role in minimizing the interruption of their educational pathways, opening up prospects for these young adults, as well as ensuring that their rights and protection needs are respected. Currently, other 12 refugees living in Tajikistan benefiting from the DAFI scholarship studying in different universities in Tajikistan, and pursuing their educational dreams and goals.