European Refugee passport scheme expands

Published 30/07/2018

National recognition offices in nine countries are now involved in the Council of Europe’s ‘European Qualifications Passport for Refugees‘, up from four in 2017. With assessments carried out in Greece and Italy, the project expects to evaluate around 500 refugees during its second phase.

Qualification recognition centres in Armenia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK are working to provide documents detailing refugees’ education qualifications, work experience and language proficiency.

“Most refugees interviewed in Greece are from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan; in Italy are from sub-Saharan Africa”

The nine countries have expertise in a broad range of education systems and qualifications from other regions, according to Sjur Bergan, head of the education department at the Directorate of Democratic Citizenship and Participation for the Council of Europe.

“They receive a variety of refugees. While most of the refugees interviewed in Greece are from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, many of those interviewed in Italy are from sub-Saharan Africa,” Bergan said.

The countries also offer “geographic variation”, he added.

The Greek Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs has been involved in the project since 2017 and Italy’s Ministry of Education, Universities and Research and the Conference of University Rectors of Italy have joined as partners.

Stig Arne Skjerven, director of foreign education at Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education, explained that he hopes recognition centres in more countries show interest in joining the project.

“The high number of ENIC-NARICs involved is important with regards to building capacity all over Europe in using this state-of-the-art recognition methodology,” Skjerven said.

“[It] is based on self-assessment by the refugees, evaluation of available documents, and interview with two experienced and trained recognition experts representing two different countries.”

The methodology has proved useful and efficient in Italy for refugees from African countries, he explained.

The passport has recognised upper secondary, TVET and higher education qualifications, he added.

“As NOKUT sees it, the methodology of the Qualifications Passport for Refugees has proved to be generic and may have similar impact and relevance outside of Europe as well,” Skjerven told The PIE News.

It has been tested successfully in Turkey by NOKUT in an EU Funded project and will be tested in Lebanon in the next couple of months, he said.

“By testing out the methodology of the Qualifications Passport for Refugees outside of Europe an important aspect is building national capacity in the regions for assessing and recognizing refugees’ qualifications in a modern way.”

NOKUT first piloted the EQPR in Norway in 2016 and the first group of refugees received their passports in 2017

The project conducted 92 interviews in its pilot phase in 2017, from which 73 Qualifications Passports were issued, according to Bergan.

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