Eleven asylum seekers and refugees are setting out to learn new skills and working towards qualifications to help them into employment, thanks to a new partnership between online and distance learning provider the National Extension College (NEC) and the Refugee Council.
The partnership is being funded by a bursary scheme set up as a result of a £19,000 legacy to NEC from one of the college’s longstanding tutors, Eileen Sellars.
The students are starting out on the road to gaining qualifications as diverse as GCSEs and International GCSEs in English Language and Sociology, A level Biology and certificates in Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS).
NEC’s flexible model of learning means the students can start their course whenever it suits them, and fit their learning in around other commitments, rather than having to follow conventional term times and timetables.
Refugee Council volunteer Emmanuel is an asylum seeker from the Ivory Coast. A lawyer in his home country, when he arrived in the UK Emmanuel spoke little English. He is now studying for his iGCSE in English, after which he aims to continue his studies with a course in counselling. Emmanuel now considers the UK his home, and hopes that one day he may be able to practice law again.
He said: “Before coming to the UK I was a lawyer; I was in my office every morning and had a very busy life but I was forced to escape my country. I’m in a difficult situation; there are lots of barriers to education and I don’t have permission to work.
“When the opportunity to study with NEC came up I grabbed it with both hands and felt very relieved when I was given a place. The online learning is so useful – I can fit my studies around my two young children and my volunteering commitments. I’m so happy to have this place: I’m really grateful to the NEC for what they’ve done for me.”