From lifeline to lifelong: How education is helping a new generation of displaced young people redefine their futures.
For refugees, gaining access to higher education is an uphill battle. Despite the huge demand among refugees for education at all levels, opportunities are severely restricted.
According to UNHCR’s latest figures, while enrolment of refugee children at the primary level is 68%, this figure plummets to only 37% at the secondary level. The effect on higher education is calamitous: only 6% of refugee youth are enrolled in higher education, including university, college, technical and vocational education, or online training and distance learning.
Compare those statistics to global figures around the world, roughly three-quarters of secondary-age children are in school, a level of engagement that means the global enrolment figure for higher education is as high as 40%.
But there are solutions. Thanks to the generosity and action of Henriquez Partners Architects more young people living in forced displacement will now have the opportunity to expand their employment prospects, improve their wellbeing, and reach their goals.
Henriquez Partners Architects is a Canadian architectural practice, headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, with a Toronto studio opening at Mirvish Village in 2023. Led by Gregory Henriquez, the studio seeks to re-examine the role of ethics, activism, and critical commentary in architectural practice, and to re-establish the leadership role of the architect in the creation of collective spaces that form the fabric of our daily lives and communities.
Henriquez is now best known for aspirational, inclusive mixed-use projects that typically require rezoning. The studio played a pivotal role in the Woodward’s redevelopment, completed in 2011, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which had an important influence on the studio’s commitment to social justice. The Woodward’s project remains unprecedented in Canada due to its scale, humanitarian aspirations and complexity. Since then, the studio’s socially, culturally and environmentally sustainable projects continue to have a major impact on local communities.
“Contemporary architecture is often revered purely as an aesthetic rather than as a social force. The architect, as a navigator, has a leadership role in pursuing the meaningful intersection of justice and beauty, of ethics and aesthetics. In the creation of communities that encourage values of inclusivity, diversity and social benefit, the architect’s role has the potential to facilitate a transfer of equity to those most in need.” – Gregory Henriquez, Principal, Henriquez Partners Architects
For refugees, higher education is the route to labour markets and economic self-sufficiency. Without higher education, displaced communities will be deprived of the scientific, cultural, social, and political leadership that others take for granted. On an individual level, it is the surest road to recovering a sense of purpose and dignity after the trauma of displacement. With the opportunity for tertiary education, these young people can rebuild their countries when they are able to return home or contribute to the futures of other communities if they are resettled.
“We are so grateful for the continued collaboration with Henriquez Partners Architects. We know these refugee scholarship opportunities truly open new pathways for young people who’ve lost so much, and we sincerely hope the generosity of Henriquez Partners Architects is a source of inspiration for others” – Alex Tom, Head of Private Sector Partnerships, UNHCR Canada