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UNHCR launches a global campaign Aiming Higher for the first time in Thailand to enable refugees to get into higher education

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UNHCR launches a global campaign Aiming Higher for the first time in Thailand © UNHCR/Somkiat Jaraspat

Despite a global pandemic and climate crisis, war and conflicts continue to force more than 82.4 million people to flee from their homes in 2020, especially from a crisis in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Bangladesh.

According to UNHCR’s educational report, across the world, only 5 per cent or 150,000 young refugees are enrolled in some form of higher education.

“We firmly believe higher education can be a chance for refugees to take control of their futures and give back to their communities. We can help make those opportunities more widely available for them to become vital contributors to local economies,” said Mr. Giuseppe De Vincentiis, UNHCR Representative in Thailand.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched "Aiming Higher” campaign globally to raise funds and build partnerships with different sectors to bridge the education gap enabling talented refugees to get into higher education by funding their scholarships for university and technical skills training.

“Employment shapes a person, and it is crucial above all. I have always been supportive and endorsed the power of education. It allows children and youth to build a new life. This campaign gives an opportunity for refugees to continue higher education and receive a second chance to be a valued global citizen,” said Venerable Medhivajirodom, UNHCR Patron on Peace and Compassion, about his dedicated fund initiative for refugees.

UNHCR, in partnership with Venerable Medhivajirodom, Sasin Sustainability and Entrepreneurship Center (SEC) and Kanachai “Kit” Bencharongkul, launched a global campaign “Aiming Higher” for the first time in Thailand with its activities to raise funds supporting refugee scholars around the world.

“Business cannot run alone. Sustainability can drive business success if entrepreneurs see the importance of social and governance of corporate citizenship, and a crisis on refugee’s higher education cannot be ignorant. Beyond helping curb global challenges, taking in social significance will elevate organization’s ethical impact on corporate responsibility in a substantial and sustainable way,” Mr. Nick Pisalyabut, Deputy Director, Sasin School of Management explained about this important partnership.

“I am lucky to be able to pursue my education and do what I love, and I would like to share this opportunity with others, especially those who were forced to flee home. This could be the greatest gift we could ever give to one another. I hope ‘Love is Boundless’ in the new dimension will be a meaningful gift from Thai people to youth refugees around the world,” Mr. Kanachai “Kit” Bencharongkul, Managing Director, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Bangkok) explained more on his collection supporting the campaign.

Fundraising activities under “Aiming Higher” campaign will be rolled out today and throughout the next two years to support refugee scholarships and building partnerships to bridge the education gap. The activities include:

  1. Fundraising activities under Phra Medhivajirodom’s Fund for Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Scholarship Programme with UNHCR. As a Chairman of the fund, he also donated to launch the fund.
  • Interfaith Pilgrimage: woodland ordination in Chiang Rai
  • Donation of his art piece for NFT with proceeds to the fund
  • Donation of copyrights and proceeds from the sale of 10,000 “Choob Choo Jai in Crisis” book to the fund
  1. Education forum for refugees and special scholarship by Sasin Sustainability and Entrepreneurship Center (SEC)

  2. The first-ever Holo-NFT collection for refugees in Thailand “Love is Boundless” by Mr. Kanachai “Kit” Bencharongkul, supported by Perception Codes Co., Ltd. is available today on Morpheus Project at https://morpheus.art/gallery/UNHCR-love-is-boundless

Aiming Higher campaign targets to fund additional 1,800 refugee scholars across the globe and need a further $23 million by 2023 to bridge the funding gap in higher education. Our goal is to increase refugee enrolment in higher education from the current 5% to 15% by 2030 (15by30). This campaign is embedded in the vision set during the Global Compact on Refugees. Companies, foundations and individuals can play a vital role in offering a chance and change the life of children and youth refugees.

While access to higher education is life-changing for everyone, for refugees, it can be a chance to take control of their futures and give back to their communities. Make a change today.

If you are also interested in exploring a partnership supporting Aiming Higher campaign with UNHCR, please contact us at support.th@unhcr.org.

ABOUT AIMING HIGHER CAMPAIGN:

The campaign is initiated by UNHCR to enable gifted young refugee students to pursue a university degree or similar higher education through UNHCR’s Refugee Scholarships Programme (DAFI – Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) Through the dedicated support of the government of Germany since 1992. To date, it has supported over 18,500 in 53 countries around the world, almost all in Ethiopia, Kenya, Iran, Pakistan and Egypt. The top fields of study are medical science and health related, commercial and business administration, social and behavioural science, engineering and computer science.

The scholarship support goes to tuition fees and other related costs such as local travel allowance and study materials.

VENERABLE MEDHIVAJIRODOM (V.VAJIRAMEDHI)

Venerable Medhivajirodom is a renowned Buddhist monk in Thailand and UNHCR Patron for Peace and Compassion. He is a thinker, a writer, and the President of the Rai Cherntawan Foundation.

He has supported UNHCR since 2016 and has raised funds to provide shelter to two million refugees worldwide under UNHCR’s global Nobody Left Outside campaign. He was appointed as one of the first two UNHCR Patrons, committing to promote peace and compassion towards refugees and humanitarian crises and engaging others to support our work. In light of the global refugee crisis, the concept of sympathy and compassion towards fellow human beings in need has never been more relevant.

His latest work emphasizes the importance of education and compassion for all includes “The Glaring Eyes of the Future” – a powerful and beautiful poem inspired by Afghanistan crisis, written and narrated by UNHCR Patron, the Venerable Phra Medhivajirodom.

SASIN SUSTAINABILITY AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP CENTER (SEC)

As the first internationally accredited business school in Thailand, Sasin is dedicated to grooming future leaders in sustainability management, a rapidly emerging theme throughout the business world.

Entrepreneurship is an integral part of Sasin’s culture. Our Bangkok Business Challenge is the longest-running collegiate startup competition in Asia. Sasin sets the standard in promoting sustainable best practices in ASEAN, melding entrepreneurship and sustainability ecosystems to benefit Thailand and the region. Above all, SEC emphasizes the importance of partnerships that work toward social, environmental, and economic balance.

KANACHAI “KIT” BENCHARONGKUL

A Managing Director of Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Bangkok), High Profile Supporter of UNHCR and the top fashion photographer in Thailand, has been unwavering in his commitment to raising the voice of refugees.

He initiated the “Love is Boundless” photo exhibition that unfolds what love means to refugees who have lived in Thailand for over 30 years through his lens.

In 2017, UNHCR Thailand presented the “Stand with Refugees” award to Mr. Kit Bencharongkul, which awards Thai citizen, in recognition of their unwavering support for refugees.