Best Ideas 2020 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solutions or propositions for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.
Open Doors- Making University for Refugees a Reality
Explain your idea in details:
NGO donation only goes a short way for a refugee. Although it caters for their everyday needs, it does not provide a solution in the long term. Refugees that are purely reliant on NGO provision of goods will forever be reliant on this support as they have no skill allowing them to stand on their own. Open doors believes that education and training is the only way in which a refugee can become self-sustaining and be able to improve their lives in the long term. Most asylum seeker and refugee hosting destinations provide adequate integration of refugees into primary and secondary school systems. However, virtually none of them provide support for university and higher education. Thus, Open Doors aims to ensure that refugee students are not disadvantaged in their access to this. We will address the issue from its many facets. First, from an external environment perspective, we will work with universities to develop admission processes specifically for refugee students that are integratable into their current protocols. Next, we will work from an internal perspective, ensuring that refugee families understand the importance of education and are supportive in their childs pursuit of higher education. We will also work directly with refugee students by providing seminars, mentorships, and workshops to ensure that they are able to choose universities, subject areas, and thereby professions appropriately. FInally, we will also work with existing scholarship organisations, corporate firms, and public donors to secure long term financial support for these students. The children of refugees have had absolutely no control about their predicaments to date. By providing them opportunities to access higher education, we hope that we can provide them the tools needed for them to be self-dependent and improve their lives in the long term.
Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development
The success of this initiative can be measured by multiple ways: the number of universities who have developed mechanisms for admitting refugee students; the number of refugee students who we manage to provide higher education for; and the amount of financial support we receive from public and corporate donors. The fact that our interactions with all of these stakeholders can be both qualitatively and quantitatively measured allows us to consistently track our progress. Currently, our project will be based predominantly around the refugee community in Hong Kong, but in the future, we also hope to expand internationally. At the moment, there have not been any statistics about the number of asylum seeker minors in Hong Kong. However, as of 2017, there were reported to be around 140,000 asylum seekers. Moreover, there were shown to be over 7,000 Pakistani students enrolled in secondary schools. Although this number can only serve as a rough guide to the amount of refugee students in Hong Kong as some of the mentioned Pakistani students may not be of asylum seeker status and there most definitely are asylum seeker children of other nationalities too, it nevertheless still shows that there are a large number of potential dependents on the services Open Doors provides. In regards to goals, average tuition for attendance of a HK university for domestic application was reported to be 42,100 HKD (5,430 USD) a year. Thus, during the first year launch of our project, we hope to be able to raise funds amounting to a total of 20,000 USD and hence be able to support 4 refugee students in university. Simultaneously, we also hope to be able to begin liaison with all 8 universities in Hong Kong and start providing seminars for refugee families.
Plans for implementation and sustainability
We will first raise awareness of our initiative within the refugee community to connect to refugee students. There are several ways we plan to do this: by reaching out to different NGOs (some of which I have already worked with before), approaching schools with large refugee populations, and contacting relevant governmental departments. Next, we will examine the different admission policies local universities have and reach out to them regarding the development of one that is better catered to the needs of refugee students. For example, not only should the devised admission process take factors such as potential missed years of education into account and different language capabilities, but also address their special legal status as a non-refoulement claimants. Once the project is more substantially underway, we will also begin fundraising. To do so, we will approach both corporate firms to seek sponsorship or donation opportunities; reach out of established foundations already providing similar sponsorships; and host our own fundraising events. As university education is a lengthy process, it is important for our project, especially the funding, to be sustainable and consistent. Therefore, as opposed to one-off donations, we will encourage donors to donate regularly- either on a yearly or monthly basis. As funding for education is relatively expensive, donors will not be expected to provide the full amount of tuition. Rather, funding from several donors can be added together to sponsor one student. It will be made clear to donors which student their donations will be given to, for we believe that by clearly sharing this, we can build a strong sponsor-student relationship. All in all, sustainability and long-term implementation are amongst the most important aspects of this project, and thus will be paid special attention to during the planning of all our initiatives.
Im Vania Chow, a 16 year old student from Hong Kong studying at the Li Po Chun United World College. My interest in the minority community started in Grade 5, when I chose to do a project on the topic of discrimination. After that, I have been heavily involved in the community, in particular that relating to migrant workers and refugees. I am currently engaged in another project where I document the experience of refugees in Hong Kong and am also attending a weekly class run by a university professor. This summer, I will also be doing an internship with an NGO dedicated to improving refugees lives through sport. My motivations for helping this community revolve around empathy. Having lived in Hong Kong my entire life, my ideas of personal identity are strongly linked with the city. Thus, I have always understood the predicament of refugees, being forced out of their homes by circumstances completely outside of their control, to be extremely painful. Being in a position, financially and socially, where I am able to help, I believe I have a responsibility to do so, because, afterall, that is what I would want to see if I were in their shoes. Personally, my strengths lie predominantly in my leadership, creativity, and use of language. In my school, I am involved in many extracurriculars and leadership opportunities, such as Student Council, Model United Nations, and Junior Advisors. Outside of school, I have always sought for opportunities to challenge and improve myself. The rigorous training provided by a never-stop-trying attitude has accumulated in my winning of several writing competitions in Hong Kong. This includes the Fiction group of the Hong Kong Young Writers Award, the One City One Book Competition, and being awarded merit in the Love is All Around Competition.