Afghanistan has faced decades of armed conflict and political instability, forcing millions to flee to neighbouring countries, mainly Pakistan and Iran. Despite ongoing violence, nearly six million refugees have returned to the country over the past 10 years. Many have moved to the crowded city of Kabul, residing in tents and public buildings, where they live in extreme poverty with little access to governmental aid and education. The Jesuit Refugee Service focuses its work in areas where other NGOs are not present.
The Jesuit Refugee Service began working in the city of Herat in 2005, providing education to returnees near the Iranian border. At the Herat Technical Institute, JRS has been rebuilding the school and training academic staff who provide courses in electronics and architecture. JRS staff also teach English and physics to student studying education.
On the outskirts of Herat, JRS offer displaced women English courses as part of the “Each One, Teach Some” programme. The young women participants who learn English are then expected to teach children in their villages what they learned. JRS also conducts intensive teacher training for education students, so that they can teach the children in their villages during the winter months when schools are closed.
In order to reach out to other remote areas of Afghanistan, JRS established a project to build capacity in learning institutions and promote the provision of quality education. Teams provide financial and other assistance for the construction of schools, food and material supplies, and offer teacher training workshops onsite and courses in higher education institutions.
Despite the lack of infrastructure in Afghanistan, JRS sees an opportunity to provide quality education, vocational training and emergency relief to returnees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and minority ethnic groups living in Kabul, Herat, Bamiyan and Dai Kundi and other neighbouring villages.
Established in 2009, JRS organises projects providing funding and pedagogic training to 150 academics and teachers at the Bamiyan University and the teacher training college in Bamiyan. In addition, a further 350 children, mostly girls, living in IDP settlements and orphanages on the outskirts of Kabul, receive English language classes.
JRS has been serving in Bamiyan since 2007 and more recently in Dai Kundi. These two remote provinces in the central highlands of Afghanistan have extremely poor infrastructure and their literacy rate is alarmingly low. JRS focuses on language classes and preparing young people for their college entry examination. Nearly 350 women also attend pre-university courses in English and computers, as well as a course basic accounting and office management.
Stan Fernandes SJ
+91 11 4310 4661; +91 11 4953 4106
JRS South Asia is one of 10 geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organization sponsored by the Society of Jesus. The regional office in South Asia serves Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, Srilankan refugees in the Indian State of Tamilnadu and internally displaced people in Sri Lanka. Services include: education, skill training, economic programmes, healthcare, psychological support, disability centres, community development and emergency assistance. There more than 8,00,000 refugees presently in these four countries.
Interview with Fr Varkey Perekkatt SJ: giving Bhutanese refugees a voice
Rome, 5 December 2016 - Fr Varkey Perekkatt SJ, former field director for JRS in Nepal, believes that education is what enabled more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees to be resettled and find a better future.
Like leaving family who adopted me here......
New Delhi, 20 May 2016 – "Seeing their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, even during holidays. I was fully engaged preparing for my classes so as to give of my best to my students,". says Anthony who spent six months in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.
My experience as a track facilitator in Sri Lanka - Ninoschka Pinto
New Delhi, 27 February 2016 – "Our purpose is to teach them, not so that they take their knowledge of English and sit at home with it, but to mould them in all areas, so they can avail of opportunities..." Ninoschka H. Pinto spent six months volunteering at the Loyola campus JRS-JC:HEM academy in Sri Lanka. Here is her story in her own words.
Pope Francis supports global education initiative for refugee children and youth
Rome, 18 November 2015 – In a private audience with 15 refugees and friends and staff of Jesuit Refugee Service to commemorate the 35th anniversary of JRS on Saturday, 14 November, Pope Francis emphasised the importance of education for refugee children and youth as a means to build peace and foster the development of more resilient and cohesive societies.
Celebrating 35 years of accompaniment and service all over the world
New Delhi, 14 November 2015 – I joined JRS in 2005 when JRS was celebrating 25 years of service among the refugees. In my welcome speech as the JRS country director of Tamil Nadu, India, I said, ‘The most joyful celebration for JRS would be the day when there is no need for JRS, the day there are no refugees in the world.’ 10 years have passed and the number of refugees is on the increase…
Democratic Republic of Congo
United States of America
Central African Republic