First field training
Each partnership was crucial for forming InZone’s present identity: UNHCR invited InZone to deploy training in the Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya.
This was a new departure for InZone: training refugees in the field to become interpreters. This raised MSF’s attention and the ensuing collaboration involved a new sustainability dimension: the exercises conducted by one generation of students would be reproduced and used as training material by subsequent generations. The MSF cooperation took InZone beyond that enclosure into the realm of education in settings with a pressing humanitarian dimension, but in which there was no legal basis for the provision of interpretation.
Then, the UNAMA sought the training of interpreters already operating in various locations in that country.
The heterogeneous conditions in which InZone was now working (urban environments, refugee camps), and differing levels of education of the student audiences for which it was catering, constituted a major challenge. Furthermore, InZone realized that the broader dimension of higher education as a whole was central to the endeavor.
Higher education for refugees
It soon became acutely clear that there were very few actors in the field who were supporting higher education efforts in favor of refugees. Furthermore, unlike primary and secondary education, higher education is not addressed by International Humanitarian Law.
InZone, as one of the few education providers at the tertiary level, was confronted with pressing demands from several quarters to become active in this broader context of higher education, given the overwhelming numbers of refugees and displaced persons.
With the endeavor to impact the real world of work, the University of Geneva was at that time developing a strategy for closer engagement with the international bodies of Geneva. InZone was well equipped to set an example for an innovative vision of higher education provision, given its accumulated scientifically validated experience of virtual learning methods - which granted new access for refugees to their development needs. This broke away from the more traditional approach of distributing scholarships and stipends to a selected few to attend traditional higher education establishments in distant locations.
Education, empowerment, and innovation
InZone learned from the experience of actors such as Borderless Higher Education for Refugees in Dadaab (BHER) and Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL) who had introduced a more traditional education approach into fragile settings. It started designing higher education models drawing upon new forms of virtual learning, with strong local support. Empowerment through innovative higher education - this is InZone’s aim.