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New online course to support unaccompanied and separated children

Refugee children

The University of Strathclyde has worked with 16 leading international humanitarian agencies to offer a new online course dedicated to responding to the needs and rights of unaccompanied child refugees.

Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children will begin on Monday, May 27 on the FutureLearn platform.

The free, six-week online course is available to anyone, wherever they are in the world, and is offered in four languages: English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

The course specifically focuses on the importance of considering the needs of unaccompanied and separated children and young people on the move, their circumstances and wishes.

It has been developed by the University of Strathclyde-based Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection with the support of members of the Geneva-based Taskforce for Children on the Move.

The course is sponsored by the Taskforce to enable all learners to achieve a certificate of the completion of their learning free of charge and is aimed front line workers, volunteers, policy makers and others who have a responsibility and interest in protecting and promoting appropriate care for unaccompanied and separated children, to address any gaps in the knowledge, skills and capacities they may have.

The course will equip learners with an understanding of how to discern and respond to the needs, circumstances and wishes of these children as well as those at risk of separation. This includes resources and information to support prevention of family/primary caregiver separation; prevention of unnecessary placement of a child in alternative care; and, when such care is necessary, ensuring the availability of suitable alternative care.

Professor Jennifer Davidson, CELCIS executive director, said: “Some of the world’s youngest citizens are facing the greatest adversities; meeting their care and protection needs is a daily responsibility of people in public and voluntary services across the globe.

“We’re delighted to be able to work alongside leading international humanitarian agencies to provide this new practical learning, to help support those working with children and young people to better realise children’s rights and improve their life chances.”

Nigel Smith, MD of courses and learning at FutureLearn, said: “FutureLearn has a rich tradition of delivering humanitarian courses. We recently partnered with Amnesty International to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example, and, along with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, provided frontline healthcare professionals with a course to help contextualise the Ebola crisis of 2015 and help manage its outbreak.

"We are really proud of this work and delighted to be partnering with such prominent international humanitarian agencies and children’s rights organisations in the delivery of Caring for Children Moving Alone and be providing a course on such an important topic.”     

Verena Knaus, UNICEF senior migration advisor, said: “Around the world, thousands of children are travelling across and between borders as unaccompanied and separated children.

"There are important international standards and policies in place across the world, including principles and commitments agreed to under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children; and the Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees.

"The guidance in the course takes these into account and helps learners to understand how to work in ways that implement the aims and aspirations of such commitments.” 

Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: “Unaccompanied and separated children are especially vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation, yet struggle to find or access the assistance they need. Their protection will remain high on our agenda, and we must strengthen our capacity to keep them safe.”

Lead educator for the course, Dr Chrissie Gale, CELCIS’s International Lead said: “At the heart of this course is the central question: ‘What could care workers do better to support unaccompanied and separated children?’

“The truly dynamic content of this course is informed by the expertise and first-hand experience of young people, professionals, volunteers, and academics from a host of leading international organisations and institutions.

"Through this course learners will be able to learn at their own pace and share ideas, concerns and examples of good practice with other learners across the world.”

Using a combination of written and original video content, the course includes examples of real-life circumstances and of promising practice in Mexico, Ethiopia and Sicily, and a fictionalised story to take learners through the application of the new learning they acquire as the course unfolds.




University of Strathclyde

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