Strategic Direction for Cisarua Learning

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The journey for Cisarua Learning started over four years ago when a group of refugee women took the brave step to risk their refugee status and started teaching the refugee children stuck in limbo. This simple and selfless act redefined the possibilities for the refugee community, and has since inspired a refugee-led education revolution across Indonesia. After over four years, the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre is one of the most successful refugee-led projects worldwide.

Their courage has inspired refugees across Indonesia, the school they started is an educational resource for Australians wanting to know more about refugees and it receives hundreds of visitors from around the world every year.

In addition, we have presented their story to thousands through the feature documentary, The Staging Post. Each screening is an opportunity to create human connections between the audience and the refugees stuck in Indonesia.

We are committed to the idea, ’refugees can be a part of the solution’, and have developed a strategic plan based around the three central areas which have contributed to our success.

In Cisarua/Indonesia.

We continue to support the CRLC, which is increasingly being written about by academics and recognised by practitioners as a world-leading example of refugee capacity and agency. Increasingly we spread our resources to other refugee-led initiatives via joint-workshops, rent subsidies, syllabus support, friendship and accompaniment.

Some specific goals include,

• Paying all the teachers at the CRLC a ‘living stipend’.

• Supporting the rent of other refugee-led learning centres.

• Providing continued teacher training for refugee teachers in Indonesia.

• Advocating for recognition and support from the UNHCR and Indonesian Government.

• Supporting the establishment of new learning centres.

• Encouraging education programmes inside Indonesian detention camps.

• Maintaining a positive relationship with the Indonesian Government and local community.

• Expanding online classes to provide education for older refugees.

• To close the gap between primary education and university level opportunities.

Building community between Australians and refugees.

The release and overwhelming success of The Staging Post, has helped us to create new connections, friendships and education opportunities between Australians and refugees. Each screening is an opportunity for Australians to meet and learn about refugees, from refugees.

Schools and universities have been some of the most receptive spaces for The Staging Post screenings. When students meet Muzafar and Skype with the teachers and kids in Cisaura, it is often the first time they have met a refugee. This is an important milestone for Australians, as they are challenged to form their opinions about refugees.

Ultimately we hope to create a borderless community of refugees and Australians and we plan to continue this outreach, education and advocacy program in Australia.

International advocacy.

In 2017/18 Muzafar Ali attended a number of refugee-focussed conferences. In particular the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration conference in Thessoliniki, Greece. We discovered that the idea behind the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre that, ‘refugees can be a part of the solution’ is also relevant at a global level. We plan to present our experience and learning to global thought leaders and multi-lateral actors, in order to encourage their engagement with the refugee community.