Czechs open their universities for Syrian refugees

Program is to be launched next academic year as humanitarian project

Prague, May 3 (ČTK) — At least 20 students from the ranks of Syrian refugees in Jordan may be enrolled at Czech universities in the next six years, according to the study program proposed by the Foreign Ministry and to be debated by the government on Wednesday.

The costs of the refugees’ study program in the Czech Republic may be estimated at about 5 million Kč a year, the Foreign Ministry said.

After a year, the authorities will evaluate the program and will decide on whether it may include some more students, it added.

The program is to educate the elites of the country devastated by a civil war, the report said.

“The proposed fellowship program of the Czech Republic has a humanitarian character in the sense of aid to refugees and also a development character,” it added.

“Within it, university education will be enabled to future Syrian elites. Czech and European know-how will be passed and further development of Syria-Czech relations will be enhanced after the end of the conflict and the graduates’ return to their homeland,” the report said.

The program is to be launched at the beginning of the new academic year. Its participants will at first pass a one-year language course and then will join a five-year university study.

The candidates for fellowships will be chosen by the Czech embassy in Amman along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), taking “into special account the most oppressed population groups and gender equality.”

The students will be eventually chosen by the education and foreign ministries.

“The selection process will include a thorough security check conducted by the Interior Ministry and Czech intelligence services collaborating with Jordanian partners,” the report said.

The Syrian students will only be allowed to stay in the Czech Republic without their family members and will pledge to return to their homeland upon graduation.

The costs of the 20 fellowships for the Syrian refugees will be covered by the Foreign, Education and Health ministries from the money to be spent on foreign development cooperation.

Three million people have been displaced in Syria due to the civil war lasting for four years. They mostly found shelter in the neighboring countries, primarily Turkey and Jordan.

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