Stories: An Asylum Seeker's experience of education in the United Kingdom - UK

Published by
Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)
Written by
Jáfia Naftali Câmara
Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This story was collected as part of INEE's 20th Anniversary commemoration to highlight how education in the midst of crisis and upheaval has made a difference for our members and those they work with (learners, youth, teachers, caregivers, etc.). For more stories, click here.

An Asylum Seeker's experience of education in the United Kingdom

Name: Jáfia Naftali Câmara

Organization: None

Location: United Kingdom 

I have had the opportunity to study English and Maths for free at college. I just need to show proof that I am an asylum seeker. When I arrived here, I did not speak any English, just ‘hello’ and ‘how are you.’ But I have been in college for almost two years and I have learned a lot. I have met friendly and kind people from different cultures at college.

Before COVID-19, my English classes were twice a week for 3.5 hours each day. I would like to have access to more English classes because I want to improve my English. I would like to study more and maybe become a nurse. Improving my English would help me help my kids with their homework and make it easier for me to talk about my health when I go to the doctor. I want to learn more, but as an asylum seeker, I am not allowed to study more hours at college.

My kids were doing well at school when they were going too. They speak very good English now. They like their school, but they would like to participate in more extra-curricular activities like their friends do. Extra-curricular activities need to be paid for, but I do not have money because I am not allowed to work. The support from the Home Office is just for food. It is sad I do not have money to pay for them.

I asked their school if they can help children who cannot afford to pay for these activities, and they say they do not have enough support from the government. They charge for the uniform, trips to the zoo or any other place, or to join a sports club. The school charges for everything.

* As told by Jáfia Naftali Câmara - Maria S.* is a pseudonym


The views expressed in this blog are the author's own