Academic helps to bring degree level study to refugees on the Thai Burma border

Published: 15 November 2010 at 16:18

Introducing higher education study to people displaced from Burma.

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On the Thai Burma border, in the Nu Poe Karen Refugee camp, higher education is being offered, centred on four online modules covering study skills and geography, all written and supervised by an Anglia Ruskin University academic.

Anthony Russell, a senior lecturer from the Faculty of Education, is the academic adviser to Ireland’s Dundalk Institute of Technology’s (DKiT) ‘Global Borders’ initiative.

The course, entitled ‘Peopling the Globe’, deals with study skills, migration, population, culture and ethnic issues. This work grew out of Anthony’s involvement with DkiT and Ulster University in the European Union funded ‘Borderlands’ project, which looked at the history, geography, literature, cinema, politics and archaeology of borderlands. However, the study skills module also drew upon Anthony’s work on reflection and skill acquisition in Anglia Ruskin University’s online, BA (Hons) Learning Through Technology and MA Learning Through Technology programmes.

In addition to writing the modules Anthony has weekly synchronous, online sessions, (Skype and Moodle) with Catherine Daly, the volunteer teacher, from DkIT, in Nu Poe.  They discuss progress and Anthony advises on teaching strategies, next steps and assessment.

‘Global Borders’ is offered in conjunction with ‘World Education’, which is seeking to help the 1.4 million peoples displaced from Burma. Anthony works closely with both Niamh De Loughry, of World Education and Margaret Clarke, the project leader from DkIT. In February he will go to the Nu Poe camp to teach, and to discuss the future direction and development of the project.

Speaking about the innovative nature of the programme Anthony Russell from Anglia Ruskin University comments:

"This project - with two EU institutions working closely together - shows the developing power of the worldwide web."

"Isolated only by camp regulations, the refugee students have access to the teaching and resources of a UK university, not to mention the open courseware offered by leading institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the BBC. We are re-examining the concept of core and periphery in education."

Burma has suffered political and armed conflict for more than five decades as a result of the crisis between the repressive military regime, political opponents and ethnic groups.

For further information contact Anthony Russell via email at