As GEM has learned through its expansion to five countries, student needs and the nature of the challenges they face vary according to location, life situations and ever-changing political tides.
When the COVID-19 pandemic presented additional challenges to student lives and their studies, GEM listened to partners and students in order to repurpose funds to offer students the support needed to ensure both partners and students could thrive.
On the whole, in 2020, the spread of COVID-19 presented more challenges for GEM students living in urban areas compared to camps. This is likely due to the fact that students living in urban areas don’t have housing and food provisions. In contrast, students living in camps are often offered assistance in these matters, although certainly not always to an ideal standard to support success in university programs. Since refugees living in urban areas are already at the economic fringe of their cities, economic shutdowns put additional strains on basic survival needs such as housing and food.
The pandemic offered the GEM team a critical opportunity to ensure student needs and their successes are continuously analyzed and addressed within the GEM model. GEM continued its general support of emergency cases, and also worked closely with partners on repurposing the budget for much-needed general support, including internet access at home, counseling services and food.