Education provides purpose and skills and enables people to socialise, integrate and move on with their lives.
Robert, 45, is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been in the UK for several years after escaping horrific human rights abuses in his home country and is an active member of his new community in Glasgow.
“My first target when arriving in Scotland was to learn how to speak English – to help me to speak to people and to help other people. I can translate for friends. If I didn’t know how to speak English, how could I help other people? I want to be a model for other people, to show that you can build a life for yourself here in your new community.
“As an asylum seeker, people think that we are not qualified. But we are. The problem is that nobody tells us our rights. When we come here we are blind. We don’t know our rights. Nobody takes the time to tell us – now you are an asylum seeker, here’s what the process looks like, you are qualified for this, you have to do this, don’t do this etc. They just leave us in limbo.
“Education can change people’s minds. You’re meeting people, you share experiences. I am alone, I have no family here, so the students I study with have become part of my family. We go places together and support each other. If I am denied education and access to these spaces, where can I meet people and get support?
“Destitution is designed to isolate you from others. But we are part of this society, this community, I can’t let people chase me away from the community. My problems, my situation, they don’t matter – let me be part of my community.
“I don’t want to feel ashamed.”