At RET International we provide protection and resilience to vulnerable young people through education, but there is so much more to know about us. Here are a few of the questions frequently asked by our stakeholders.
What You Have Always Wanted to Know about RET InternationalPick a question and get your answer.
RET International, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, was founded in December 2000 by Mrs Sadako Ogata, then the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
RET International was purposefully founded to fill a large gap, which no other organisation could properly address with single headed focus.
During emergencies, the international community so often focuses its efforts on children or adults and young people are left lower in the list of priorities due to budgets simply not stretching far enough to encompass their needs and protection. They are often considered too old to be needing priority attention, as children or vulnerable young women do, and too young to be partners or leaders with whom to work. This lets them fall between the cracks of humanitarian action and is all the more tragic as they remain highly vulnerable, yet already bear responsibilities in their communities.
In times of crisis young people without access to education are vulnerable to violence, illegal activities, gangs, joining armed groups, sexual abuse, forced early marriage (child brides), sex trafficking, and so much more. Education provides them with the skills to confront these threats and become positive actors of their community.
RET was created because of this gap in youth education, which remains substantial today.
Even if at inception and during the first years of our existence RET was an abbreviation of the Foundation for the Refugee Education Trust, the meaning has evolved with our mandate (see why here). Today, what RET offers is Relief & Resilience through Education in Transition.
Relief from the threats of fragile environments and Resilience to cope with challenges
Education as the tool for individual protection and development
Transition out of crisis and towards more stable and peaceful communities, by considering young people as part of the solution
Upon inception, in 2000, RET International was named « The Foundation for the Refugee Education Trust ». At the time this was an accurate description of our role and mandate. When RET was created we worked exclusively with young refugees within refugee camp settings and acted essentially as a funding agency for local projects and organisations.
As RET’s experience grew over the years we realised that the tools and methods we were developing were equally effective to protect young people made vulnerable by emergencies and fragile contexts in general and not only in camps. Today, we work with young people made vulnerable by displacement, violence, armed conflict and disasters. This includes refugees, but also internally displaced populations, adolescent soldiers, gang members, youth affected by disasters and more.
Also, RET started creating and running its own projects and therefore became an implementing NGO and no longer a funding agency.
The terms “Foundation”, “Trust” and “Refugee” in the name « The Foundation for the Refugee Education Trust » became misleading as we are no longer a funding agency, nor do we work exclusively with refugees.
The acronym RET (short for Refugee Education Trust), was however used for many years. Today these three letters embody our work, dedication and our unique mandate focused on vulnerable young people.
However, in order to reflect the evolution and expansion of our work the acronym RET has evolved as well. Today we see it as meaning Relief & Resilience through Education in Transition.
This reflects the nature of our work in emergencies and crisis, our use of education as a protection tool and the fact that working with youth is the best way for communities to transition out of crisis and towards development (or as we like to say: “to bridge the gaps between humanitarian relief and development aid”).
As of 2015, with approval of the Swiss Authorities, our legal name has been officially changed in the Geneva Registry of Commerce from “The Foundation for the Refugee Education Trust” to “RET International”. A new name, but with the same commitment we have always had.
RET International is legally registered in the Register of Commerce of Geneva, Switzerland as a foundation.
In our countries of operations we have registered local branches of RET International, this is the case for Afghanistan, Turkey, Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador Panama and Venezuela. In some countries such as Lebanon, RET is a local non-governmental organisation and not a branch of RET International.
In order to simplify relations and collaboration with key donor governments, independent but affiliated non-profit organisations were created under RET International’s umbrella.
There exists, therefore, RET Japan in Tokyo, RET Germany in Bonn and Berlin and RET USA in Washington. These organisations and their representatives work with the same mandate and institutional identities as RET International, but offer more proximity with partner governments and better integrated administrative statutes. They report to RET International’s CEO for strategy and operations, who in turn reports to RET International’s Foundation Board.
Even though RET International is recognised by the United Nations Economic and Social Council and holds a consultative status, we are an independent organisation and are not part of the United Nations.
We were born out of a strong relationship with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at the time of the 50th Anniversary of the UN’s Refugee Agency, when Mrs Ogata, our founder, was High Commissioner for Refugees (read more about why we were created).
RET works closely and productively with UNHCR and other United Nations agencies in most countries of operation and shares a number of Memorandum of Understandings that foster mutual support and respectful, complementary cooperation.
We nevertheless remain independent.
RET International was purposefully founded as an independent, impartial, non-partisan organisation, with no religious or political affiliation.
RET International takes high ethical standards seriously, all the more so as we work in environments which are often fragile and conducive to abuse. For this reason we have developed a series of policies which guide our staff and project implementation:
In addition, as part of our « Policies & Procedures », RET has created and publishes numerous manuals such as our Finance Manual, Procurement Manual, Human Resource Manual, amongst others.
The RET has set up different methods of monitoring, follow-up, evaluation and reporting as follows:
– Performance Indicators are identified in the logical framework of the project/programme proposal for all areas to be evaluated; the RET measures all results against objectives and the performance indicators.
– Monthly report of structural progress from the regional representatives.
– Quarterly reports from the partners involved in the implementation of the programmes.
– Annual reports from the partners involved.
– Needs and Assets Assessment Field missions at initial stage of exploration, where we evaluate the general situation, educational needs and possibilities to set up activities in a new area.
– Informal and frequent email and phone contacts with all people involved in the development of our activities.
– Substantive and financial Donor reports are provided when required, as specified at the beginning of the project/programme.
The diagram below offers a more detailed view of the framework in which our projects are implemented and monitored.
RET International Monitoring & Evaluation Cycle