A graduate from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) who who fled Afghanistan alone at the age of 16 has been crowned ‘outstanding individual learner’ at this year’s Festival of Learning awards.
Habib Rezaie has received the award for his exceptional achievement in adult learning which included volunteering to care for others through DMU's award-winning Square Mile initiative.
The award recognises adults who, through learning, have transformed their own lives and the lives of their families, friends, their communities and the places they work.
Habib (pictured) came to the UK ten years ago, when he was 16, to seek asylum. He was unable to speak English and was taken into care by Leicester City Council. In just 10 years, his hard work has paid off and he is now a recent graduate in Computing for Business at DMU.
Starting his learning journey with English and ICT qualifications through Leicester College, Habib’s confidence, as well as his education, improved. Alongside his studies, Habib became a mentor for other care leavers and volunteered his time at After 18, a Leicester-based charity that supports unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people, as part of DMU’s Square Mile programme.
Habib said: “Education is the most important thing in my life as it gives me hope for the future and allows me to make a positive contribution to my community. Education has basically turned a mirror into a window. You can see things from a different point of view.”
His award nominator, Melissa Page, HE Guidance Officer at DMU, said: “Habib has demonstrated how a desire and commitment to learning against all the odds can provide hope and direction in someone's life.”
Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute, said: “Habib’s award recognises his special commitment to learning which has not only transformed his own life, but is now helping many others. Habib’s journey is an inspiration to us all and goes to show just how much can be achieved with hard work and the right opportunities.
“Lifelong learning is crucial for all of us as jobs and society changes around us and the working population gets older. Festival of Learning is all about people being inspired by stories like Habib’s. We encourage everyone to get involved in learning and access information on learning opportunities and support with the costs of learning that might be available, such as through Advanced Learner Loans or from the National Careers Service, as well as talking to their local colleges and providers about what’s on offer”.
The Royal Society of Arts in London will be the setting for today’s prestigious awards ceremony at which nine learners, employers and training providers, including Habib, will be singled out for their “inspirational” lifelong-learning stories.