HALF A MILLION REFUGEE AND HOST-COMMUNITY CHILDREN WILL BENEFIT FROM UGANDA’S EDUCATION RESPONSE FOR REFUGEES.
EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT STEPS UP EFFORTS TO PROTECT CHILDREN AT RISK.
Uganda has received more than a million refugees from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last two years. War, conflict and drought are pushing families and unaccompanied children to flee neighboring countries. Girls and boys are being pushed to the edge. And their future is at risk.
The Government of Uganda, backed by a broad international coalition including Education Cannot Wait, is stepping up to resolve this crisis, building from immediate first-emergency responses to an innovative multi-year response plan to deliver sustainable results across the scope of humanitarian and development aid efforts.
The progress in Uganda sets an example on how host countries with the support of international aid stakeholders can respond to such refugee crisis at a time when the need for emergency education response worldwide is growing. According to UNHCR, the number of forcibly displaced people hit a record of 68.5 million in 2017. This means that one person is displaced every two seconds. Of the 19.9 million refugees currently under the protection of the UNHCR, more than half are under the age of 18.
In all some 4 million refugee children are not enrolled in school. That’s about the total populations of New Zealand or Croatia.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK IN UGANDA
Huge steps have already been taken to create better educational environments for girls, boys, unaccompanied minors and adolescents arriving from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Somalia, among other places.
According to UNHCR, approximately 265,000 school-aged refugee children were enrolled in primary education in Uganda as of the end of 2017.
To reach all the refugee children living in the country, Education Cannot Wait facilitated the development of a 3.5-year Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities in Uganda, contributing US$11 million in seed funding to support the launch of the plan. The comprehensive plan looks to raise a total of US$389 million in total contributions to reach more than 560,000 refugee and host community children and youth. Girls and children with disabilities will be especially targeted in the response.
PUTTING LEARNERS FIRST
Young children and girls are some of the most vulnerable to migration. Not only does being a refugee take its toll on young bodies, it can also be extremely detrimental for young developing minds, and future educational outcomes.
Thanks to the support delivered in 2017-2018 by a coalition of aid actors including World Vision and UNICEF, with funding from Education Cannot Wait’s initial first emergency response, five-year-old Juma Mawa now attends school at the Hope for the Children Early Childhood Development Center in the Imvepi refugee settlement in Uganda’s Arua District.
“In South Sudan, I was not going to school but when we came here, the school was near and my father brought me here and I joined top class,” said Juma.
Like Juma, thousands of children have been reached with early childhood development program activities, psycho-social support and conducive play environments that are vital for the well-being of children and to help them overcome the trauma of their migration.
“There’s great improvement in children’s ability to identify letters, numbers and write. This has shown great improvement in their numeracy and literacy skills. Through the construction of permanent classrooms, Education Cannot Wait has boosted the ability of the caregivers to adequately plan and deliver their lessons… without having to worry about rain or the sun,” said Lucy Evelyn Atim, the World Vision child protection coordinator in Imvepi refugee settlement.
Around 5,000 children – half of whom are girls – have been enrolled in six Hope for the Children Schools. Two schools in the Odupi host community have also received support.
PUTTING GIRLS FIRST
Kojo Nancy is a 15-year-old refugee from South Sudan attending school at the Itula Secondary School.
“I first jointed Itula secondary school in February 2018. But there were a lot of challenges. Girls were sleeping in the classrooms, which led to a shortage of classrooms for learning. Girls were bathing in one shelter,” said Kojo Nancy.
With funding from Education Cannot Wait and support from Jesuit Refugee Service, Kojo Nancy and other girls like her now have a two-room dormitory (reserved just for girls), there are separate bathing facilities, a four-room classroom, incinerator and teacher’s quarters. Electricity comes from a solar panel, ensuring the school isn’t just safe for girls, but it’s also green and they can have light to study by.
“All these things they have done will lead to a great improvement in our health and performance. Not only for girls, but for the entire school,” said Kojo Nancy.
Video features images from UN Photographers and Jesuit Refugee Service.
Video courtesy Jesuit Refugee Service. Jasmine Poni is a refugee from South Sudan. She is finding new chances for safe, reliable education thanks to support from an Education Cannot Wait-financed project implemented by Jesuit Refugee Service in Uganda. With the construction of classrooms and a dormitory, girls and adolescent girls living here have a new safe space to learn, play and grow.
IN THEIR WORDS