UNITED IN HOPE

Sawa (left) and Dogodjima (right) posed in their new classroom built with the ECW fund in Moyen Chari, Chad. Photo UNICEF/Chad.
Sawa (left) and Dogodjima (right) pose in their new classroom built with the ECW fund in Moyen Chari, Chad. Photo UNICEF/Chad.

NEW CLASSROOMS BUILT FROM EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT INVESTMENT IN CHAD DELIVER REAL RESULTS

STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Special Contribution by UNICEF Chad

Dogodjima, 16, is a 5th grader at Ferme Taguina primary school where he attends classes with his best friend Sawa. Eight years ago, Dogodjima fled war in the Central African Republic (CAR) and arrived in the south of Chad with his family.

Sawa, 15, is a native of the village. He is used to seeing refugees and returnees in his school. “Since our village is located at the border with CAR, we have families who escaped violence in CAR and settled here. We should welcome them and share what we have.”

Dogodjima and Sawa are well placed to speak about how the support from Education Cannot Wait through its 24-month Initial Investment in Chad has significantly improved learning conditions in school.

“Due to the lack of classrooms, older students like us used to attend classes under trees or in straw huts. It became particularly difficult during the rainy season. We sometimes continued classes under the rain.”

Thanks to the Education Cannot Wait support, classes took place in temporary learning spaces protecting both students and teachers from rain while the construction of three new classrooms was underway. To date, over 186,000 children have been reached with the US$10 million investment, including 83,000 girls. The investment is delivered through a grant to UNICEF and is implemented by the Ministry of Education with NGO partners ACRA, Jesuit Refugee Service and Refugee Education Trust (RET) International.

The investment is mobilizing community support to reach its goal of constructing 126 classrooms in all. Dogodjima and Sawa were thrilled that their fathers helped build the classrooms. “Our fathers attended many meetings held with village chiefs, the construction firm and RET International to take part in the construction work. Having seen our fathers working hard to build our classrooms, we are determined to continue our study to not disappoint them.”

Dogodjima hopes to stay in Chad to build his future with decent educational opportunities. He further hopes that other CAR refugee children in need of education will attend school with him. “You see, we now have new classrooms to welcome them among us.”

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The Children of the Lake Chad Crisis

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

THE WILL TO LEARN

Zakaria, 12, standing next to his school in Al-Jaffrah town of Deir-ez-Zor, rehabilitated by UNICEF with funding from Education Cannot Wait. Photo UNICEF/Syria
Zakaria, 12, standing next to his school in Al-Jaffrah town of Deir-ez-Zor, rehabilitated by UNICEF with funding from Education Cannot Wait. Photo UNICEF/Syria

REHABILITATED CLASSROOMS SUPPORTED THROUGH EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND UNICEF IN SYRIA GIVES A BOY WITH A CONGENITAL HEART DISEASE A NEW LEASE ON LIFE

‘I don’t want any child anywhere in the world to lose their right to learn’ – Zakaria, 12.

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by UNICEF Syria

As violence escalated in Deir-ez-Zor, Syria, almost five years ago, Zakaria and his family had nowhere else to go and chose to stay in their hometown of Al-Jaffrah.

When fighting destroyed the only school in town, Zakaria’s only alternative was to continue his learning by walking to a school in a nearby town, an hour away on foot.  However, born with a congenital heart disease, the daily walk of over eight kilometers proved

Photo UNICEF/Syria.
Photo UNICEF/Syria.

arduous.

“I felt different from other kids who could walk to school easily over the long journey,” recalls Zakaria, now 12. Despite all the challenges Zakaria continued to walk to school, carrying his heavy school bag, but still determined to continue his learning to become a teacher when he grows up.

Thanks to funding through Education Cannot Wait’s Initial Investment in Syria, UNICEF and partners rehabilitated eight schools in Deir-ez-Zor, including 116 classrooms, allowing Zakaria and 3,500 other boys and girls to continue their learning. Since its start in April 2017, the US$15 million investment has reached 177,000 children, including 85,000 girls. To support the unique needs of children growing up in conflict, the programme has strengthened the capacity of the education system to ensure a timely and coordinated education response, improved equitable access to education and learning opportunities, and improved the quality and relevance of education within a more protective environment.

“I’m so happy to be back in my original school,” says Zakaria with a grin. “I don’t want any child anywhere in the world to lose their right to learn.”

In 2019, 13 new schools are being rehabilitated in Deir-ez-Zor to ensure more children can return to their classrooms.

With the hard work of six international NGOs and 11 Syrian NGOs across the country, some 85,000 children have been enrolled and supported in education services to date. The programme also looks to empower teachers and communities. Since its start, some 2,600 teachers and other education personnel have received stipends and incentives, and 1,237 classrooms have been established or rehabilitated.

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Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

Photo UNICEF/Syria.
Photo UNICEF/Syria.

A BRIGHTER FUTURE

PROVIDING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN IN GAZA BUILDS FOUNDATIONS FOR PEACE, SECURITY AND PROSPERITY

Teacher Samah Sawaf with her students at Mamounia Elementary Co-ed School “B” © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan
Teacher Samah Sawaf with her students at Mamounia Elementary Co-ed School “B”.© 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan

STORIES FROM THE FIELD

PROVIDING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN IN GAZA HELPS THEM ACHIEVE THEIR POTENTIAL – AND HOPE

Special Contribution By Mona Abu-Sharekh, UNWRA Visibility Officer

Samah Sawaf is a 42-year-old teacher for second grade students at Mamounia Elementary Co-ed School “B,” in Gaza City. Her ten years of experience working at schools supported through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provided her with a good understanding of the specific educational and psychosocial needs of students living in challenging contexts such as Gaza.

“Before settling in Gaza, I worked as an education facilitator in Canada and as a teacher in Kuwait. I often compare these different learning environments and I wonder how these young students manage to study and focus in such an unstable setting where they constantly hear about tragic human stories? This strongly affects their confidence in the future and, thus, their capacity to learn and study,” Samah says.

 

Palestine refugee students at Mamounia Elementary Co-ed School “B” © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan
Palestine refugee students at Mamounia Elementary Co-Ed School “B”.© 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

Gaza is a 40-kilometer-long coastal enclave and home to approximately 1.4 million Palestine refugees, or two-thirds of the overall population. Due to years of a long-standing blockade and political unrest, most of the people are struggling to survive. To make things worse, Gaza is seeing increased poverty levels, high unemployment, a deteriorating economy, and scarcity of energy and drinkable water.

Amid these difficult living conditions, education plays a crucial role in supporting children’s development and self-esteem and gives them hope for the future.

Having contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, UNRWA looks to education as a key element to protect the children of Gaza. The Agency provides basic education to more than 279,000 students in 274 schools in Gaza. UNRWA is the main provider of primary education to Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip.

At the heart of the UNRWA education programme is a strong commitment to provide quality, inclusive and equitable education for Palestine refugees, despite the difficult contexts in which they live. This strategic outcome seeks to build on the achievements to date of the UNRWA education reform with a focus on embedding, enriching and sustaining the achievements.

In 2011, UNRWA embarked on a systemic Agency-wide education reform process which sought to strengthen the UNRWA education system in order to support each and every child towards realising their full potential.

Supported by its education in emergencies response, UNRWA has continued to deliver education in times of crisis through the introduction of innovations such as student self-learning through the dedicated UNRWA  YouTube channel and an interactive learning website to develop numeracy and literacy skills.

As children in Gaza grow up in challenging conditions, frequently surrounded by poverty and violence, UNRWA-supported schools provide them with a safe place to learn and play.

Palestine refugee students are using support kits at Mamounia Elementary Co-ed School “B” © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan
Palestine refugee students are using support kits at Mamounia Elementary Co-Ed School “B”. © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan

PUTTING STUDENTS FIRST

“As the classrooms are overcrowded, the main difficulty is to offer space for every student to express himself or herself. I have a class of 42 students and the lesson lasts for 45 minutes which allows less than one minute for every child to share his or her ideas.  This makes it difficult for teachers to be inclusive and to ensure that no student feels neglected,” Samah said.

Despite these difficult working conditions, Samah does her best to provide her students with an enabling learning environment.

“When my students enter the classroom, I want them to know that they are in a safe place. If the child feels comfortable in the classroom, he or she will be more confident to participate and thus will be better integrated. I also think teaching students in a participative and interactive manner is more interesting and enhances students’ motivation and achievements.  This is why I acknowledge the usefulness and importance of the education tools that we received last year from Education Cannot Wait,” Samah said.

Over the past few years and through the UNRWA education reform, Samah and all the UNRWA teachers have been supported in implementing student-centred, active teaching and learning strategies.

Palestine refugee students are using support kits at Mamounia Elementary Co-ed School “B” © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan
A young Palestine refugee student, plays with a giant die, part of the support kit at Mamounia Elementary Co-Ed School “B” © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan

ENHANCING THE LEARNING PROCESS

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) contributed to safeguarding the right of UNRWA school-aged children to complete quality, equitable and inclusive basic education through different interventions including support to teachers, provision of literacy and numeracy support kits, fans and school furniture, school maintenance and training on non-violence for education of staff and members of school parliaments.

The learning support materials purchased through the ECW investment have helped to enhance the learning process and provided a means for interaction and diverse teaching methodologies, strengthening students’ engagement and motivation. In times of crisis, it is even more key to develop the skills and competencies of children and help them achieve their full potential.

“The education tools we received as part of this investment, notably the Arabic alphabet printed cards, the portable theatres, the abacuses, the numeracy games and conversation plates, had a great impact on students’ motivation and involvement in the lessons. I noticed that these tools facilitate the learning process as students can visualize the abstract ideas and thus better memorize the information. Lessons are definitely more attractive when we use interactive tools and games as a way of learning,” Samah said.

Not only the teachers but also the students did notice the positive effect of these new tools. As in any education in emergencies response, student participation was an important part of the Education Cannot Wait-based investment. Empowering students is key to enhancing students’ own well-being and that of their peers and to creating an environment that is conducive to learning. Student engagement also helps to place students in a better position to deal with negative emotions and cope with the difficult living circumstances in Gaza.

“My class is much more colourful than before; we also do many more works in groups with these new tools, thanks to which I made new friends. For a long time I thought that studying was hard and boring but now, I discovered that it can be fun too, especially when we use the theatre item!”  said one of the school’s students, Mohammed Buhaisi.  

Mayar Mahfouz, a second-grade student says the new furniture has improved her learning environment. “I like when visitors come to the classroom and get impressed by how nice it is. It makes me feel proud and happy. Our classroom is so nice and so well equipped now that I want to preserve it and to spend more time in it.”

 

Teacher Areej Shaafout with her students at Mamounia Elementary Co-ed School “B” © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan
UNRWA teacher Areej Shaafout with her students at Mamounia Elementary Co-Ed chool “B” © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan

Areej Shaafout, another teacher from Al Mamounia Elementary Co-ed School “B,” explains how the literacy learning support kits offer a solution to deal with the issue of overcrowded classrooms while enhancing literacy teaching: “I teach students in grade 1 and 2 to read and write and this requires patience and focus. The support kits catch students’ attention and help them to concentrate for a longer time as it gives them an opportunity to play instead of merely listening. I am happy to say that now, all of my 42 students can write and read!”

The Education Cannot Wait investment was key in providing targeted support to the overall UNRWA education programme and its education-in-emergencies approach. By building on the UNRWA education programme, the investment’s activities were embedded in the existing system, ensuring a maximized and long-term impact beyond 2018. However, for UNRWA to be able to sustain the delivery of education and consolidate existing efforts, commitment from donors to provide adequate and predictable funding is key.

© 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan
A young Palestine refugee student engages with visual aids that are part of the support kits at Mamounia Elementary Co-Ed School “B” © 2019 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan

STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

FROM CONFLICT TO THE CLASSROOM – A REFUGEE’S STORY

The author Benoite Gyubahiro (right) at Bambasi refugee camp primary school with a classmate. She is the only student from DRC in her 8th Grade class, whereas the vast majority are from Sudan. © UNICEF/Ethiopia/2019/Tsegaye
The author Benoite Gyubahiro (right) at Bambasi refugee camp primary school with a classmate. She is the only student from DRC in her 8th Grade class, whereas the vast majority are from Sudan. © UNICEF/Ethiopia/2019/Tsegaye

BENOITE GYUBAHIRO RECOUNTS HER INSPIRING JOURNEY FROM THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO TO BECOME A TEACHER AND STUDENT IN ETHIOPIA’S DISPLACEMENT CAMPS

I came to Ethiopia in 2013, and lived in the Sherkole refugee camp, where I spent four years. Before Sherkole I was studying in a government school in Uganda. Now I am in Bambasi Camp [in Ethiopia], where I have been for the last two years. When I left my home country the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I was 12 years old and studying in Grade 2. We lived in a rural area close to the capital Kinshasa.

War made us leave DRC. It was a war between two tribes. When it broke out in Rwanda, some Rwandan people fled to the Congo. Many in the Congo wanted them to go back. And that’s why there is conflict there.

My parents could sense there might be a problem and decided to leave before things became bad. While the conflict was on, we were not there to see it. I was in Uganda at the time studying in a government school in Grade 4. I did not see anyone get killed because we left before the real danger.

Eventually, we had to leave Uganda as well. My parents decided that we needed to get away to the farthest place possible. They communicated with relatives in Kenya who advised us to go to Ethiopia, because it was safer there.

We traveled by bus. I took one bag with clothes only. Everything else, we left behind. We couldn’t bring anything as we didn’t have the time. I don’t even have a passport or any identification. My parents do, but I have nothing.

Both my parents are educated. Back in the DRC my father worked as a photographer for the government. He took pictures and held exhibitions. Among other things he photographed dying people. He now studies at the University in Assosa. My mother worked simple jobs with UNICEF and Save the Children.

Right now, I am a 2nd Grade teacher. I teach mathematics: addition and subtraction. But I am also a Grade 8 student. I try to manage my time between teaching and studying. Between 8 am and 12 pm, I am at school teaching 100 students. Then I come back in the afternoon to pursue my own studies. It is difficult to manage, but I try. As a teacher I make 805 birr per month.

An Ethiopian national teaches my Grade 8 class of 65 students. He teaches in English and is very helpful. He’s a good teacher, but I want to be better than him.

I don’t get to interact much with the Ethiopians — our host community — because I am always busy, usually at school. I also have chores to do: making food and collecting water. When I cook, it’s usually rice, beans and meat. Tonight, I will cook fish that I bought from the market today.

For fun, I sometimes play volleyball, which I like. I have made some friends from Sudan in the camp. We communicate in English and I help whoever is interested to learn more.

After Grade 8 I want to go to Grade 9. I will then go to the new school (constructed with funds from Education Cannot Wait), something I am looking forward to.

I received some basic training in teaching (but not a professional certificate). I want to continue teaching now but eventually, I want to become a doctor. I am not married yet and I don’t want to have kids either. Maybe in the future.

For now, I want to stay in Ethiopia as it is better here. I think it is possible to learn Amharic and settle down and live here, where there is peace.

 

Benoite Gyubahiro at Bambasi refugee camp primary school with her Sudanese classmates. Of the more than 62,000 refugees in the region, 72% are from Sudan, 26.5% are from South Sudan, and 1% are Congolese (with 0.5% from other places). © UNICEF/Ethiopia/2019/Tsegaye
Benoite Gyubahiro at Bambasi refugee camp primary school with her Sudanese classmates. Of the more than 62,000 refugees in the region, 72% are from Sudan, 26.5% are from South Sudan, and 1% are Congolese (with 0.5% from other places). © UNICEF/Ethiopia/2019/Tsegay

Benoite Gyubahiro (17) is a Grade 2 teacher and student from Democratic Republic of the Congo, currently living as a refugee in Ethiopia. As told to Amanda Westfall, Communications and Resource Mobilization Specialist at UNICEF Ethiopia. View original.

 

ENSURING EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR REFUGEE AND HOST COMMUNITY CHILDREN IN ETHIOPIA

Pal Biel Jany, 15, grade 4, wants to be the future president of South Sudan. He goes to school in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
Pal Biel Jany, 15, grade 4, wants to be the future president of South Sudan. He goes to school in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

Refugee primary school teacher Changkuoth Ter Wal explains the importance of investing in new schools and teacher training diploma programmes. With US$15 million from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), new schools and trained teachers are on the rise in the refugee-hosting regions of Gambella and Benishangal-Gumuz.  Story originally published  on UNICEF Ethiopia.

By Amanda Westfall

Like most children in Tierkidi Refugee Camp in Gambella, Ethiopia, 15-year-old Pal Biel Jany fled from violence in South Sudan five years ago. He left his entire immediate family behind and currently lives with his aunt in the camp.

Pal has been displaced and separated from his parents and siblings for nearly one-third of his life. For refugee children, especially those experiencing traumatic displacement processes, it is imperative that they find stability and support – and schools can play a significant role.

Pal is lucky to have Changkuoth Ter Wal as his fourth-grade teacher at Teirkidi #3 Primary School. Changkuoth was never given the opportunity to attend formal training for teaching – like most refugee teachers who hold no professional diplomas and only participate in short trainings offered at the camp. Nevertheless, he is determined to improve the conditions for the next generation.

Changkuoth, Ter, 26, is a grade 4 science teacher. He joined Tierkidi School No. 3, Refugee Camp in 2014. His first daughter, 6, goes to the same school where he teaches. Whereas his wife, 22, is in grade 10 and goes to Diaca Secondary School located in the same Refugee Camp. He is hopeful that the buildings currently being constructed will help overcome the various obstacles that the students face such as; rain, outdoor noises and heat created by the metal walls. Tierkidi School No. 3, Refugee Camp, Itang Woreda, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
Changkuoth, Ter, 26, is a grade 4 science teacher. He joined Tierkidi School No. 3, Refugee Camp in 2014. His first daughter, 6, goes to the same school where he teaches. His wife, 22, is in grade 10 and goes to Diaca Secondary School located in the same Refugee Camp. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

“I can see how education is good for the community and the children. In South Sudan and here in the camps, there are more illiterate people than educated,” said Changkuoth.

But the situation changed last summer when he was given an opportunity of a life time. He and 343 other refugees were told they would be able to attend college and pursue teaching diplomas. Now, they can finally become professional teachers and improve the quality of education for refugee children.

In addition to investing in teachers, the refugee camps are benefitting from the construction of new schools and classrooms. Primary and secondary school access is still low (at a 75 per cent and 12.5 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio for Gambella region) and class congestion is extremely high (the primary school student/teacher ratio is 106:1). With the expansion of learning spaces and investments in teacher training, the hope is to bring more children to school, reduce congestion, and improve the delivery of education.

The new schools are part of a US$15 million two-year investment by Education Cannot Wait, a new global fund for education in crisis hosted by UNICEF. The investment includes the construction of three new inclusive model secondary schools, 41 classrooms in eight secondary schools, 84 classrooms in four primary schools, and the provision of classroom furniture (desks, chairs, chalkboards) in Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambella regions, which are host to mostly South Sudanese refugees.

But the support goes further than construction, since infrastructure alone may increase access to schools, but doesn’t guarantee quality of teaching in the schools. The investment also supports teacher training through diploma programmes (like the one Changkuoth attends) as well as providing teaching and learning materials.

Students learning in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
Students learning in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR REFUGEES AND HOST COMMUNITIES

Pal’s camp sits within three kilometers of the neighboring ‘host’ Ethiopian community. Like their refugee peers, the host community also struggles with poverty and limited access to quality education. The Education Cannot Wait-supported investment brings equal opportunities for education to both host and refugee children and introduces integrated services through the construction of new secondary schools where both refugee and host children can learn together in government-run schools overseen by the Ministry of Education. Key project partners include the Ministry of Education, the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs, UNICEF, and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Niyakueka Gatluak, 20, teaches grade 1 students in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp. She teaches Nuer language (Thok Naath), spoken by Nuer people of South Sudan and people of Gambella. She has a 9 months old son. She wants him to be a doctor when he grows up. Gambella Region, UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
Niyakueka Gatluak, 20, teaches grade 1 students in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp. She teaches Nuer language (Thok Naath), spoken by Nuer people of South Sudan and people of Gambella. She has a 9 months old son. She wants him to be a doctor when he grows up. Gambella Region, UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

MOVING FROM TEMPORARY TO STABLE

Classrooms like those currently at Tierkidi #3 were first constructed as temporary solutions when it was uncertain how long the refugees would stay in Ethiopia. the temporary low-cost structures were made of wood and metal sheets that could be destroyed by harsh weather but as the conflict continues in South Sudan, services can no longer be viewed as short-term solutions.

“The [temporary] school may fall down because of rain and wind so we are very excited with the new classrooms [permanent structures built from concrete bricks]. There will be so many advantages. When the students hit the metal sheets, it makes loud sounds and disturbs the children who are learning inside. With the new buildings this won’t happen,” said Changuoth.

Students posing for a picture for the camera outside of their classroom in Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp, Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha
The Makod Primary and Secondary School in Tierkidi Refugee Camp provides a safe and secure learning environment. Gambella Region. UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mersha

THE IMPACT OF THE INVESTMENT

Pal’s family trusts in him to gain a good education so he can help his younger siblings one day. For this reason, his family agreed that he lives with his aunt in the Tierkidi camp since there are no educational opportunities in South Sudan where his immediate family still lives.

“I have to work hard to complete my education so I can support my two younger brothers and three younger sisters who are still in South Sudan and can’t go to school,” said Pal.

Through the investment in construction, teacher training, and provision of teaching/learning materials, Pal and an expected 12,000 other children from refugee camps and surrounding host communities will enjoy an improved quality of education.

Story by Amanda Westfall, published with express permission from the original.

MORE PHOTOS

Gambella Region, Ethiopia

 

REVERSING THE CYCLE

IN ETHIOPIA PIONEERING PROGRAMME GIVES ADVANCED EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS TO TRAIN REFUGEE TEACHERS

IMG_20180816_110012
Poch Jackson Petov has been a refugee all his life. Energetic, determined and fearless, the 25-year-old Poch has created opportunities for himself – seemingly out of nothing. Photo © UNICEF

IN ETHIOPIA PIONEERING PROGRAMME GIVES ADVANCED EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIPS TO TRAIN REFUGEE TEACHERS

We live in a world where millions of people will live their entire lives as refugees. Living in camps, settlements and urban contexts, too often on the edge of society. These victims of conflict and crisis remain caught in a hard-to-fathom cycle of exclusion, despair and socio-economic marginalization.

For children and youth, this negative cycle is only made worse by a lack of continuous, safe and quality education, limited resources, and unqualified teachers.

Ethiopia has a long tradition of welcoming refugees. Currently it hosts Africa’s second largest refugee population and has one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Despite its generosity as a host-country, Ethiopia’s estimated 925,000 refugee population has put a strain on the country’s coping capacity to meet their needs. This is the frontlines of the refugee education crisis in Africa.

Only half of the refugee children living here have access to education. Girls are left further behind, with only 45 per cent attending school. For many of these refugee children, there are no classrooms, no books to read and few qualified teachers.

UNHCR notes that just 50 per cent of Ethiopia’s refugee schools fulfill minimum standards for safe and conducive learning environments.

But this is about to change.

The Government of Ethiopia has taken a strong stance to improve the rights and services enjoyed by refugees in the country. As part of the 2017 Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, Ethiopia has made nine pledges, including to “increase enrollment of refugee children in preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary education, without discrimination and within available resources.”

To support delivery of the response framework, and help Ethiopia achieve its goals of ending poverty and hunger, and ensuring equitable education for all by 2030 as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals, Education Cannot Wait partnered with UNICEF, UNHCR and the Government of Ethiopia to create a far-reaching US$15 million intervention that has already surpassed its goal of providing over 68,000 refugee children with quality education, quality school settings and quality teachers.

Somali refugee children share a meal inside a tent in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia. Fleeing drought and famine in their home country, thousands of Somalis have taken up residence across the border in Dollo Ado, where a complex of camps is assisted by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Somali refugee children share a meal inside a tent in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia in 2011. Dollo Ado, Ethiopia. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

TEACHING THE TEACHERS

One promising achievement coming out of this initial two-year programme is an innovative initiative to provide advanced education to train teachers working in refugee education centers.

Only a minority of those who teach in refugee primary schools in the intervention area are qualified professional teachers holding teaching diplomas. Many of these teachers are refugees themselves. Providing advanced education for these teachers not only improves the quality of education in the camps, but it also provides a real chance to reverse the negative cycle that perpetuates poverty traps and limits opportunities for refugees young and old.  In all, the project targets training for 1,000 teachers and education professionals, of whom 444 will be women.

Poch Jackson Petov has been a refugee all his life. Energetic, determined and fearless, the 25-year-old Poch has created opportunities for himself – seemingly out of nothing.

Poch’s father died in South Sudan before he was born and he was separated from his mother when he was in the second grade. He fled the violence in his home country to seek refuge in Ethiopia. Against all odds, he managed to gain a primary and secondary education and learn Amharic while living in the Sherkole Refugee Camp in Ethiopia.

Community-minded and driven, Poch became a “volunteer teacher” for the camp, making around US$25 a month to teach primary school.

Sudanese refugees Anur, Sami, James and Abdalaziz © UNICEF Ethiopia/ 2018/Amanda Westfall
“I am proud of this programme. It will enable me to improve the knowledge of my community.” – James. Sudanese refugees Anur, Sami, James and Abdalaziz © UNICEF Ethiopia/ 2018/Amanda Westfall

“We had a meeting with school principals. We asked them, ‘Why can’t we get training to improve our skills?’ We are stuck in one position. Then we waited,” said Poch.

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, scholarships were created for Poch and others to attend college. This is a key component of Ethiopia’s focus on inclusion and empowerment for refugees as outlined in the Comprehensive Response Framework to “increase enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary education to all qualified refugees without discrimination and within the available resources.” The “full-ride” scholarships include education, room and board, health care, and transport between the refugee camps and the college.

Some 343 refugees are now enrolled in college through the scholarships. The courses are taught in English, and students can study along a variety of tracks from physical education and integrated sciences to math, social science and English.

“Finally, [the opportunity] came and we have a partner to help us continue education,” said Poch.

South Sudanese refugees and current college students, Poch Jackson Petov and Hamid Abdallah Hamad in front of Gilgel-Beles College of Teacher Education. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Amanda Westfall
South Sudanese refugees and current college students, Poch Jackson Petov and Hamid Abdallah Hamad in front of Gilgel-Beles College of Teacher Education. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Amanda Westfall

PROMISING RESULTS

The Education Cannot Wait programme in Ethiopia has already exceeded targets for the number of children reached. Thus far over 82,000 children of the targeted 68,000 have been reached. Girls are often the most vulnerable. Of the targeted 28,000 girls, now over 32,000 have been reached with formal and non-formal education initiatives. Of the 157 classrooms targeted for support with equipment, infrastructure and classroom materials, 73 have been reached thus far, while additional infrastructures are being built.

Sami Balla is another refugee who is receiving training through the programme.

“Now, we can go back with the diploma and say we are teachers and we are professionals! I now have pride to work at the school,” said Sami, who has been a refugee for seven years now.

With their diplomas, Posh, Sami and hundreds more like them will return to the refugee camps to use their new skills to improve the quality of education for their communities. With improved teaching skills, and renewed self-determination, these educators are pioneering a new path for refugees living in Ethiopia – and a bold example for the rest of the world on the value of education.

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Based on the original story by Amanda Westfall.

 

 

THE CHILDREN OF THE LAKE CHAD CRISIS

'Here in Dar es Salam [camp], we have food to eat, we go to school, we play with friends, we feel safe. When I get older, I would like to become a doctor to look after sick people.' - Aisha Mahamadou
‘Here in Dar es Salam [camp], we have food to eat, we go to school, we play with friends, we feel safe. When I get older, I would like to become a doctor to look after sick people.’ – Aisha Mahamadou.
MILLIONS OF BOYS AND GIRLS ARE AT RISK – IN CHAD, WE FIND STORIES OF HOPE AND REDEMPTION ON THE EDGE OF ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST-PRESSING HUMANITARIAN SITUATIONS

The numbers of displaced children, refugee children, and children living without access to education in the Lake Chad Region are staggering. Violence in the region has closed 1,000 schools, and educational opportunities for 3.5 million children are at risk.

To put these astounding numbers into context, 3.5 million is about the number of people that live in Connecticut today, and it’s the total population of Uruguay.

One of those 3.5 million children is Ibrahim Mahamadou. Ibrahim could be your son, or your nephew, or your cousin. Bright-eyed and energetic, Ibrahim is seven now. When he arrived in the Dar es Salam Refugee Camp in Chad, it was the first time he’d ever attended school in his life.

Ibrahim Mahamadou, 7 years old, sitting in a classroom with his friends in a school at the Dar es Salam refugee camp.
Ibrahim Mahamadou, 7 years old, sitting in a classroom with his friends in a school at the Dar es Salam refugee camp.

“I like going to school because I make a lot of friends. We learn how to read, to write and to count. We play and we get lots of presents too,” said Ibrahim.

With support from a broad international coalition and the Government of Chad, Education Cannot Wait, a newly created global fund for education in crisis, has already reached over 150,000 children like Ibrahim in Chad. This includes 69,000 girls. In the neighboring Central African Republic, the Fund has reached some 65,000 children, including 31,802 girls, and a newly announced US$2.5 million grant will reach some 194,000 displaced children in Nigeria, 52 per cent of whom are girls.

“When you look at the scale of this tragedy, we are only scratching the surface. Much more needs to be done if we are going to reduce human suffering and address the root causes of the crisis. Education is an absolute priority and it is the most reliable and sustainable solution to empower a new generation who will be responsible for socio-economic development, peace and stability in the region,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. The Fund is currently helping to facilitate the development of a new multi-year education programme by aid organizations in coordination with the Government of Chad to deliver reliable education for the boys and girls enduring the consequences of the rampant violence in the region.

The Lake Chad crisis – affecting the countries of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – is characterized by ongoing violence, population displacement and loss of livelihood. Forced conscription of child soldiers, abuse and sexual violence, among other atrocities are being reported at alarming rates. Hundreds of thousands of families have fled the violence, drought and the real-and-present risk of famine, across the border to Chad from the Central African Republic, Nigeria and Sudan, leaving millions of children in need of educational support.

HOPE ON THE HORIZON

But in the eye of the storm, there is hope. The Government of Chad has demonstrated a strong willingness to receive refugees and integrate them into the Chadian system, and in the refugee camps, boys and girls are finding safety and security.

Aisha Mahamadou came to the Dar es Salam Refugee camp in January 2015, fleeing a Boko Haram attack on her village near Baga, Nigeria. She was one of the lucky ones, as hundreds of civilians were reportedly killed. Boko Haram is also well known for their practice of capturing girls and forcing them into marriage – essentially a form of modern-day slavery that has people frightened and unwilling to send their girls to school for fear of kidnapping.

“Here in Dar es Salam [camp], we have food to eat, we go to school, we play with friends, we feel safe. When I get older, I would like to become a doctor to look after sick people,” said Aisha.

To support children like Aisha and Ibrahim, Education Cannot Wait worked with Chad’s Ministry of National Education and Civic Promotion and UNICEF, engaging through the UNICEF partnership with international NGOs including Fondazione Acra, the Jesuit Refugee Service and Refugee Education Trust International, to support the delivery of sustainable, equitable and inclusive quality education services for children and youth from within the refugee and host communities.

Through a US$10 million grant, community mobilization activities have taken place and classrooms have been built, boys and girls have received backpacks and school supplies, teachers have been hired and trained, and students have begun attending classes – sometimes for the first time in their life.

“Last year we studied in the tents. When there was too much sandy wind, the teachers used to send us back home. We could not even hear what he said. Now, we study in new classrooms, and we come to school happy,” said 12-year-old Kaka Mahamat, who lives now in the Dar es Salam Camp.

Kaka Mahamat, 12, in the Dar Es Salam Camp.

TRAINING TEACHERS

Over 2,500 teachers have been trained through the programme, and many teachers received subsidies during a prolonged teacher strike to ensure continued education for children like Kaka.

“They killed my son and burned my house in Nigeria. I really have nothing left there. Teaching helps me to take my mind off things. They say Western education is sinful but I believe every child has a right to education especially learning languages, this is what will help them support their communities,” said Malam Sani, who teaches First Grade in the Dar es Salam Camp.

“The Government of Chad, at both the central and decentralized levels, has played a key role in coping with constantly changing realities and protecting the boys and girls that are most at risk,” said Sherif. “As we build on our initial investment and look to more integrated multi-year programming, we will continue our engagement with the community and government to mainstream and accelerate these pilot interventions, addressing both the immediate and long-term needs in the education sector. Only then can we ensure that no child is left behind, but rather at the center and front of our collective efforts.”

Malam Sani,55, teaches the First Grade.
Malam Sani, 55, teaches the First Grade.

ECW announces $2 million for UNRWA in Gaza

Education Cannot Wait has announced critical First Emergency Response funding for UNRWA’s operations in Gaza in 2018, allocating a total of $2,067,518.

Drawing from ECW’s contingency funds, the announcement comes in response to UNRWA’s dire financial situation at the end of 2017 which is threatening school closures and continuity of education for children and young people living in Gaza.

UNRWA is currently facing a shortfall of $8.85 million for education needs in Gaza (out of a total $16 million shortfall in the UNRWA education sector overall).

With ECW’s contribution, UNRWA can prevent 271, 900 students, or 83% of 6-15 years old Palestinian refugee children, from having their education disrupted in the coming 12 months.

In Gaza, UNRWA provides universal access to basic education to the largest number of students of any education service provider. Student numbers in UNRWA schools in Gaza are continuing to increase year-on-year by around 3.4%  which is primarily driven by rapid rates of population growth in the Gaza Strip. 

While ECW seeks to address the current emergency needs to sustain quality education for the next year, it will further galvanise support and drive concerted efforts to find more sustainable solutions to UNRWA’s continuing funding shortage, working with partners across the board to find collective solutions.