CARE: Going to school should not be a luxury
August 11, 2011
As the influx of Somali refugees across the border to Kenya is increasing every day, CARE International draws attention to the lack of sufficient primary education for children living in the refugee camps of Dadaab.
The latest numbers of officially registered refugees issued by the United Nations on August 8, 2011 list 399,346 people currently living in Dadaab, a number that is expected to keep growing. Amongst the total refugee population, approximately 114,000 are children at the age of 5 to 13, and only 38 percent are currently enrolled in school.
CARE is expanding its education program to reach more children and promote quality education on a long-term basis. Typically, in an emergency, donors’ focus is on the provision of life-saving interventions such as water, food and shelter. Education tends to fall under the radar. “Going to school should not be a luxury, especially for the children in Dadaab. On the opposite, this is a powerful way to make their lives safer”, emphasizes Stephen Gwynne-Vaughan, Country Director for CARE International in Kenya. “If children are left idle in the camps, they are most vulnerable to abuse, drugs and other threats.” When attending classes, children do not only learn how to read and write, but also build up their self-confidence by learning about their rights, good hygiene practices and other matters related to life in the camps.
While schools are closed during the month of August, CARE has started an accelerated learning program for newly arrived children, many of whom have never been to school before. In the first two days of the program, 1,100 children were admitted to class and are now getting up to speed to participate in regular school programs after the break. However, once classes resume in September, the schools’ capacity to provide quality primary education for the growing number of children may be an impossible task. “We try to admit as many children as we can”, explains Musa Dahir, CARE’s Education Coordinator in Dadaab, “but when there are 100 pupils per class, ultimately this will compromise quality.”
CARE currently manages five regular schools in Dagahaley camp, reaching more than 15,100 children. Adults from the refugee population are trained as teachers and receive teaching material. Many of those teachers have been living in Dadaab since their early childhood themselves and were educated in the camps before becoming educators themselves.
The world’s largest refugee camp, located in Dadaab, Kenya, has existed since 1992 and is now facing an increasing influx of new arrivals as a result of a severe drought in East Africa. CARE is the lead implementing agency in Dadaab, providing primary education and water, distributing food and offering psychological support and counseling, particularly to women and girls.