Education is a basic human right. It fosters human development, and provides not only knowledge but hope that a brighter future is possible.

For communities affected by conflict, this is particularly important. For children and young people who are refugees and from the communities that host them, education is a means of protection against forced recruitment into armed groups, child labour, sexual exploitation and child marriage. It strengthens community resilience, and empowers communities affected by conflict by giving them the knowledge and skills to live productive, fulfilling and independent lives. However, the reality is that for many, the quality of education they receive is woefully inadequate.

Providing education in refugee camps and settlements in Eastern Africa can be challenging. Our experience is that whilst there is a huge commitment from stakeholders to deliver quality education, issues such as overcrowding, lack of resources and, crucially, a lack of trained teachers are very real issues that desperately need addressing. Some areas are particularly vulnerable to militant groups and ongoing conflict. While these challenges have always been present, the current global Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated them. 

Our programmes seek to overcome some of these challenges and ensure that students receive a quality education, giving them the best possible chance to succeed. We do this by focusing on several key areas, such as:

Teacher Training

Our experience is that most of the teachers in refugee camps in Kenya and settlements in Uganda have little training beyond the completion of secondary school. They are often referred to as classroom assistants (CAs) or Incentive Workers (IWs), and yet they are responsible for directly delivering education to children and young people. In South Sudan only 20% of teachers have formal training.

In some countries in which we work, women are underrepresented within the teaching profession. For example, in South Sudan only 14% of teachers are women, and whilst the barriers for women entering teaching are many and complex, the result is that women miss out on educational and career opportunities, girls lack female role models to inspire them, and both boys and girls miss out when women’s views and contributions are not represented.

The lack of training and female representation are compounded by the fact that whilst English is the official language of instruction in the countries in which we work, the majority of untrained teachers are not fluent speakers. Across Windle members, our interventions seek to address issues like these through a range of projects and programmes.

Arnold Nimuhamya (pictured right) is a teacher at Kakoni Primary School in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement, Uganda. After it became clear that he and a number of other newly-appointed teachers were struggling with delivering some elements of the curriculum sufficiently, Windle International Uganda secured funding from partners Education Cannot Wait to offer training. The partnership has seen 277 teachers being trained to date in pedagogy, psycho-social and thematic teaching skills which are passed on to children.

Managing schools

One of our biggest areas of activity in Kenya and Uganda, we manage the strategic and day-to-day running of pre-primary, primary and secondary schools in refugee camps and settlements. This involves recruiting and employing teachers, making sure there are access to materials like  textbooks, exercise books, IT equipment, and stationery; building physical classrooms, teacher accommodation, and safe latrines; and making sure that classrooms are accessible for those with special access requirements.