Windle International in Somalia and Somaliland hosted its first conference for students studying through the UNHCR DAFI scholarship, since taking on the implementation of the programme in January 2021. The programme started with a cohort of 75 students attending universities in Somaliland, Puntland and Mogadishu.

The DAFI student conference was held in two locations – Hargeisa and Mogadishu -that saw over 100 people attending both online and in-person, including 64 students, representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Hargeisa and Mogadishu, Government Ministers, Refugee Commissions, Universities, Community Leaders and Windle alumni.

The DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) scholarship programme contributes to the self-reliance of young refugees. It provides them with skills geared towards future gainful employment, entrepreneurship, postgraduate studies, and other livelihoods. The programme is deeply aligned with Windle’s values, developing the civic, social and leadership skills of students to promote human rights, gender equality, community development and peaceful societies.

The student conference provides a platform for students to share their experience in their different universities, opportunity to network and give feedback regarding the programme.  Advice is also given to the students by the speakers drawn from the institutions of higher learning, government, experts in specific fields and from Windle Alumni.

Khalif Kobane, Country Team Leader for WISOM, said: “Students were able to receive guidance from leading experts and senior individuals, and understand the importance of their role in contributing to the development of their home countries, and countries of asylum.

“Holding the first Windle DAFI events in Mogadishu and Hargeisa was a significant milestone for the programme and for Windle.”

Abdi Karim Mohamed, who attended the event, said: “Its only education that gives hope. It gives you wings to fly and heart to help, and I am lucky to be among the first beneficiaries of the programme.”

Despite hosting refugees, returnees and asylum seekers, Somalia has challenges in transition rate from one level of education to the next. Few children transition from primary to secondary schools with even fewer making it to institutions of higher learning. For refugees, returnees and asylum seekers, opportunities for tertiary levels of study are very limited - even for those who are qualified. This is largely due to poverty and lack of capacity to meet the financial requirements of post-secondary level study, such as fees, subsistence and learning materials. The DAFI programme in Somalia is working to address some of these issues by providing scholarships for students to undertake their education in higher education institutions.