Djibouti – Supporting education and protection programs for refugee children

by Michael Hyden, LWF Program Officer (LWF World Service Geneva) for LWF Kenya/Djibouti program

14th February 2012

Refugee Children in Ali Addeh Camp, Djibouti © LWF/Bobby Waddell

Education and Protection Program for Refugee Children in Djibouti

I have just returned from a field visit to the LWF Kenya/Djibouti program, where LWF Djibouti program is providing much needed pre-school and primary education to 2,000 plus Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean refugees in Ali Addeh camp. Speaking to the refugees in the LWF/UNHCR run schools, it is clear that education is one of their highest priorities for the refugee community.

The schools symbolicly sit in the middle of the camp next to the food distribution and health center run by the other agencies. Yet there is evidence on the ground that we still have a long ways to go in assisting UNHCR and the Government of Djibouti to guarantee the right to education for these refugee children and young people. The lack of high quality and protective education for refugees stands in the way of meeting Education for All goals, and of achieving one of UNHCRs objectives of durable soluations, and of sustainable development.

Existing Primary School in Ali Addeh Camp - conditions are cramped with 70-100 children per classroom © LWF/Melany Markham

The access to education for the refugees in LWF Kenya and Djibouti operations are limited and uneven across the region be it in our sister programs in Kenya in the Kakuma & Dadaab camps as well, particularly for girls and at secondary levels.

Enrollment in primary school in Ali Addeh in Djibouti is at 60-70 % and drops dramatically to 3% to secondary school which currently does not exist in the camp. The refugee education in the camp is generally of a low quality, with ineffective indicators that measure inputs rather than outcomes.

The Teacher pupil ratios in Ali Addeh are at 1:70 and, many teachers we spoke to say that they do not have even ten days of training that would categorise them as “trained” certified teachers.

This year, 2012, the LWF Staff in Djibouti are embarking on a program of “quality” and “accountablity” in the education program striving to focus on serving its protective function. Additional funding support from our related agencies Church of Sweden, Finn Church Aid, the German National Committee of the LWF, and Diakonia Katastrophenhilfe, is filling in much needed gaps to supplement the UNHCR funding which the LWF Djibouti program is currently receiving annually.

6 pre schools are being constructed in Ali Addeh camp © LWF Djibouti

Temporary pre school classrooms are being used while more permanent classrooms are constructed © LWF Djibouti

The LWF with our related agencies is therefore assisting UNHCR & UNICEF in Djibouti to meet its mandate to provide high quality and protective refugee education with both human, technical and financial resources.

Some of these activities include:

  • Integation of refugees into the Kenya and Djibouti education systems,
  • Investment in teacher training that cultivates high quality skills related to both pedagogy and content,
  • That leads towards a basic qualification for the refugee teachers,
  • And improving the conditions of the schools by building climatically friendly class rooms with the introduction of solar powered lighting and fans.

This year the program will be undertaking a feasibilty study in order to include secondary education which currently is non existent in the camp. Finally, LWF Djibouti is also engaged in income generation for the refugees in the camp.

Thank you to all our partners who support the education and protection programs for refugee children in Djibouti.

Michael Hyden

LWF Progam Officer – LWF Kenya/Djibouti program

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