Refugees have the right to access education

Learning for the future

Manmade or natural disasters often deprive children and adults from access to education. When people are displaced for a long time, the lack of access to education reduces significantly their ability to contribute to a prosperous and peaceful future for their communities. That’s why EOTC-DICAC/RRAD choses to include education in its programs.

Education is a basic human right, enshrined in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1951 Refugee Convention. Education protects refugee children and youth from forced recruitment into armed groups, child labour, sexual exploitation and child marriage.

Education is also a key to brighter futures for refugee children and youth – and for all of us. Education is vital to children and youth: It helps them learn skills, build confidence, and think critically. It also improves their chances at earning an income as adults and moving out of poverty.

Our expertise in education

We aim to ensure that all displaced children and youth enjoy quality education that is relevant to their psychosocial, emotional and cognitive development, from the start of emergencies. Displaced children and youth are highly marginalised in accessing quality education.

DICAC provides opportunities for school-aged children (between 4 and 18 years old) and youth (between 15 and 24 years old, in Ethiopia) to complete a full cycle of basic education. We have a particular focus on those who are out of school or have had their education interrupted.

We promote and support the inclusion of IDP and refugee children and youth into formal education systems, so they can benefit from an accredited education that allows them to progress through all levels of the education system.

Our education activities primarily focus on four thematic areas:

  • Secondary education,
  • Primary education,
  • alternative and accelerated education and
  • boarding school

Our experience in education

DICAC-RRAD has been involved in education sector for more than 55 years to support refugee beneficiaries in Ethiopia particularly in Addis Ababa and other Regional state towns including refugee camps. From the long experience of working with government agencies such as Ministry of Education, Woreda Administrative Offices and sub cities, DICAC-RRAD advocate for admission of refugees in `government schools to strengthen their educational opportunities. Following to this good approach and request, the Ministry of Education Minister wrote circular which is standing instruction for eleven (11) Regional Education Bureaus regarding the admission of refugee students in government schools. According to the standing instruction, refugees who fled their country due to force-majeure and other circumstances may not have the chance to properly collect their educational testimonies, should submit application to the regional education bureau mentioning their grade learned in their country of origin and their inability to produce transcripts; then after reviewing the application submitted the regional education bureau shall give exams in all subject based on the Ethiopian curriculum. Refugee students, who passed the placement examination arranged by the regional education bureau, will not be required to present 8th grade national exam certificate to learn grade 9 and 10 in Ethiopia. If refugee students who have started learning at grades lower than grade 8, they are required to produce 8th grade national exam certificate to seat for the Ethiopian General Education Completion exam.

DICAC-RRAD also acquired accreditation to open secondary schools in refugee camps by the respective regional Education Bureaus, where potential secondary school candidates residing in the respective camps. Following that since 1999 secondary schools have been constructed for refugees in different refugee camps; the first refugee secondary school was Dimma, located in the former Dimma refugee camp which is currently under Gambella Education Bureau, Dimma town. DICAC-RRAD is very much known by its academic excellence. Secondary schools that are under the leadership of DICAC-RRAD are applying the Ethiopian secondary school curriculum similar with that of government schools and highly qualified MA degree and first degree holder teachers assigned in each schools to keep the quality of education.

DICAC-RRAD played a significant role and act as a facilitator in communicating with Regional Education Bureaus for preparation and administration of placement examination for refugees; with this facilitation, thousands of refugees who came without valid and credential certificate got benefit from placement exam and joined government schools.

The local host community and refugee representative participation is very high to share experience and knowledge. Stake holders for education sector are very important to strengthen the quality of education; the parent teacher association follow-up the attendance and discipline of students helps to control the deviation, the students’ participation in the school co-curricular activities helps to strengthen the achievement of students and helps them to grasp good knowledge, the teachers’ dedication in providing tutorial class for slow learners and female students help to minimize the gap between the high achievers and low achievers, the school administration significant role in facilitating the school overall activities eventually visible and may bring durable solution for the problems seen in the area.

Urban refugee households have challenges to meet their basic needs with the subsistence allowance they are receiving due the ever increasing prices on food items and house rent. It is very difficult to get a meal twice a day in many refugee households. Refugees are usually forced to look for a cheaper renting house. We have experienced in our day to day activity that these problems creating a direct negative impact on the class attendance of school children and to a decrease in enrollment rate. To this end DICAC/RRAD has long been involved to support the very vulnerable households by mobilizing other resources. In the future DICAC/RRAD has planned to enhance mobilizing different resources to support the very vulnerable refugee households to counteract students’ absenteeism and dropout; and to increase enrollment rate.  

For better service delivery, DICAC/RRAD started to strengthen the participation of the local and the refugee community. DICAC/RRAD has regular meeting with the existing community structures especially of the refugee representatives.

 The refugee community structures have a great role for the ease implementation of the project. The refugee representatives mobilize the community and identify and prioritize community problems and work together with the organization. As of 2017 DICAC/RRAD is closely working with refugee outreach volunteers who are basically formed to support the community in health services. These volunteers are also involved in many other social affairs of the refugee community and brought a new insight in the efficient delivery of many project activities. This will bring a good opportunity for DICAC/RRAD to engage these community structures to increase the enrollment rate of refugee students in its 2021 planning. 

DICAC/RAAD has experienced professional and supporting human resources in each sector. For an efficient and effective implementation of the project, DICAC/RRAD will continue to capacitate its human resource with relevant skills and knowledge with short term trainings.

DICAC-RRAD has good knowledge of inclusion of refugee in the national system. Refugee beneficiaries who have been in the school system are attending the Ethiopian curriculum can have equal knowledge with that of national students and hence refugees can compete equally for the required position. DICAC-RRAD has very good experience in facilitating income generating activities which can help refugees to engage in livelihood activities. Many hundreds of refugee trainees graduated from DICAC-RRAD vocational training programs have been engaged in the income generating actives using the revolving fund secured from donor organization, such as AfP (Act for Peace), Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and GIZ.

Recognizing education as an important segment of humanitarian response, since 1972, Refugee and Returnee Affairs Department (RRAD) as one of its unit with the responsibility of building a better and more dignified future life for youths in pressing humanitarian challenges with an emphasis on ensuring safe access to education for refugee students from grade 1 to 12 in Addis Ababa and in all refugee camps (except Afar region) gave access to secondary from grade 9-12  in close collaboration and partnership with UNHCR (the donor) and ARRA (the government wing) with tri-partite agreement.

Currently active education programs

A. Urban Education Program

  1. In 2020 a total of 803 refugee students 229 from KG, 506 from primary and 68 from secondary are enrolled and supported with educational materials, Uniform and transport allowance.

Figure showing disclosure of school materials to students

B. North secondary education program

Improving quality and practices in secondary education

The objective of this project is to access secondary education to Eritrean refugees living in four camps in Tigray region, Ethiopia (Shimelba, Mai Aini, Adi-Harush (government school), and Hitsats refugee camps) and surrounding host communities. 

We are using our extensive expertise in education to improve refugee children’s and youth’s start in life in Ethiopia.

The schools are organized in the minimum way of the national framework standards. There are qualified teachers and administrators.  The schools’ organizational structures are part of the guidelines of the national ministry of education; and school clubs (such as Mini media and Literature, Environmental, Health, Girls Education, HIV-AIDS and Anti-COVID-19 & SGBV), departments and committees are involving in decision making affairs. EOC-DICAC-RRAD focuses on getting more girls to school and makes sure that they have safe access to water and sanitation and other girls support packages.

Moreover, EOTC-DICAC-RRAD pays attention to psychosocial needs of children and youth who have undergone traumatic experiences. Parts of peace education are life skills trainings in which young children learn how to deal with conflicts.

EOC-DICAC-RRAD builds schools, training teachers, stakeholders and awareness rising among parents. Teachers and school administrators have been trained in school governance, gender –responsive pedagogy, psychosocial support, action research, gender equality etc.   

At least 9,000 secondary school children and youth from 4 secondary schools have so far benefited from the education project in the north refugee operation.

C. Gambella Refugee education program

In Gambella, Refugee and Returnee Affairs Department (RRAD) is providing secondary education for refugees residing in the camp and people around the camp as long as Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia. RRAD employ either one or both of the following approaches to provide secondary education to people in pressing humanitarian situations:

  1. Putting essential physical structures in place where school is not in the radius of 5kms; and
  2. Let refugee pupils’ have access to nearby government school, if any.

DICAC/RRAD provides the services by deploying qualified and experienced teachers; and by providing educational materials such as exercise books, pens and textbooks to students to avoid any enrolment barrier that emanate from the fact that refugees very often loss their economic, productive and financial resources during forceful mass displacement. Besides educational materials, DICAC/RRAD  provides reasonable monthly life-line money (or subsistence allowance) in the course of academic months that refugees use to rent house near to government school where they are studying their education.

At present, DICAC/RRAD is using one government school called Dimma and five DICAC/RRAD constructed/owned schools viz. Pinyudo I, Kule, Jewi, Tierkidi and Nguenyyiel refugee camps secondary schools to provide secondary education. On this account, at mid-2021, 7,871 (6,457M & 1,414F) grade 9 to 12 students are under our auspice. Of all, 146 (43F) are from the host community. Along line; more than 3,000 students are expected to join grade 9 by the coming scholastic year which will begin in September 2021.

Be that as it may, we have baby care centers at four schools with full facilities including mattresses, mats and toys to help lactating students’ attend their education comfortably.

 Having this arrangement in place has significant importance to avoid or minimize girls’ drop out; and alternatively to empower girls. Moreover; our buildings are at least friendly for disable pupils.

In support of quality education as for example, well-equipped Information Communication Technology (ICT) Center, Off-line digital Libraries and Laboratories are in places in three schools: Pinyudo I, Kule and Tierkidi.

Apart from formal education, Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) was our area of intervention and excellence in Gambella – Pinyudo I until it was disrupted because of COVID – 19. In this connection, 2,544 adults have benefited from the project.  

Livelihood was DICAC/RRAD other intervention area at both Neur and Anyuwa Centers (Nuer and Anyuwa are the names of clans) of Pinyudo I refugee camp. The organization has provided livelihood assets such as human capital in the form of skill, seed-capital and capital equipment (with soft loan) with convenient work structure to enable participants engage in certain economic activities to produce income and make/improve their living. Bamboo craft, poetry, leather craft, tailoring and dying and printing are departments we were concerned with until Dec 2018 when our partner suspended the activities due to budget shortfall.. Accordingly, X refugees have benefited from the intervention.    

In the same vein, we are providing secondary education in Assosa at Sherkolle refugee camp (own school) and Tongo, Bambasi/Wemba and Gure-Shambolla government schools. Currently, 1,498 (349F) students are in the system circuit of secondary education we are supporting.

D.Melkadida refugee education program

Melkadida Sub Office Refugee camps currently sheltering more than 162,831 Somalian refugees in five camps, namely; Bokolmayo, Melkadida, Kobe, Helawyni, and Buramino. General insecurity due to protracted conflict between government forces, AMISOM allied forces and Al-Shabaab militias as well as drought were the main causative factors that made many people flee Somalia and cross the border into Ethiopia and then sheltered amongst others in Melkadida Refugee Camps. Those people have lost everything: their homes and social networks, their jobs and incomes, access to health care and education. As a result, children and young people become heavily dependent on the help and services of others to best meet their educational needs.

Given that education is an intrinsic segment of humanitarian response, DICAC- RRAD as education sector led humanitarian actor remains committed to fulfil the educational rift of people in such odd moments more perfectly of Melkadida Area Refugee Camps and host community pupils.

Melkadida is located approximately 900 km from the capital, Addis Ababa, in southern Ethiopia. Bokolmanyo lies 90 km from Dollo Ado, 23 km from Melkadida, 30 km from Kobe, 60 km from Hilaweyn and 70 km from Bur amino.

The DICAC-RRAD Melkadida projects offer young Somali refugees living in the Melkadida refugee camps opportunities to access secondary education with boarding facilities.  Bokolmayo, Kobe, Helawoin, Melkadida and Buramino camps. 

The project was initially set up in Bokolmayo in 2012 and then extended to the other two camps Kobe and Helwoyn in 2013.

The humanitarian aid and psychosocial support we deliver include:

  • Primarily intellectual support (access to secondary education);
  • Physical support (providing learning materials like exercise books, pen, uniform, textbooks, Pencils and drawing materials, sanitary materials  for girls and also cover grade 10 & 12 National Examination Registration and Examination fees to name a few);
  • Emotional support (guidance and counseling services);
  • Moral support (encouraging outstanding students by providing reward and in-kind incentive for girls)
  1. Access to Boarding Facility Service (Provision of accommodation and  Meal  service for PWDs, Vulnerable Students and  Students come from outside of Bokolmayo camp  for  both refugee and host community)

In the course of DICAC-RRAD education project implementation in accessing post primary quality educational service throughout the five camps in Melkadida operation, there is an increase number of enrollments exhibited in the past years. The number of students enrolled has increased from 39 in 2010 to 3002 (Male = 2310 and Female = 692) in 2021, which increases the Gross enrolment rate to 18% out of the total potential secondary school age population.

Students in a Science class

Refugee students in our Library.

Students in a Computer Class

Progressive Secondary Education Enrolment in Melkadida Area

Grade 12 Students who took National Examinations to joint University

As it is indicated in the table, always in every year, our students who stood at the national examinations passed to government universities with astonishing results in the region. 

Why Secondary Education

  1. Tool for protection
  2. Continuum of higher /professional education and improved livelihoods
  3. Motivation for the lower education
  4. Realization of benefits of education

DICAC/RRAD Kobe Senior Secondary School.