LWF to Assess Secondary School Program Needs
ALI ADDEH, Djibouti/GENEVA, 19 June 2012 (LWI) –Shafi Abdu Lahi, a 15-year-old grade eight pupil at the Ali-Addeh refugee camp in Djibouti, recently concluded his final exams. Education has been very good, says the young Somali refugee, but there are no prospects for studying beyond primary school.
Alongside thousands of refugees, he awaits relocation to Holl-Holl camp, which was closed down in 2006 following repatriation of refugees to Somaliland. Since mid-2011, drought and insecurity increased the influx of Somalis into neighboring countries including Djibouti. By 11 June, Djibouti was hosting 16,449 refugees from Somalia according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Nearly all of them reside at the Ali-Addeh camp, which was designed to accommodate a maximum of 7,000 people.
Lahi is just one of the 83 pupils who completed their final grade eight exams and are not sure of the next step in their education life. They could cross over to neighboring Ethiopia to pursue secondary education there but this option is too costly.
As a result, he will just add to the number of youths already idling in the camp. As he said, “Some [former] students they grazing [sic], they eat khat [a local stimulant drug plant]. They clean the ways [street] in Djibouti because they don’t have any high school [education].”
“We are young students; we need to continue our education because education is life, our life is dependent on education,” Lahi added.
He says his dream of becoming a business entrepreneur is hampered by the lack of a secondary school in the camp. “If you don’t have any education, you will not achieve your goals, your objectives.”
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has been involved in the provision of education at Ali-Addeh since 2009. For a long time, education provided in this refugee camp has been limited to the primary school level, without any secondary system or vocational training programs. Currently there is only one primary school program hosting 1,573 pupils, and four pre-schools with 987 pupils.
This has been partly as a result of the difference in the national languages of the host country (French-speaking) and the refugees’ country of origin (Somali-speaking). However, the LWF will assess the needs for secondary education or vocational training system in September, according to Robai Naliaka, project coordinator for the LWF Department for World Service (DWS) program in Djibouti.
Children with Disabilities
Recently, the LWF constructed four kindergarten classrooms for children aged three to six who had previously been studying in tents. “Due to the hot temperatures, the tents at times would become stuffy and because of poor ventilation this led to fainting by some of the pupils,” says Feqede Moreda, LWF child protection assistant at the camp.
In addition, the lack of a school feeding program means most youngsters miss out on education, as they are sent out by their parents to beg for money and food in Djibouti city, adds Moreda.
The system does not allow for children with disabilities adequately to benefit from education.
“Pupils with disabilities are not able to enroll in the camp school because the teachers do not have the capacity to assist them and [these] children also lack wheelchairs to move over the rugged terrain of Ali-Addeh from their homes to the school,” adds Mustapha Warssama, the school’s headmaster.
Aweis Mohamed Ahmed, one of those selected for relocation to Holl-Holl camp, is optimistic that he will continue with his work as a teacher in the new camp. However, he acknowledges that, even in the new camp, the education system will only cater to primary education.
Still, given the large number of children enrolling for kindergarten, there is a need to have more classrooms in the primary school to accommodate the pupils once they graduate from the pre-school. Paul Lagat, LWF quality assurance and standards officer, explains that the current average number of students per class in the primary school is 71, far above the acceptable standard. In addition, some of the classrooms are too small.
“Due to the influx of Somali refugees and the closure of the Holl-Holl camp in 2006, the camp [Ali-Addeh] has overstretched its capacity and hence the need for re-opening [Holl-Holl],” says UNHCR field officer, Dr Rafou Makou.
The new camp set to be opened near the old Holl-Holl site in mid-September is expected to hold more than 3,500 Somalis who have arrived so far this year. The UNHCR notes that the influx of refugees is straining already limited resources, and much work needs to be done to care for the increasing numbers.
The LWF Djibouti program began in 2009 as part of the Kenya program, and includes livelihood support to refugees through small grants for income-generating activities. (802 words)
(By LWF/DWS Djibouti staff)