Hope for Over-age Learners through UNHCR’s Accelerated Learning Programme
Programmes like the accelerated learning program, which is funded by UNHCR and ECHO, will give an opportunity to over-age learners to have access to basic education.
Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya – The busy Lokituang market in Kakuma 3 opens up to a simple home with 4 semi-permanent structures that make-up a home for a South Sudanese family. Peter Hoth Puot is a 45-year-old South Sudanese refugee from Jonglei State. The tall, soft-spoken and neatly dressed man has just received his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education results and he is a happy man.
Mzee, Swahili for an elder, as he is commonly referred to in his residence in Kakuma – Lokituang area is a father of 7. He fled his home country in the year 2012 after fighting broke out. The memories of the 10 days gruesome journey are still fresh in his mind.
Upon arrival, he enrolled his children in school as he understood the importance of having a basic education. “Before I came to Kakuma I was attending bible school back in South Sudan,” he says. “After enrolling my first born at Al Noor primary school I got curious and wanted to understand what other children who went to school did,” he adds.
UNHCR is committed to ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers have access to basic education.
In 2013 he enrolled himself at Al Noor primary school in class 5. This was the same level that his first born son was. He admits that school has not been easy especially having to sit in class with other kids who are the same age or younger than his son. “The teachers and other students were supportive of me. I was not treated like other children,” says Peter.
The UN Refugee Agency in Kenya, UNHCR, is committed to ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers have access to basic education through its implementing partners the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Windle Trust Kenya.
Kakuma Refugee camp has a total number of 21 Primary schools and 5 secondary schools. These facilities are not enough to cater for the growing refugee population. A total of 63,872 learners are enrolled in the 21 primary school with a teacher to pupil ratio of 1:104 while only 6,179 are enrolled in the 5 available secondary schools.
The number of over-age learners enrolled in both primary and secondary school is on the rise giving the indication that refugees are gradually realizing the benefits of having a basic education. Many of these learners have missed out on schooling in their home countries and are keen to get education; and make up for lost time and opportunity.
This year, to cater for the growing demand, the UNHCR through its partner LWF has rolled out an accelerated learning programme that targets over-age learners enrolled in primary schools. The programme will provide over-age learners with equivalent certified competencies as in the formal system, in an accelerated time-frame, with learners transitioning to mainstream education or completing an entire education cycle.
Programmes like the accelerated learning program will give an opportunity to over-age learners to have access to basic education.
“Programmes like the accelerated learning program, which is funded by UNHCR and ECHO, will give an opportunity to over-age learners to have access to basic education. Currently the programme has enrolled 4,740 (1,559 female) individuals out of the targeted 8,000 individuals,” says Mohamud Hure, UNHCR Education Officer in Kakuma.
Majok Puot, Peters first born son, also sat for the KCPE this year. He scored 279 marks out of the possible 500 marks, just 14 marks higher than his dad. “My dad has beat me several times during internal school exams and this is what motivated me to work harder in school,” says Majok. “He would blame me every time he got more marks than I and challenge me to do better than him,” he adds.
Peter who wants to be a teacher in future is optimistic that he will perform better than his son in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education come 2020, but his dreams might be shuttered alongside many other school going children as only 20% of the 3,982 candidates who sat for 2016 national exams will be enrolled in the 5 secondary schools available in the camp.
The UNHCR Education officer, Mohamud Hure, is optimistic that with support from the international community and donors many refugees and asylum seekers will have access to basic education therefore ensuring a brighter future for them and their home country. “There is a lot more that needs to be done to ensure that more children have access to post primary education and for us to achieve this we need more support,” says Hure.
Before leaving his place Peter had just one request. “I find it hard to comprehend some words,” he says. “If you could get me an oxford dictionary I would be very grateful,” he added.