The University of British Columbia will soon be offering teacher education programs in the Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya, through a partnership that will increase access to education for resident children and youth.
With $4.5 million in funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), UBC’s Faculty of Education has partnered with York University and three Kenyan institutions – Kenyatta University, Moi University and the African Virtual University – to form the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) project.
“Somali students and teachers hope for peace in their homeland. They also struggle for gender equality,” says Rita Irwin, associate dean of Teacher Education at UBC. “The program is designed to help them improve the overall teaching and learning conditions in the camps while giving extra attention to peace education and girls education.”
With increased access to education, the refugee community hopes students will perform better on Kenyan national exams and will have a better chance of leaving the refugee camp for post-secondary education.
The first refugee camps were established in Dadaab in the early 1990s during the civil war in Somalia. Since then, Dadaab has become the largest refugee complex to the world, providing shelter in a number of camps to more than 460,000 people fleeing conflict throughout East Africa.
Beginning August 2013, the Faculty of Education and Kenya’s Moi University will jointly offer a two-year teacher education diploma program to volunteer secondary school teachers in the camps.
Most Dadaab teachers have only completed secondary school and have no access to higher education. UBC and Moi University professors will be traveling to Dadaab to deliver some courses in person although some of the curriculum could be offered online.
“Dadaab teachers have taken on the responsibility of educating youth growing up in the camps and we want to ensure that they can access the program regardless of any obstacles that might prevent us from getting there,” says Samson Nashon, an associate professor in the Faculty of Education who has helped develop the program.