Kenya's role as a host country for a significant number of refugees has provided safety and sanctuary to individuals from diverse regions. As of March 2023, refugee populations in Garissa County's Dadaab and Fafi camps reached nearly 250,000, while Turkana County's Kakuma and Kalobeyei camps accommodated nearly 255,000. However, ensuring quality education for refugees in these regions poses notable challenges. Teachers at refugee camps are hampered by limited resources, crowded classrooms, and language barriers. Moreover, untrained refugee teachers face difficulties in accessing higher education or diploma courses in education, impeding their professional growth.
A pioneering partnership between the Orange Knowledge Program (OKP), the University of Nairobi's Faculty of Education, MDF Training and Consultancy, and Vrije University of Amsterdam has sparked transformative initiatives in refugee education. Supported by the Netherlands organization Nuffic, this collaboration has addressed crucial considerations and bridged gaps, resulting in remarkable outcomes.
The partnership's primary focus is to overcome geographical barriers and ensure higher education is accessible to all. Through innovative approaches, the program has made diploma education in "Teaching in Emergency" available to teachers from remote refugee communities and camps. By addressing the lack of prior credentials, enabling distance learning, and providing on-the-ground support, the project caters to the specific needs of refugee teachers.
Recognizing the unique circumstances of refugee teachers, the program has developed a practical curriculum. The "Education in Emergencies" program spans four semesters and is conducted entirely online, with weekly teaching sessions via Zoom. It covers a wide range of topics, including inclusive education, classroom management, instructional methods, curriculum design, and research. Additionally, the program includes modules on psychology, teacher well-being, and socio-emotional learning.
Embracing the digital era, the partnership has adopted online learning platforms such as Google Classroom. This choice offers low bandwidth requirements and easy accessibility for both students and teachers, facilitating distance education for those unable to physically attend classes. Furthermore, the project has introduced psychosocial therapy modules to equip lecturers with the necessary skills to support the emotional well-being of refugee teachers.
In its commitment to inclusivity, the OKP program has awarded 16 scholarships, ensuring diversity and representation. Six scholarships have been granted to female students, while the remaining ten have been distributed among male students, with equal representation from both refugee camps (Dadaab and Kakuma) and host communities.
The project has provided essential resources, such as laptops and learning tables, to teachers and learning hubs in refugee camps. These resources have equipped educators with the necessary tools for effective education delivery and empowered learners to engage in quality education.
Beyond the immediate project, the partnership has advocated for policy changes and aligned with key concepts, including the INEE Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies. Through these efforts, the partnership aims to drive sustainable impact and bring about systemic improvements in refugee education.
The visionary approach of the Orange Knowledge Program, coupled with the expertise and dedication of its partners, has propelled the advancement of refugee education. By fostering inclusivity, leveraging technology, and empowering educators, OKP has opened doors to a brighter future for refugee students. This successful partnership exemplifies the potential of collective action in creating lasting change and improving educational opportunities for those who need them the most.
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