Uganda launches new Education Response Plan for Africa's biggest refugee crisis
The Government of Uganda, Partners in Development, UN agencies and NGOs including Save the Children, today launch a new Plan that if funded will provide quality education for hundreds of thousands of refugee and host community children in Uganda.
The Education Response Plan (ERP) is the first of its kind worldwide and represents a huge policy step forward for refugee education globally. It sets out exactly how to address a crisis where more than half a million children are out of school. 57% of refugee children in Uganda (at least 353,000) and 34% of local children in refugee-hosting districts (around 171,000) do not have access to education[i].
Uganda hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa, and is one of the top refugee-hosting countries worldwide. The Plan, which was developed within the framework of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) recently adopted by all nation states, confirms Uganda’s leading global role. At country level, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the Ministry of Local Government, with UNHCR playing a catalytic role, coordinates implementation of the Framework[ii].
More refugees continue to arrive daily, with most fleeing from extreme violence in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and other conflict-affected countries. More than 130,000 have arrived this year alone, and at least 61% are children under the age of 18. The influx is putting a severe strain on already limited school resources in local communities. Many classrooms have no walls or electricity and lacking latrines and basic sanitation facilities that are needed to accommodate so many children safely and with dignity. There is also a drastic shortage of teachers and basic materials such as books and desks.
The Hon. Janet K. Museveni, the First Lady of Uganda and Minister of Education and Sports, said:
“This is a children’s crisis. None of these children chose to become a refugee, but they have had their lives ripped apart. Now we must give them the chance of a future.
“Education is hope. It brings a sense of normalcy to their lives ravaged by war and suffering. It protects them and helps them cope with their difficult situation, and builds a foundation from which they can reach their potential. Education is vital if we are to break the vulnerability created by conflict and displacement.
“We are committed to helping these children, but now Uganda needs support to make this Plan a reality. Together we can and must ensure that all children get the opportunity to access inclusive, quality education at all levels.”
The ERP has been developed by the Ministry of Education and Sports, with support from international donors, UN agencies and development organisations in Uganda. The Government of Uganda has been serving as a model example in the international community by granting refugees asylum and access to the same rights as its citizens. However, more support is urgently needed from the international community to ensure the Plan can be implemented.
Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, said:
“Today marks an important milestone in the way that the international community, together with host governments, address the crisis situation of the 75 million children and youth in armed conflict, refugee camps, natural disasters and countries affected by epidemics deprived of their right to a quality education.
Yasmine Sherif, Director for Education Cannot Wait, said:
“Education Cannot Wait is honored to join the Government of Uganda and local and international partners to launch the Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities in Uganda. When Uganda sets a model example of welcoming such significant number of refugees, focusing on their education – it is incumbent on the rest of the world to show the same generosity in supporting Uganda to sustain her shining example.”
The Plan has been developed to align closely with Uganda’s Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) for 2017-2020. It aims to improve access to and quality of learning across all forms of education in Uganda’s 12 refugee-hosting districts, through activities including:
- Constructing new classrooms and repairing existing ones in order to make schools safer and more accessible – for example - so that children with disabilities can attend;
- Providing essential materials such as textbooks, desks and stationery;
- Addressing teacher gaps and capacity to deliver quality education to refugees and host community learners;
- Strengthening the national and district level education system for effective and sustainable service delivery;
- Getting older youth who had dropped out of school back into education, through Accelerated Education Programmes and vocational training; and
- Piloting innovations in education.