This month the U.N. refugee agency released a report with extra significance for the work of the Darfur Dream Team. UNHCR’s “A Global Review on Refugee Education” outlines the importance of education for refugees and the challenges UNHCR faces in providing quality education.
Access to education is a basic human right, and as the report notes, is seen by refugees around the world as the “key to the future.” Anecdotally, UNHCR seeks to prioritize education, but the report notes that the agency faces an uphill battle. With only 4 percent of their budget allocated to education, the UNHCR lacks the financial and technical capacity to provide a quality education to all refugees. Most notably this is seen in high student to teacher ratios (1:70), a lack of trained teachers, and low enrollment levels for girls.
The report outlined the UNHCR’s “Agenda for Change,” focused on “promoting high quality and protective education for refugees.” This includes providing post-primary education for all refugees, with an emphasis on increasing the enrollment of girls, increasing investment in teacher training programs, and developing new standards and indicators to measure academic achievement among refugee students. The report also calls for an increase in the human and financial resources that UNHCR dedicates to education. With only two education officers, the agenda aims to hire an education officer for each country and to find new implementing partners with technical capacity in education.
Understanding the importance of education and the specific challenges associated with providing education for refugees, the Darfur Dream Team works to increase the quality of education in Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad. In our visits to the camps, the Darfur Dream Team has noticed many of the same challenges and problems highlighted by this report. The funds that we raise, thanks to our participating U.S. Sister Schools, go directly to providing teacher trainings, buying books and other materials, rehabilitating classrooms, and increasing student enrollment. The Darfur Dream Team and our U.S. Sister Schools are committed to working with UNHCR to make the dream of a quality education a reality for Darfuri refugees.
Learn more about how Darfur Dream Team is working to address the challenges highlighted in UNHCR’s report. Our Program Assistant Meghan Higginbotham is on her way to the Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad, so follow her trip over the next couple of weeks.
Photo: A teacher in a school for Darfuri refugees (Darfur Dream Team)