UK donates 155M to vulnerable refugees in Kenya

The funds will support the salaries of teachers in Dadaab, Kakuma, and Kalobeyi. IMAGE/COURTESY

The UK Government has announced Ksh 155 million of new support for the salaries of 1,304 teachers in Kenya who are educating children in refugee-hosting communities.

The funds will support the salaries of teachers in Dadaab, Kakuma, and Kalobeyi.

At a high-level virtual summit hosted on Monday with Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, the UK announced the emergency support to protect the futures of the world’s most vulnerable children both during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

The event was also attended by Kenya’s Acting Director Primary Education, Ms Nereah Olick.

Jane Marriott, the British High Commissioner to Kenya, said: “COVID-19 has presented all our societies with huge challenges, and it’s vital we support those most in need. The UK is proud to help vulnerable refugees in Kenya gain an education, as we build back better after this pandemic.

“I’m delighted that Kenya is part of this programme across 10 countries, and that Kenya was represented at this virtual summit.”

Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, said: “For millions of children and youth, schools are a lifeline of opportunity as well as a shield. Classrooms offer protection — or at least a reprieve — from violence, exploitation and other difficult circumstances.”

“Without urgent practical assistance, some of the children left without schooling worldwide due to the coronavirus may never set foot in a classroom again. We must find ways to try to ensure access to continuity of education for young people across the world. Ensuring education for refugee children is something we can make happen, if we all come together.”

In Dadaab, teachers have been broadcasting programmes on the community radio station, Radio Gargaar, since the lockdown.

Following social distancing and disinfecting protocols, teachers have been conducting lessons, reading stories and sharing health messages.

Bahati Ernestine Hategekimana, a Rwandan-born refugee living in Kenya and currently studying to be a nurse on a UNHCR scholarship, said at the summit: “I am part of the 3% of refugee youth who have access to tertiary education. As a refugee, I needed a skill that would give me control and would put me in a position to be useful and helpful in case there is need, whether it be another war or a pandemic like we have now.

“I see a lot of refugee youth like myself who have been empowered through education to contribute to the response on COVID-19.” For every additional year a child goes to school, their future earnings can increase by 20%. Unleashing that potential, by protecting education through the crisis, will be essential to preventing the collapse of economies in the poorest countries deepening a global recession, making it harder for all of us to bounce back.”

The KES 713 million of UK aid announced will allow UNHCR to make direct payments to 5,669 teachers in 10 refugee-hosting countries for 7 months where urgent support is needed.

The countries are: Chad, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen.