SCHOOLS IN REFUGEE AREAS REQUIRE EXPANSION – EDUCATION MINISTER
Schools in areas where refugees are hosted in Uganda need to be expanded to enable both the host communities’ and refugee children access inclusive and quality education, the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni has said.
She said that the big numbers of refugees in the country is becoming a challenge and stressing the ability to cater for children’s education in the refugee areas and this calls for additional classrooms, sanitation facilities, instructional materials and teachers for schools in these areas.
Uganda is host to 1.2 million refugees out of which about 400,000 are school going.
Mrs. Janet Museveni was meeting officials from the Education Commission and Save the Children who called on her at State House Nakasero on Friday to discuss the Learning Generation Lab and Education for refugees’ programmes.
The team included the Chief Adviser Education Commission Caroline Kende-Robb, Chief Executive Officer Save The Children UK Kevin Watkins, Brechtje Vanlith the Country Director Save the Children Uganda and Emma Wagner the Policy and Advocacy Officer Save the Children UK.
Mrs. Museveni welcomed programmes that bring together the refugees with their host communities and emphasized that any programme initiated should be able to benefit the two categories so as to avoid hostility from the host communities and promote peaceful living. “We have to help them live in peace”.
She acknowledged the need to improve teacher training in order to produce qualified personnel able to improve the quality of education especially in early grades. She cited children in UPE schools who mainly comprise of those whose parents are illiterate and require competent teachers who understand that these children solely depend on them to be educated effectively.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports Alex Kakooza said that because the refugees are integrated in the communities the money currently being sent to schools is suppressed since it is shared by many that were not budgeted for and consequently quality is compromised. He pointed out the huge infrastructure challenge plus inadequate capitation grant and teachers for the schools in refugee areas.
The visiting team appreciated Government of Uganda’s welcoming policy for refugees and the refugee response which they described as open and generous. They said Uganda should be proud as a nation.
They said they are working on getting a spotlight on education during the forthcoming Solidarity Summit on Refugees because of the great need of education for refugees.
They also requested the Education Ministry to provide statistics for the infrastructure and teachers shortages in the refugee areas in Uganda at the earliest time possible.
The team also updated the Minister about the Education Commission Learning Generation Lab Workshop recently held in Nairobi for senior government officials and civil society leaders from 12 African countries including Uganda. They were introduced to Learning Generation Lab methodologies and making action plans for improving education in their countries and ensuring every child’s right to an inclusive and quality education.
Other issues talked about include Save the Children’s programmes in Uganda.