Rehema Sango, Martha Korok and Elizabeth Kitulo are three of the over 150,000 people living in the Kakuma refugee camp, one of the largest in the world, located in northern Kenya. There they work as teachers in three of the 26 schools where the camp’s children study.
Rehema, 22, is from Congo and has been in the KaKuma camp for nine years. Martha, 20, comes from South Sudan and has been at the camp since she was four. Elizabeth, 22, arrived in Kakuma nine years ago. Yesterday they landed in Madrid to enjoy, until 14 December, an educational stay at SEK International School El Castillo taught by mentors from University Camilo José Cela.
This has been possible thanks to the scheme launched by Foundation University Camilo José Cela and the Fundación Mujeres por África to bolster the teaching skills of women who teach refugee children from eight nationalities in the Kakuma camp.
This is a pioneering project, allowing people with refugee status to travel to Europe for education for the first time. This project is the culmination of over two year’s work on behalf of both entities and collaboration from UNHCR Spain and UNHCR Kenya, as well as the Spanish embassy in Kenya.
The Kakuma refugee camp has 21 primary and 5 secondary schools, with 96% academic success rates, the highest in the Kenyan county. The current challenge in Kakuma is to increase the enrolment rate in secondary education, which today stands at just 2%.
Work experience at SEK International School El Castillo
In addition to the academic training provided by UCJC, the three teachers will be able to apply their new skills in the classrooms of SEK International School El Castillo to complete their professional development in teaching and education, guided by mentors from UCJC and the school. A theoretical and practical education that allows them, upon their return, to adapt it to their educational context.
Together with their academic and professional training, the teachers will be provided access to support and integration schemes, with financial support for transport, accommodation and maintenance during their stay in Spain and with a psychosocial and emotional monitoring and evaluation plan, given their refugee status.
Undoubtedly, the education received by the teachers will boost the quality of the teaching received by refugee children and the opening of opportunities for the teachers themselves, who, when they arrived, expressed their satisfaction for being part of this scheme.
According to Ignacio Sell, director of Foundation University Camilo José Cela, who yesterday welcomed the three teachers, “there is no better tool for integration than training and education. This new scheme joins our established project in aid of refugees, the Integra Project, we will have the opportunity to empower three women and teachers through training, a crucial factor of Africa’s cultural reality, since they are the engine of society”.
For Ignacio Sell, this project is testament to the values of solidarity, tolerance and respect for cultural, economic and social diversity in which SEK Education Group and University Camilo José Cela aim to train their students.
The president of Women for Africa, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, who visited Kakuma in November 2017 to see for herself the environment for which the project was designed and with which she has been particularly involved, has shown her satisfaction for the arrival of its three teachers. “With this scheme we are going to contribute to raising the quality of education taught in Kakuma, the best we can do for the future of refugee children, and we will do it through three teachers, because women are the best transmitters of knowledge”.