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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Luka

How does education affect children and families living in Kakuma? How do you feel about being a part of that?

Education in the Kakuma Refugee Camp despite some challenges, has been developing and progressing very well in different areas from one year to another since the 1990s up to date.However, in the early days many families didn’t realize the importance of education and the benefits that came along with, but in recent years they have started seeing the importance of taking their children to school and supporting them as well.

One major challenge I don’t want to forget though is the issue of girl-child education in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. In some communities people believe that girls are sources of wealth and that they should be married off to these who will pay a lot of dowry to their families at any tie whether they are in school or not.

Their communities have cultures and beliefs that discourage education for girls but thanks to UNHCR and other implementing agencies in the camp for creating awareness and education the communities on the importance of taking girls to school.

Today, many families are taking their boys and girls to school and support them equally as they move on with their studies/learning. Moreover, the families who children had successfully finished certain levels of education have found jobs and they have taken some family responsibilities which would have not been possible was it not for their education. Others are even working to help their fellow refugees in the camps, while the most successful children the examinations such as SOPE and KSCE [national school exams] has found scholarships for further learning in and outside Kenya.

And for the reasons I have mentioned above, many parents as well as their children have seen the benefits of education. A part from that, the parents now understand how important education is to the future of their children. They also know that the best thing they will carry back to their home countries from Kakuma is education. 

Furthermore, I am excited to be part of this important and constructive effort to help educate the refugee children. These children in the Kakuma Refugee Camp lost their right to education to wars and ethnic conflicts in their home countries but now that they are getting that right being offered to them here in the camp. Becoming part of that makes me feel humbled for having the chance to offer this humane and wonderful service to the children of my fellow refugees.

I will also feel grateful to be part of history in future especially when some of the children we are teaching here in the camp become great people and do some great and wonderful things for their countries and humanity.

In conclusion, I believe that education will turn over a new leaf for the refugee children in the future. 

(Luka also serves as a Peer Coach)