The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched a $15 million project that aims to construct schools in refugee camps and host communities in Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz regions in Ethiopia.
Part of a $15 million two-year investment in refugee education in Ethiopia by Education Cannot Wait, the project will construct three new inclusive model secondary schools. It will have 41 classrooms in eight secondary schools, and 84 classrooms in four primary schools.
About 12,000 children from refugee camps and the surrounding host communities – half of them girls – are expected to benefit.
“This project represents a significant step in our efforts to provide children in refugee camps and host communities, the opportunity to learn and reach for their fullest potential,” says UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Gillian Mellsop. “Education offers children the best pathway to a better life and no child should to be denied that opportunity regardless of their present circumstances.”
The project will result in 3,600 children being enrolled in secondary school and 8,400 in primary school. The schools are expected to be ready in time for the 2019-2020 academic year. Each new school will be fully equipped with furniture, laboratories, libraries, teachers’ offices, and gender-segregated latrines.
“Ethiopia has a history of generosity in hosting refugees. The international community must play its part and support Ethiopia’s efforts for children and youth uprooted by conflict and violence to fulfill their right to quality education and ensure they can learn and thrive,” says Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.
The project will boost gross enrollment numbers in both regions. Currently, secondary school gross enrollment in host communities in Benishangul-Gumuz is 33 per cent and 66 per cent in the Gambella Region. The numbers are significantly lower among refugees at 8 per cent and 13 per cent in Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambella respectively.
In addition to school construction, Education Cannot Wait is improving the quality of education by providing school improvement grants, teaching and learning materials plus improving the capacity of teachers to deliver quality and inclusive education. These efforts are benefitting both host and refugee communities thereby enhancing the gradual integration of refugee education services into the national education system.
Key project partners include the Ministry of Education, the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs, UNICEF, and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.