Education of refugees in Uganda: relationships between setting and access

This research seeks to explore the education of refugee children in Uganda. Specifically, it addresses the multiple ways in which refugees access education and the social effects of the differing forms of education on the creation of stability for refugee children. Conditions in Uganda have allowed the development of four distinct arenas in which the primary education of refugee children is taking place.

The research findings suggest that access to education for refugees is largely determined by the setting in which the refugee lives. Access is interpreted broadly and includes not only the number and percentage of children enrolled in school but also the ability for a refugee child to access – or benefit from – the education once he or she is in the classroom. Over the course of this paper, factors affecting the access of refugee children to education are identified and evaluated. First, the financial costs of education, especially in urban areas, limit the number of refugees who can go to school. Second, the lack of qualified teachers, particularly in rural settings, impinges on the quality of education available to refugees. Third, English as a language of instruction means that refugee children must repeat classes, and they are often old socially for the level of education to which they find themselves limited by language. Fourth, immense social stability is created for refugee children in situations where there is integration of refugee and national pupils, as the context of displacement is somewhat normalised. Finally, this study examines the need for increased co-ordination of services between UNHCR, its implementing partners, and district education officials in order to improve overall access to education for refugee children in Uganda.

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