Refugees innovate new school model in Daadab, Kakuma

By Kihu Irimu

Even as they face repatriation Kakuma and Dadaab refugee communities are transiting to a new school model that has helped them double student intake without additional strain on teachers, furniture and classroom space.

Vision Secondary School in Kakuma and Waberi and Hagadera Secondary Schools in Dadaab have already adapted the model described as ‘breakthrough’ because it gives marginalized children opportunity to attend school without burdening parents with costs and hustles of putting up new buildings.

Dubbed ‘Two-in-One’, the model entails running two independent schools within premises and facilities meant for one. One school reports in the morning while the other comes in the afternoon. Each school hires its own set of teachers and other personnel an actiity going on as the government of Kenya plans to close Daadab refuggee camp, the home of over 400,000 stateless people following concerns that terrorists have infiltrated the camp.

The model which attests to the creativity inherent in collective actioncamein the wake of a crisis to Form One admission following improved performance in KCPE 2015 and increased enrolment which saw over 2,700 qualified KCPE leavers missing admission to Form One in Kakuma and Dadaab.   ‘The crisis left the Refugee parents with no alternative but to run two schools in one,’ says Hagadera Secondary School PTA chair Mohamed Yusuf.

Unlike the multi shift system which doubles the number of students but over-burdens teachers, UNHCR financed the implementation of ‘Two-in-One’in Kakuma and Dadaab including hiring new set of teachers and other personnel for each school – Vision Secondary Schools A and B, Waberi and Hagadera secondary.

The first school reports at 6.30 am and until 12.30 when students and teachers vacate the premises giving room to students, teachers and support staff of the other school which runs from 12.30 to 6.30pm.

Mooted by Windle Trust Kenya, an NGO that manages education in the Refugee camps and supported by UNHCR,the model has been positively received with enthusiasm.Vision Secondary School A and Vision Secondary School B communities introducing different uniforms, programs, examinationsand hiring deputy principal for each school.

The model implemented under supervision of the Ministry of Education maintains the prescribed student – teacher contact duration by allocating five hour curriculum instruction and two co curricular engagements during every single school under teacher: student ratio of 1:40.

The Education Officer in Hagadera ,Jennifer Katiwa, says the model has benefited many ‘learners who also have to find time to work as watchmen, bodaboda riders and hawkers given their precarious financial situation’. ‘It is the only option the communities have, given there are 21 primary schools in Kakuma and only five secondary schools’, she says adding that the communities lack land or money to put up new school.

Dr. Marangu Njogu, one of the Lead Promoters of the system, says …“apart from increased school admission capacity, the model’s greatest achievement is that it triggered and sustained conversation on time management.”

 ‘Time is a resource given to all humanity in equal  amount of 24 hours a day in which Africa enjoys 12 hours of daylight,’ he says pointing out that the refugee community who lacked money, land as well as corporate and individual philanthropy innovatively singled out time as a resource to maximize onto beat the form one admission crisis.

‘We have admitted 967 Students in form one while we would only have admitted 504,had we remained one School. We will increase the number to 1,004 in second and third terms,’ says George Nandy the Chief Principal of Vision Secondary School A and B.

Joel Ndingi,one of the Program Managers in Windle Trust Kenya says, “In Kakuma, a total of 2,394(518 Female) students were enrolled in Form One in the camp,which represents 60 per cent rise,enabled by the Two-in-One model”.Hagadera and Waberi secondary schools in Dadaab also reported over 50 per cent rise in school population, with 42 per cent increase in the number of girls, which the UNHCR Community Services Officer Katie Ogwang’ lauds noting  that most Refugees are desperate to get education ‘especially Kenyan Education’.

Nandy says teachers have enough time to attend to their personal interests ‘therefore fewer excuses for absenteeism’. Students say the system allows them plenty of hours to do homework after school. ‘It creates a sense of urgency in dealing with school work’, noted a student. ‘Remaining in school the whole day creates room for me to keep  postponing and delaying action because the tendency is to perceive the day as timeless,’ adds the student.

Girls also are able to attend school without disruption because they have an entire morning or afternoon they could allocate for household chores, according to teachers.

Link Refugees innovate new school model in Daadab, Kakuma