Nakivale Refugee Settlement Faces Challenges in Keeping Children in School

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Nakivale Refugee Settlement Faces Challenges in Keeping Children in School
A mother and her school going- child digging

Schools in Nakivale refugee settlement, Uganda, are witnessing low student attendance despite the first term underway. Nakivale Primary School, with over 3,000 students, and Nakivale Secondary School, with over 1,500, have seen less than half their enrolled students return.

Reasons for Low Attendance:

  • Poverty and Hunger: Headteachers attribute low attendance to factors like poverty, hindering families' ability to afford school supplies and necessities like food.
  • Language Barrier: Many refugee families, especially new arrivals from French-speaking DRC, struggle with the language barrier, posing an additional challenge for their children in school.
  • Delayed "Return to Learning" Campaign: School heads believe a more proactive approach with the "Return to Learning" campaign, starting earlier than three weeks before school reopens, could lead to better results.

Efforts to Address the Issue:

  • Humanitarian Efforts: Organizations like the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) are implementing programs like "Return to Learning" and "Cash for Education" to address challenges and encourage school attendance.
  • Community Sensitization: NRC and facilitators like Habimana Jeremy work with communities to raise awareness about the importance of education and address concerns like language barriers.

Challenges Remain:

Despite ongoing efforts, significant challenges persist:

  • Food Shortages: Recent WFP budget cuts have exacerbated hunger among refugees, impacting school attendance.
  • School Fees Debate: The ongoing debate surrounding school fees creates uncertainty for parents.

Hope for the Future:

The "Return to Learning" program has seen some success, with over 200 students returning to school and 93 new enrollments, including new arrivals. Parents in the settlement are hopeful for increased funding for education in refugee settlements.

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