The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and education partners have concluded the selection process that will enable 24 refugee students from Kakuma (8 females) out of the 275 applicants access higher education in the Kenyan Universities through DAFI scholarship.
Ukech Daniel, from South Sudan, is one of this year’s DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund) scholarship recipients. He arrived in Kakuma when he was only two years old and has diligently gone through the Kenyan Education Curriculum.
At the completion of his primary school education in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County, he enrolled for post primary education at Kakuma Refugee Secondary School; one of the 5 Secondary Schools run by UNHCR through its partner, Windle Trust Kenya.
‘Higher education access for the growing number of secondary school leavers remains minimal with less than one (1) percent of eligible youth in the camp benefiting.’
“I started my schooling outside the refugee camp. However, my father was unable to afford secondary education outside of the camp so I came back to the camp and was enrolled at Kakuma Refugee Secondary School where education is free.” Says Ukech.
Many refugees who qualify to transit to secondary school are left out every year due to insufficient secondary school facilities. The few that secure slots in the 5 available secondary schools walk long distances, and make do with limited learning resources to compete with other Kenyan schools in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).
Despite these challenges, refugees like Ukech have discovered the importance of having a good education.
Ukech says, “When I got to form three I made a conscious decision to spend more time in school which was the only conducive environment I could find to study. Life was hard but that did not discourage me from working hard because I had purposed to pursue computer engineering.”
Mohamud Hure, UNHCR Assistant Education Officer in Kakuma says, “Higher education access for the growing number of secondary school leavers remains minimal with less than one (1) percent of eligible youth in the camp benefiting. Such limited opportunities can have a devastating impact on student motivation to enroll and complete lower levels of schooling.”
In 2014, Ukech sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam and scored a mean grade of B- (minus) which, in a non-refugee context, would have earned him a place at one of the Kenyan Universities. However, due to lack of resources to pursue higher learning in the local universities, he opted to apply for the limited scholarship and training opportunities for refugees in Kakuma.
Every year, over 1000 refugees sit for the Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education examinations in Kakuma operation. UNHCR’s higher education scholarship programme, best known by its acronym DAFI, plays an integral role in enabling refugees worldwide to access higher education. In Kenya, 485 refugees have been assisted since 2005 to access tertiary education through DAFI scholarship programmes.
Hure adds, “Apart from the DAFI scholarships, other tertiary level include WUSC (World University Service of Canada) and a number on-site scholarship programmes and connected learning programmes offered by local and international universities that provide access for around 300 students annually.”