Over 300 girls at the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement in Northern Kenya are set to have a better classroom experience with construction of a boarding school.
The project which will result in 360 girls being enrolled in secondary school, is expected to boost gross enrollment numbers. At present, nearly half of school-aged children are out of school in the Turkana County region, where the settlement is located. Female students constitute only 24.5 percent of the overall enrollment.
While there are 26 primary schools in the region, only seven secondary schools are available in Kakuma camp and Kalobeyei Settlement, supporting learning for 13,000 students. One of the secondary schools is a girl’s boarding school situated in Kakuma. The Kalobeyei Settlement has only one non-boarding school for girls.
In 2019, over 400 girls applied for a place at this school but only 90 could be accommodated due to space constraints. Demand is projected to grow rapidly in 2020 and beyond.
The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian organization launched the project to construct a girls’ boarding secondary school thanks to funding by a $1M grant from the NGO, Sharjah Charity House. The fully equipped boarding school is expected to be ready in time for the 2021 academic year will benefit 360 girl students, which will include refugees in the settlement as well as girls from the surrounding host community. The project is expected to help meet the educational needs of the community’s girl-child, as Kalobeyei settlement currently has only one non-boarding secondary- school for girls.
The TBHF school, is expected to fulfill students’ needs to a large extent, while offering a safe learning environment for refugee and host community girls facing risks such as early or forced marriage and child labor, as well as unaccompanied minors, separated children and disabled girls. The school will be fully equipped with furniture, laboratories, libraries, teachers’ offices, dormitories and washrooms.
Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “This project represents a significant step in TBHF’s efforts to provide children in refugee camps and host communities, the opportunity to learn and reach for their fullest potential. Education offers children the best pathway to a better life, and no child should be denied that opportunity regardless of their present circumstances.”
Hammadi emphasized that with the increasing influx of refugees into the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement and the Kakuma refugee camp, it was critical to ensure access to education for refugee children as well as children in the host community, in order to safeguard their and their nation’s future.
She added, “The inclusion of refugees in the education system requires strong partnerships and a significant investment of time and resources to support the children and youth to succeed, and we are thankful to Sharjah Charity House for their timely and generous donation that made this project. These investments will pay rich dividends for refugees, their host communities and the wider region.”
HE Sultan Al Khayyal, Secretary-General of Sharjah Charity House said: “Education is a key driving force for human and community development; and this project reaffirms the enduring value of learning and knowledge as powerful foundations of life for individuals everywhere.”
TBHF was officially established in 2015 following a range of humanitarian initiatives and campaigns launched since 2008 by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of TBHF, to redouble efforts to help refugees and people in need worldwide. The organisation continues its humanitarian efforts, having delivered emergency aid to more than 20 nations worldwide facing crises, along with supporting long-term and sustainable projects in healthcare, education and other vital sectors