This July, Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) saw its first cohort of students achieve teaching diplomas and in September a first cohort of students will join degree programmes at two Kenyan universities and one Canadian university, but studying from the confines of their camp.
For many refugees, talk of going to university is a distant or impossible dream. In the world’s largest refugee camp complex, at Dadaab in eastern Kenya, established in 1991, less than 2% of the university age population has access to higher education.
For years a lack of trained teachers fuelled the hopelessness of the situation, keeping many children out of school in Dadaab’s camps.
Now a drastic government decision to disband the camp of 340,000 or more refugees and repatriate the vast majority back to Somalia, a country where security problems are rife, has presented an additional challenge.
It is a bittersweet moment for an innovative project run by BHER – Borderless Higher Education for Refugees – which has been pioneering ways to address the chronic education deficit in the camps of Dadaab.
This July, the first cohort of students achieved teaching diplomas and in September a first cohort of students will join degree programmes at two Kenyan universities and one Canadian university, but studying from the confines of their camp.
Now it is wrestling with the question of how to help students progress through a three-stage pathway, from a teaching certificate programme, to a teaching diploma and ultimately a recognised degree programme even if they are forced to relocate to another, far less secure country.