More refugees will be able to finish their high school education after World Vision Ethiopia, UNHCR, local government officials, the Administration for Refugees and Returns Affairs and the Japanese Embassy in Ethiopia officially opened three new blocks of classrooms in Jewi refugee camp in late October.
The high school is located in a refugee camp for 59,000 South Sudanese refugees in Gambella region, where 18% of the refugees are between the ages of 12 to 17.
“Today is a joyous day. My lost hope of education has now thrived. Thanks World Vision, now I am able to continue my education,” says Nyahok Khor Gai, a 19 years old from South Sudan who arrived in Ethiopia in 2015.
World Vision provided Nyahok and other refugee children with school uniform, bags, and other necessary learning materials.
Ethiopia currently hosts more than 883,000 refugees, the second highest amount of refugees hosted in Africa.
At the inauguration event on 19 October, World Vision's National Directors from both Ethiopia and Japan, along with representatives from the UNHCR, the Japanese embassy in Ethiopia and government officials from Gambella region watched South Sudanese refugee students perform songs and poems.
The new classrooms will nearly double the number of children who are able to attend this secondary school, from 381 to 608 students.
“Before World Vision started a secondary school in Jewi camp we were wandering here and there, living an unproductive life. It compensates what we missed, helps us unveil our full potential, and achieve what we aspire towards,” says Matthew, a representative of the refugee students.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, World Vision Ethiopia's National Director Edward Brown said Japan Platform invested more than US$1.8 million to provide access to upper primary school (grades 5 through 8) from August 2014 to September 2016, enabling 7,000 South Sudanese refugee children to benefit from the program.
Japan Platform donated US$220,000 (nearly 6 million birr) for the construction of the school through World Vision Japan. The school consists of 8 classrooms to educate grade 9 and grade 10 students and one block for administrative offices. It also furnished the classrooms with the necessary learning facilities, including two gender-segregated toilets, water facilities and basketball court.
World Vision Japan's National Director Mariko Kinai, on her part, conveyed a motivational message to the refugee children, particularly to girls.
“I encourage you, girls, not to give up whatever the obstacle is. Education can change you and you can change your country. It is through education you can build your nation, develop your country, and bring peace to your country,” she said.
World Vision is committed to ensuring refugee children in Ethiopia are empowered to live productive lives in Ethiopia.
Through 2014 to 2017 World Vision Ethiopia established permanent water supply facilities, sanitation and hygiene facilities, constructed 24 upper primary school classrooms, and hosted 16 literacy boost reading camps benefitting over 60,000 South Sudanese refugee children and their families in Kule refugee camps through funding from Japan Platform, Global Affairs Canada, UNOCHA, and UNICEF.
Further, World Vision is planning to help 800 out of school youth through a acclerated learning programme thanks to a grant from Empowerment of Children and Human Rights Organization (ECHO). The Japan Platform also aims to construct more classrooms, a library and labratory in partnership with World Vision in the months to come.