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Education and protection for refugee children

Plan International Uganda is working alongside the European Union Humanitarian Aid and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to help refugee children from South Sudan access a safe, quality education.

South Sudanese refugee children in Northern Uganda access education in a safe and protected environment
Refugee children learning in a safe environment in North Uganda.

Plan International Uganda has been responding to the influx of South Sudanese refugees crossing into the country since 2013. The majority of those affected by this insurgency are children from 0-17 years.

With an investment of € 604,272 from European Union Humanitarian Aid and SIDA, the action named Promoting Education, Protection and Peace for South Sudan (PEPPS) Refugee boys and Girls in Adjumani district, Uganda aims to increase children’s access to education in a safe and protected learning environment for 14,400 South Sudanese refugee girls, boys and young people in six targeted settlements and six host communities in the district of Adjumani.

The main objectives of the action: Promoting Education, Protection and Peace for South Sudan Refugee boys and Girls

  1. To increase access to education for 8700 boys, girls and youth living in the six targeted settlements and host communities by 2016.
  2. To improve quality of learning for 8700 refugees and host community girls and boys through strengthened capacity of key stakeholders.
  3. To increase capacity of 5388 girls, boys and community members to actively contribute to protection, resilience and peaceful co-existence in targeted refugee and host communities.

To meet the above objectives, Plan International Uganda is implementing activities under child protection and education thematic areas as follows:

Working with existing community structures to protect children

Under the thematic area of child protection, Plan International Uganda is working with community child protection structures to raise awareness, identification, reporting of child protection cases, peaceful co-existence and resilience.

As part of the child protection mechanisms, we have to date set up 11 Child Friendly spaces (CFSs) in the six settlements of Ayilo I& II, Baratuku, Nyumanzi and Maaji. The spaces are used to address child protection and psychosocial needs of children who are susceptible to sexual abuse, separated from their families, trafficked, exposed to physical violence and being armed or forced into army .Over 4992 (3257 boys & 1735 girls)  children are already benefiting from these Child Friendly Spaces.

Everyday children in Adjumani resettlements converge  at child friendly spaces managed by Plan international Uganda for recreational activities
Everyday children in Adjumani resettlements converge at child friendly spaces managed by Plan international Uganda for recreational activities

The CFSs bring together children in the age range of 3 and 17 years every afternoon (from the settlement areas where integral services are offered) under the supervision of trained animators (adults).

Well-structured activities including play, recreation, learning, awareness creation, cultural dialogues and discussions are conducted at the CFS(s). The Child Friendly Spaces also present a platform for children to express and broadly share their experiences. The CFS activities build the capacity of children to respond to their protection needs, stabilise their emotions, and divert them from, trauma, emotional pain, depression and psychological distress.

 Child protection mechanisms put in place:

  •  44 animators trained  to oversee the CFS activities.
  • Established and supported 15 Child Protection Committees with  144 members
  • Established 10 peer support groups/clubs  with  250 members
  • Established10 school clubs with 250 members
  • Formed 10 parent support groups with 200 members

The Child Friendly Spaces are also utilised by adults to hold community dialogues and discussions in a bid to promote peace and harmony among different cultural groups, and to build their capacity to respond to their needs.

Parents Support Groups are part of the child protection mechanisms used to ensure children's safety in Adjumani Refugee camps
Parents Support Groups are part of the child protection mechanisms used to ensure children's safety in Adjumani Refugee camps

As a result of our child protection programme, we have registered reduced cases of child abuse, fighting amongst children, and conflict amongst parents among others.

Beneficiaries speak up

 “I come from Upper Nile State in South Sudan. My children were so much traumatised and not interested in anything. However, when they started to interact with other children and even got psychosocial support, they are feeling much better. I’m happy that they also speak some English,” said Luchia, 26, mother of three living in the Ayilo II Settlement.

“I come here in the evenings to play volleyball and meet my friends. I like it because, we learn to socialise and this also helps us not to discriminate each other,” Martha, 16, Ayillo II Settlement.

“We have many children who are unaccompanied. They have no parent, sibling or relatives. As an adult I feel, it is my responsibility to volunteer and help such children enjoy their rights,” Emanuel Agueng, one of the 44 animators in the 11 CFS’.

“Our role is to protect children from all forms of harm including beatings from some parents. We also make sure children go to school, follow up on those who are absent and take care of children without parents,” Betty, Child Protection Committee member, Ayilo II Settlement.

Supporting children to realise their right to education in the resettlements

Plan International Uganda is commitment to increase children’s access to education in a safe and protected learning environment.  

Under the same funding of € 604,272 from European Union Humanitarian Aid and the Swedish Government through Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Plan International Uganda is reaching out to 4189 children (2064 girls; 2125 boys) with basic numeracy, reading, singing, playing at the 15 Early Childhood Care and Development ( ECCD)  centres for the 0-6 year olds.

 ”Plan International Uganda is commitment to increase children’s access to education in a safe and protected learning environment.  Our unique ECCD model supports children to have a healthy start in life, acquire early stimulation, improved social skills and readiness for school (smooth transition to primary schools).” Says Rashid Javed; Country Director of Plan International Uganda 

The ECCD centres which have been certified by the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science, Technology and Sports begin their activities at 8.00am and end at 11.00am.

Under Early Childhood Care and Development programme, Plan International Uganda is using the Community Led Action for Children (CLAC) model which ensures that the vulnerable children get effective early childhood care and support to develop, enroll in primary school on time, stay and learn. This approach has resulted into holistic child development with the support of parents and the community. .

To ensure that children enjoy the learning sessions, Plan International has developed a total of 27 story books for early grade reading.

Parents start the school feeding programme to keep children in class

Through the parents support group sessions, community sensitisations and dialogues, parents now appreciate the significance of contributing towards a school feeding programme.  Already some ECCD centres have started providing porridge to children at break time, a development that has significantly improved children’s concentration during classes and active participation in social, physical, cognitive activities and staying longer than before at the ECCD centers. So far, 1457 children from these centres are benefiting from the feeding programme. “We have been able to achieve this through educating parents and facilitating collective action at different levels.” Say Rashid .Efforts are underway through community sensitisations, dialogues, parenting sessions and refugee leaders’ meetings to replicate the practice in other centres.

Working with parents, plan International Uganda has started a school feeding programme for children in Adjumani refugee camps
Feeding of children has improved their concentration during classes and active participation in social, physical, cognitive activities and staying longer at the learning centres

As part of programming, ECCD centres host parent sessions to discuss and learn about issues related to their children’s well-being. A total of 492 mothers and 23 fathers have been trained in parenting skills (early childhood development and child protection) in Ayilo II, Baratuku and Nyumanzi settlements.

Other highlights of the education programme:

Plan International Uganda has constructed permanent structures for condusive learning environment for children
Plan International Uganda has constructed permanent structures for condusive learning environment of children in Adjumani refugee camps

With the same investment of  € 604,272 from European Union Humanitarian Aid and the Swedish Government through Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Plan International Uganda has:

  • Constructed 13 permanent classroom structures where early learning activities take place  for children between 3-6 years.
  • We have trained 78 caregivers  to take care of  children while at  the learning centres
  • Established 10 Centre Management Committees  to date, to oversee the activities at the learning centres