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Webinar: Right Where We Belong Book Launch

Can you imagine a world where all young people have access to quality education?

In refugee communities, teachers and students are working to make this a reality by transforming their education systems to promote a safe, inclusive, and protective environment for all.

On World Teachers Day, WUSC hosted a virtual panel discussion with Sarah Dryden-Peterson, the author of Right Where We Belong, who was joined by refugee teachers and students from Dadaab, to highlight the groundbreaking work done by refugees to deliver inclusive education. Participants had the opportunity to hear directly from refugee educators and learners who talked about their own experiences with education in Dadaab and shared their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities related to access to education in their community.

Read on to learn about four key takeaways from our discussion on refugee education in Dadaab:

1. Refugee students face significant challenges in accessing education

As a teacher in Dadaab Refugee Camp, Suleika teaches Chemistry and Biology to high school students at Hagadera Secondary School. She shared her experience working as a teacher in a refugee community and discussed the challenges faced by students in her community. She explained that although “the number of students is increasing, opportunities are limited.” To better support the needs of students, she works with other teachers to provide counselling, helping them identify opportunities that will set them up for success in the future.

Gorad completed his primary education in Dadaab before moving to Nairobi. He is now studying at the University of Guelph through the Student Refugee Program. Reflecting on his experiences as a student in Dadaab, he talked about how many of the challenges he faced are still present today. These challenges include a lack of qualified teachers, insufficient classrooms, and limited funding for schools. He also highlighted how refugees are often unable to fully integrate into the host country. For example, restrictions on movement can make it hard for refugees to live and work outside of the refugee camp.

2. Education can contribute to creating peaceful and welcoming societies

For Gorad, “education is one of the greatest tools that can not only develop a society, but also unite a society.” Education provides young people with opportunities to create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. Education can also help prepare youth by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential. Through education, young refugees can grow to become the leaders of tomorrow, supporting the development of policies that can shape their communities.

3. Refugee teachers and students are powerful agents of change in their communities

As we celebrated World Teachers Day, Sarah highlighted the important role that teachers play in all of our lives. “This conversation about teachers is important because all of us have teachers,” she explained. One way that teachers are supporting students is by helping them reimagine the future and create opportunities that can fulfill their potential. In addition, Sarah shared how teachers can help students identify barriers and create tools to address them not only for themselves, but for their own community.

Refugee teachers and students are working to develop and implement innovative initiatives to support the education needs of students. Gorad presented his initiative to promote education in Dadaab. In collaboration with alumni of the Student Refugee Program, he is giving back by raising funds to purchase learning materials for schools, developing a campaign to promote girls’ education among community members, and supporting a mentorship program for students.

Suleika is committed to drawing from her own experiences to support students in her community. Passionate about supporting access to education, she has played an important role in conducting research and advocating for better access to education for girls and boys.

4. We should amplify the voices and experiences of refugees and refugee-led organizations

This discussion aimed to highlight the importance of agency of refugee educators and learners in their education journeys by giving a platform to those with lived experience of displacement. By listening to their stories, we were able to not only learn about the challenges that refugee students face, but also hear their ideas on how education can be improved in refugee communities. All panelists reinforced the importance of supporting refugees and amplifying their voices and of recognizing our responsibility in creating space for them to meaningfully participate. Their stories can help lead the way to better futures for refugee youth and inspire us to reimagine how we deliver education.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our event!

Watch the event recording here.

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