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UNICEF Uganda, UNHCR providing education to over 26,000 South Sudanese refugee primary children

© UNICEF Uganda
South Sudan refugee children attend class in a temporary learning shelter provided by UNICEF in Pagirinya refugee settlement.
By Catherine Ntabadde Makumbi

Hello pupils! Hello teacher! How are you? We are fine thank you. I have brought some guests to see you. Can we clap for them? This is the conversation between the Head Teacher of Pagirinya 1 Primary School in Adjumani District West Nile and pupils of Primary One B.

The school was by October 2016,accommodating 1,876 South Sudanese refugee children, thanks to UNICEF Uganda which has provided 5 tents of 72 meters squared to act as temporary classrooms and Windle Trust which recruited 22 teachers for this school. The tents were procured using funds from UKaid.

Windle Trust is a partner of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).  The 1,876 are among the refugees that came to Uganda since July 2016. UNHCR is also providing accommodation to the teachers in the refugee settlements.

The teacher in Primary One B continues with his work, taking the children through the days of the week, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The pupils repeat after him.

Emmanuel Ibaga, the head teacher says pupils in Primary One-Primary Two study half day while those in Primary three-Primary four learn up to 4:00pm. “Those who study up to 4pm are sent back home (within the settlement) to eat and return thereafter,” he explains.

Each class has three teachers to manage the high numbers. Allan Azur (not real names), 10 years old came to Uganda on September 22, 2016. “Because of the war, I left home and came here. I came with my aunt. My parents died of liver sickness before the war,” Azur clad in a marron checked shirt and black short, a uniform of his previous school in Sudan says.

Azur who is in Primary 4 likes to study at the Pariginya 1 Primary School and says English is his best language. Indeed he spoke good English throughout the interview. 

When running away from the war, Azur did not come alone. He crossed to Uganda with his 9 year old sister, who is in Primary three at the same school.

In Primary three classroom, the teacher is taking the pupils through the process of structuring sentences starting with the words “What did……”

This is where a team from UNICEF meets Azur’s sister, Evelyn Among (not real names). She is happy for the scholastic materials given to them by UNICEF. “The teacher distributes to us books, pens, pencils which we use in class,” says Among who is also dressed in a maroon checked dress uniform of her previous school in Sudan, similar to that of her brother Azur.

Among wants to become a teacher because as a child, she notes that she faced many challenges to access education.  After school, Among helps her aunt to fetch water from a borehole which is within easy access near her home.

UNICEF Gulu Zonal Office Emergency Education Officer Dorothy Birungi says UNICEF distributed 13 replenishment kits to Maaji Primary School which has over 3,500 pupils and to Pagirinya 1 in Adjumani to support the education of the pupils. The kits were also procured with UKaid funds. UKaid support for South Sudanese refugees through UNICEF is aimed at increasing access to education including early childhood care and child friendly services in the districts of Arua, Adjumani, Kiryandongo, Koboko Moyo and Yumbe. The support is also extended to the districts of Lamwo, Isingiro and Kamwenge.

Pagirinya Refugee Settlement has 23,766 refugees. The Government of Uganda through the Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR are coordinating the overall response of the South Sudanese refugees in Adjumani, Yumbe and Kiryandongo districts with support from other partners like UNICEF.

UNICEF’s humanitarian response in three districts is in the areas of education, health, child protection, water, sanitation and hygiene,

Reports from the UNICEF Gulu zonal office indicate that 4,721 refugees are registered in Pagirinya Settlement in three primary schools; Pagirinya government primary school, Pariginya 1&2 feeder primary schools. .

In Kiryandongo refugee settlement, the enrolment of the refugees is 8,263 while in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, Yumbe District, there are 13,508 in 10 feeder primary schools established in zone 1 and 2 by Windle Trust.

In the schools, UNICEF supported them with 16 tents of 72 meters squared for learning shelter in addition to providing water and sanitation services like safe water supply, handwashing facilities, according to Birungi.

Windle Trust and UNHCR are in the process of constructing new schools in Pagirinya and Bidibidi Refugee Settlements.

© UNICEF Uganda
South Sudan refugee children leave class in Pagirinya refugee settlement, Northern Uganda.



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