Education Program Brings Smiles to Kunama Children
|Students in School in Ethiopia. (Photo: IRC)|
Ask any of the hundreds of Eritrean Kunama students attending classes in the Walanihbiy refugee camp, and they will tell you how much they enjoy learning again. The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which drove Eritrean Kunama refugees into northern Ethiopia in 2001, kept most children out of school for nearly two years. The IRC education program has provided a structured learning environment designed to help refugee children recover and heal after the trauma of displacement, as well as prepare them for a formal schooling program as soon as feasible.
In June of 2001, IRC began working with local government officials, camp leaders and parents to launch an emergency education program. The IRC hired and trained teachers, selected school administrators and established a youth program. In less than six months, the IRC trained twenty-four refugee teachers and enrolled nearly 550 children in formal schooling, vocational training, sports and recreational activities and social clubs.
In collaboration with the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy Conflict Research, the IRC began a research project in 2001 to explore how education influences the recovery and healing process for refugee children. A group of approximately 245 Kunama teens and their caregivers were asked a range of questions to assess the impact of emergency education on the psychosocial adjustment of Kunama refugee children and youth.