URGENT ACTION: UNHCR Need to Reinstitute Free Education in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

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In September 2015 historic United Nations summit, world leaders set 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development 17 goals to transform our world. The Fourth Goal is “Quality Education – Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning, increasing access to education at all levels”.  “No child should have to pay the cost of war, to be kept away from the classroom
because of conflict” – Malala Yousafzai

United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) partners with governments and international organizations to ensure quality protective education for refugee children and young people. Education is a basic human right enshrined in the 1989 convention on the rights of the child and the 1951 Refugee Convention.

The petition asks UNHCR to:

  • Immediately open any closed schools in Kakuma Refugee Camp.
  • Reinstitute FREE Education in Kakuma Refugee Camp.
  • Sack UNHCR Education officer Mohamed Wure for conflict of interest and colluding with contracted agencies, Windle International Kenya and Lutheran World Fedaration to privatize refugee education in Kakuma Refugee Camp.
  • Cancel contracts with Windle International Kenya and Lutheran World Federation and give the contract to capable organizations that are willing to deliver free education to refugees within budget as mandated by UNHCR.
  • Review contractual obligation of education implementing agency like WIK and LWF.
  • Reinstate refugee Head teachers and refugee teachers.
  • Investigate cases of police brutality, use of excessive force and coercing refugees to pay bribery and ransom.
  • Ask the Kenyan police to unconditionally release any refugee students still in their custody immediately.

Kakuma Refugee Camp Education Crisis:
Refugee students in four secondary schools in Kakuma Refugee Camp have now gone three (3) months without learning because of school closure. The implementing agency in charge of secondary education Windle International Kenya (WIK) introduced tuition fees of 1000 KSH (about 10 USD) per term to be levied on each secondary refugee student for a total of 3000 KSH annually – there are three terms in a year. WIK claimed that there is not enough budgets to run secondary schools and WIK was left with two options: either to close down schools or let the refugee students bear the cost of the budget shortage. Windle International made the decision without consulting with refugee community and enforced to levy 1000 KSH on students.

On March 14, 2018, students responded by peacefully protesting that decision, because where would students without sources of income find that money? In response, Windle International Kenya instructed elite Kenyan Police General Services Unit (GSU) to crack down on the secondary school students. The police went into refugee communities and beat up everyone they could find in the communities. More than 26 people were arrested. After being tortured, most of the students sustained severe injuries. Instead of being charged and arraigned in court, the police cramped them in their local cell and asked refugee community to pay a ransom of 15,000 KSH per each student arrested. This is beyond police brutality, this is thuggery and an act of terrorizing refugee community

The collusion and conspiracy:
During this education crisis, UNHCR Education officer Mohamed Wure (a Kenyan
national) is at the center of it and very aware of the local NGOs move to violate the
delivery of free education to refugees as mandated by UNHCR.
Early last year in 2017 primary school’s education implementing agency Lutheran World Federation/ Department of World Services (LWF/DWS) wrote a letter to all the refugees head teachers to relinquish their positions to Kenyan nationals who are paid seven (7) times more than refugee teachers. In addition WIK and LWF/DWS have threaten refugees teachers to obtained Teachers Services Commission (TSC) number from government of Kenya or loose their teaching job. Currently, 18 refugee headteachers out of 22 headteachers of primary schools have been replaced by Kenyan nationals. LWF/DWS has also suggested that the primary schools should be handed over to Kenyan government to hire teachers and run primary education as their subcontractor.

In the same conspiracy Windle International is replacing refugee teachers and privatizing refugees secondary to be paid-secondary schools for example former Napata Refugees secondary school is currently a private school with high fees not affordable to refugee students. UNHCR education representative Mohamed Wure has colluded with LWF/DWS and Windle International Kenya in allowing those NGOs to continue with the conspiracy against refugees and making education unaffordable for refugee students in Kakuma Refugees Camp.

Failure to restore free education for young refugees is not only a violation of UNHCR's own goals and mandate but also a betrayal of one of the only opportunities available to vulnerable people displaced by war to salvage their futures. Failure to reinstate refugee teachers and headteachers who consistently perform at similar levels as their Kenyan colleagues is a betrayal of the opportunity to support refugee capacity development and service. Failure to ask Kenyan police to unconditionally release refugee students who peacefully protested would entrench a culture where Kenyan police and those who use them to extort money from some of the most disadvantaged people in the world.

May the UNHCR stand with vulnerable young refugees, not with Kenyan cartels determined to jeopardize the futures of downtrodden people in a ruthless pursuit of money.