Finn Church Aid empowers refugees with education scholarships

Together with UNHCR, Finn Church Aid provides further education scholarships for refugees in Uganda. The financial support empowers refugees to continue their education at the university level.

WHEN KILLINGS in Yei became rampant, I fled to Uganda with my family for safety after witnessing many people being killed,” says Gloria Clinton Kani, one of five girls in her family, who fled South Sudan’s southern city.

Raised by a single mother, Kani struggled to study. Then she sat her A-Level exams and scored an above average 14 points in History, Economics, Divinity and Mathematics.

Initially encouraged, hope then faded for furthering her studies due to her family’s size and low income. Kani was then introduced to Finn Church Aid and UNHCR scholarships by a friend and she applied.

Gloria Kani, a refugee from South Sudan, sits at a table during an interview about her FCA Scholarship. Finn Church Aid empowers refugees with education scholarships for refugees.
Gloria Kani, a refugee from South Sudan, is now studying a Bachelor’s Degree on an FCA scholarship. Photo: FCA Uganda

“Luckily I didn’t go through a lot of interviews because there were only a few girls who applied for the scholarships. And the best part, I was the only applicant from my zone,” says Kani, humbly downplaying her own academic achievements.

These days Kani is studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Social Administration at the Uganda Christian University, courtesy of the FCA scholarship programme.

Education gap

Kani is one of 53 refugees being sponsored by FCA with funding from the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. Additional donations are thanks to international donors, the National Association of Partners and VOS Family.

According to Michael Tayebwa, Area Manager for the FCA Yumbe Field Office, most donors are attracted by early childhood education and primary education programmes. Therefore, less attention is given to secondary and post-secondary education which leaves a skills and knowledge gap in young people.  

“FCA is the leading education implementing partner for UNHCR in Uganda’s refugee settlements. We kept reporting the need for scholarships for learners that fall by the wayside after secondary education. That can result in negative outcomes, like involvement in criminal activity or marrying too early. In 2021, thanks to funding by the National Association of Partners, we gave 20 scholarships to 14 young men and six young women.”

Students studying with FCA education scholarships pose for a photo outside their university campus in Uganda. Finn Church Aid empowers refugees with education scholarships for refugees.
Some of the students studying under the FCA scholarship programme for refugees in Uganda. Photo: FCA Uganda

Selection Criteria

For a student to qualify for this scholarship, they must be a refugee residing in Bidibidi refugee settlement and have passed two A-levels. Gender balance is key – the intent is to have an equal split between male and female students.

“During selection, we considered levels of vulnerability. For instance, families headed by children were given priority in a bid to set them up for better livelihoods in future,” Michael adds.

Scholarship benefits

The successful applicant gets 100 per cent tuition fees, accommodation, upkeep for the entire semester, computers or laptops, and monthly internet access. Other benefits include university charges such as study trips and specific equipment needed for a particular course, like cameras for communication students.

FCA is the co-chair of the Education in Emergencies (EiE) Sector working group together with UNHCR and Ministry for Education and Sports, coordinating the refugee education operations in Uganda.

Read more about our work in Uganda

Text: Linda Kabuzire