Finn Church Aid opens Kyiv office, focusing on restarting education for children in northern Ukraine

Finn Church Aid opens Kyiv office, focusing on restarting education for children in northern Ukraine

Schools have suffered enormous damage in the ongoing war in Ukraine. Finn Church Aid wants to be among the first organisations to support the return of children to school.

FINN CHURCH AID is entering the next phase of its emergency assistance programme in Ukraine; this includes support for the education sector that has suffered from the war. Work will begin in the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, approximately 150 kilometres northeast of Kyiv. To make this possible, Finn Church Aid is opening an office in the Ukrainian capital.

Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director of Finn Church Aid, was recently on a field visit to Ukraine. He emphasises that Finn Church Aid wants to support the return of Ukrainian children to school.

“The summer holidays are coming soon; the schools have to be repaired now so that children returning to their home districts can get back to their lessons in the autumn,” he explains. “There are currently few education sector players north of Kyiv, so that’s why we’re heading there with our work.”

Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv area in March/April. After battles, bombings and occupation, the schools in this area are in poor condition. There are unexploded munitions and mines in the area.

“Finn Church Aid’s team visited the area and assessed the condition of the schools there after the occupation and how they are damaged,” Hemberg continues. “Most of the schools have suffered somehow, and most of the ones that are still standing have been vandalised in many ways; even doors and windows have been stolen.”

Schools are important to children living amid war

The bombings have destroyed and damaged schools all over Ukraine. The Chernihiv area has seen missile strikes as recently as May.

“We believe that targeting schools with hostilities is inhumane and prohibited outright by humanitarian law,” says Hemberg emphatically. “Attacking schools means that the rules of war have not been followed, and it is also clear that such acts have a negative impact on the civilian population and the prospects of children and youth.”

Education in humanitarian crises is a central expertise of Finn Church Aid. The organisation leads education work in eleven countries on three continents.

Education in emergencies can be viewed as a life-saving activity. Schools bring routines and a sense of normality to the daily lives of children living amid war or as refugees. Schools can also disseminate vital information, for example, about unexploded mines and munitions; in Ukraine there are large numbers of these, due to the current and past conflicts.

Psychosocial support is also an important part of educational work in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Finn Church Aid has long experience in this area in all of its programme countries, such as providing essential training to teachers on psychosocial support. Ukraine has many children who will need multi-layered support due to the long-term psychological effects of war, and this will form a key part of Finn Church Aid’s work in the region.

Finn Church Aid continues relief distributions in Ukraine

In addition to working in support of the education sector, Finn Church Aid will continue to provide internally displaced people with emergency aid, together with Hungarian Interchurch Aid, its local partner organisation.

Part of this work has involved the delivery of 662,000 kilograms of aid including food and drink, nappies and other hygiene products. Furthermore, refugee shelters opened in places like schools, nurseries and church premises have been supported with washing machines and kitchen refrigeration appliances.

The relief work began in March on the Hungarian-Ukrainian border and in Lviv. Just recently, aid lorries belonging to Finn Church Aid and Hungarian Interchurch Aid have reached areas in eastern Ukraine as well.

For more information:

Executive Director, Mr. Jouni Hemberg, jouni.hemberg[a]kirkonulkomaanapu.fi, +358 50 325 9579
Communications Manager, Mr. Erik Nyström, erik.nystrom[a]kirkonulkomaanapu.fi, +358 5038 07250,

Photo: A wrecked school pictured in the city of Chernihiv in March. Lehtikuva / AFP

FCA expands operation to aid people displaced by war in Ukraine

Finn Church Aid expands operation to aid people displaced by war in Ukraine

Finn Church Aid (FCA) announced on Monday that they are scaling up their response to the war in Ukraine by deploying staff in Ukraine and neighbouring countries and expanding their programs beyond immediate aid.

IN RESPONSE to the war, which has forced over three million people to flee Ukraine, FCA announced plans for a multi-country response that includes the deployment of staff to the Ukraine and Hungary. Currently, FCA supports Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) who is assisting people in Hungary, the Transcarpathia region and in Lviv with food, water, hygiene items and life-saving medical equipment.

“Finns have donated generously to our response to aid those who have been affected by the war in Ukraine and we are responding now and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Our experience serving refugees in other countries, particularly in education, will be invaluable in assisting those inside and outside Ukraine, especially women and children,” says Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director, FCA.

15,254 people have already been assisted by the joint efforts of FCA and HIA by the delivery of seven million euro of life-saving medical equipment to Western Ukraine and 278 metric tons of food and other essential items to a number of locations where displaced people are located. HIA has established reception centres for those who have fled the conflict, both on the Hungary-Ukraine border and in Budapest.

“Some of these people have left their home in ten or twenty minutes – they have left everything behind. Their journey to Lviv and further has taken 24 hours or more. Some of the families have been living in shelters for days, even weeks. Their needs at the moment are acute – they are hungry, thirsty and exhausted,” says Ulriikka Myöhänen, FCA spokesperson, who has visited Lviv and other areas in Ukraine in the past week.

People fleeing from Ukraine queuing for train photographed in the beginning of March in the Western city of Lviv. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

FCA is assessing more partners in countries hosting refugees from Ukraine

Staff from FCA will work in Hungary and Ukraine to support HIA with the management of the response, education in emergencies and communications. FCA is also assessing other partners so that they can expand their operations into other countries that are hosting refugees from Ukraine.

“We pray that peace will come soon but, even if it does, the war has already taken an unimaginable toll on Ukraine and its people. As experts in education, one of the things that we can do is ensure that children continue their education and we aim to find ways to do this for children who have been displaced by this conflict,” says Hemberg.

“All of them worry about the future, how to earn a living and how to get their children to school again,” says Myöhänen.

Contact information:

International Communications Specialist Melany Markham
melany.markham[at]kirkonulkomaanapu.fi
+45 9194 26709


FCA spokesperson Ulriikka Myöhänen
ulriikka.myohanen[a]kirkonulkomaanapu.fi
+358 50 576 7948
(on the ground in Ukraine and Hungary)

The Minister of Education & Sports in Uganda commissions Bukere Secondary School in refugee settlement

The Minister of Education & Sports in Uganda commissions Bukere Secondary School in refugee settlement

The First Lady of the Republic of Uganda and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni, commissioned Bukere Secondary School, on 16 March in Kyaka II refugee settlement, Kyegegwa district, Western Uganda.

CONSTRUCTED BY Finn Church Aid (FCA) with funding from the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), the school was built during the two years that schools were closed during the covid pandemic.

Speaking during the commissioning of the school, the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni appreciated how the United States PRM and FCA are helping to improve the quality education in the refugee settlements.

“On behalf of the Government of Uganda and in particular the Ministry of Education and Sports I want to congratulate, commend and applaud the US Government’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and Finn Church Aid not only for the outstanding achievement we are witnessing here today but for all the work they have accomplished to make a difference in the lives of people who came as strangers seeking asylum and who, because of their willingness to join us now, have hope for a bright future even when the time comes for them to return to their own homes,” she said.

The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports of Uganda, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni (fifth from left) is welcomed to Bukere Secondary School by Nashwa Elgardi (far right) from the Embassy of the United States, Joel Boutroue (second from left), the Resident Representative of UNHCR and Wycliffe Nsheka (far left), FCA Uganda Country Director welcome

Uganda hosts over 1.54 million refugees and asylum-seekers mainly from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi and hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), about 60 percent of the total refugee population are children below 18 years.

“Bukere Secondary school will enable refugees and host community children and adolescents to attain quality secondary education. Kyaka II refugee settlement previously had only one secondary school to cater for hundreds of secondary school students within the settlement,” says Wycliffe Nsheka, Country Director, FCA Uganda.

The new school will accommodate over 600 students from senior one to senior four.

Education gives hope to refugee children

“Education is a major intervention in the refuge communities because it gives hope to refugee children and their parents … it brings a sense of normalcy to their lives. It also provides protection mechanisms for children in those challenging conditions. Above all, it gives children a stable foundation so they can achieve the full potential of their lives,” said the Minister.

Classrooms at Bukere Secondary School which opened for the first time on 10 January, 2022.

The school was constructed under the LEARN Project, an education project for refugee and host community children and adolescents that is being implemented in Kyaka and Bidibidi, Palorinya refugee and Rwamwanja refugee settlements.

Under this project, FCA has constructed 72 classrooms, five libraries, nine science laboratories, five school administration blocks, 80 teachers’ accommodation units and 194 toilet blocks for teachers and students in these settlements.

Together with the Ministry of Education, FCA is the co-lead for education sector that coordinates the education response for refugees and host populations countrywide. Along with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), FCA works with UNHCR and other actors responding to the needs of refugees in Uganda.


Text: Linda Kabuzire
Images: Jackson Ssemwanga

Dreams at stake – 21-year-old Rose had just two weeks of school before lockdown hit

 

Dreams at stake – 21-year-old Rose had just two weeks of school before lockdown hit

The covid-19 pandemic has derailed the lives of young people in South Sudan, a country recovering from a civil war. Rose, living in Yei, finally has a new opportunity to pursue her dreams.

WILD VEGETATION surrounds crumbled, abandoned mud huts. Scattered around, there are the remains of cars, stripped of wheels and other removable parts. Empty houses are missing their most valuable parts: tin roofs and windows.

The surge in returnees that accelerated prior to the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t repaired the damages caused by the 2016 civil war around the city of Yei. The sight is still stomach-churning for those returning to the region, says 29-year-old Viola Jabu. Life in Yei began completely anew, without a home or work.

“When we decided to return, I was afraid there’d be no one in Yei,” Viola Jaby says. She began the journey home from a Ugandan refugee settlement with nine children and adolescents in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit.

“I was relieved to see plenty of life on the streets. However, our home had been destroyed.”

Viola Jabu and her family have settled behind an abandoned petrol station on a busy street. The suitcases and bags, in which the family has packed their entire life, are neatly piled in the children’s bedroom. The parents sleep in a storage room, lit by the light coming in through a tiny window.

“We returned from Uganda because life as a refugee was tough. It was difficult to find food and work and the children were often ill. My husband lived here already and told us that it’s safe now,” Viola Jabu tells.

“We couldn’t have imagined that we’d have to face a pandemic, too.”

Nainen, jolla on pieni lapsi sylissään.
Viola Jabu and soon 2-year-old Emmanuela returned to Yei in February 2020.

Over a year without school

Across the street is St. Joseph’s s School. There, 21-year-old Rose Night began her second year as an upper secondary school student. Rose lives with her uncle Woi Wilson, Viola Jabu’s partner. Rose’s parents abandoned her when she was a child; her father disappeared, and her mother moved to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Wearing her school uniform, Rose has patiently listened to our conversation for over an hour. Then she can no longer wait.

“When are you going to ask me something?” she asks. It’s uncommon for students to volunteer for interviews unprompted.

“School has taught me that one must be courageous and study a lot, so that it’s possible to make one’s own decisions in life. With the help of education, you can find work and look after yourself,” she quotes her teachers.

Rose started school at the age of nine with support from her uncle, and her dream is to become a lawyer. Uncle Woi Wilson hopes Rose will one day study at a university.

Rose’s schooling already came to a halt once when the family fled to Uganda. After returning to South Sudan, she was in school for just two weeks before the closure.

“We were told to stay at home and be patient, but there was nothing to do. I was sad.”

In South Sudan, the opportunities to switch to remote learning were non-existent, which is why numerous children and adolescents had their schooling suspended for over a year. In a country that has already suffered from a civil war, it is estimated that 2.2 million children didn’t go to school before the pandemic, and according to an estimate by UNICEF, the pandemic doubled the number to 4.3 million.

Viola Jabu and Woi Wilson organised home schooling for the children, so that they wouldn’t forget the importance of education in pursuing their dreams. Everywhere in the world, the lives of the young are full of temptations. Rose kept her chin up.

“Young people started to act up, run off from home at night, party and drink and consume other drugs. I didn’t do like the others and that’s why some distanced themselves from me,” Rose says.

“Young people no longer knew where their lives were headed.”

Talo, jonka pihalla on kolme ihmistä. Yksi heistä kuokkii maata.

Viola Jabu’s family is building a kitchen garden in front of an old petrol station. In the city every plot that can be used for growing is utilised. Pictured also cousins Grace (left) and Rose.

Eri ikäisiä ihmisiä pöydän ääressä. Pöydällä on papereita.

Viola Jabu was home schooling children and adolescents when schools where closed because of the pandemic.

Nuori tyttö hymyilee ja katsoo vasemmalle.

Rose dreams of university studies and becoming a lawyer.

A new kind of threat

Yei is the third largest city in South Sudan and strategically important for commerce due to its location near the borders to both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.

The county surrounding the city is known as the granary of South Sudan, and in peacetime Yei can ensure the availability of food in the entire country.

The current peace agreement has been in force for over three years, yet outside the city there are still armed groups that haven’t signed it. The residents can’t go to the vast fields in the villages, so it’s common to see corn planted on roadsides all over the city.

Finn Church Aid (FCA) supports food security for returning migrants and their opportunities to earn a living with, for example, cash assistance. Tens of thousands of people have already returned from Uganda to star over in life, says Moses Habib, humanitarian coordinator at FCA.

“We’ve supported returning families with cash, so in the beginning they’re able to buy food, repair their homes and cover the costs of their children’s schooling,” he tells.

For years the residents of Yei have persisted in the face of various threats. On top of war, there is disease. A poster on the wall of a centre that registers returning migrants encourages getting vaccinated against polio. South Sudan is one of the few countries in the world in which the disease has been resurgent in recent years.

Another poster explains the symptoms of ebola and emphasises the importance of hand hygiene in stopping its spread. It resembles a newer poster next to it, which explains how to avoid catching Covid-19.

The most significant consequences of the pandemic are linked to livelihood and education. Globally, the UN estimates that the pandemic has pushed tens of millions of families to the brink of extreme poverty.

“Teachers had to find other jobs for when the schools were closed, and many students have had to support their families by working. We’re concerned that some of them won’t come back,” says Habib.

Katunäkymä. Koulupukuisia nuoria kävelee tietä pitkin kohti kameraa.

School-related costs, such as learning materials and school uniforms, can be too expensive for a poor family.

Kaksi nuorta naista koululuokassa.

Rose (right) and her classmate Vivian are lucky, because they had the opportunity to return to school.

Work instead of school

18-year-old Samuel Ayki toils away at a vegetable plot with his two brothers. It’s only been two weeks since the beanie-wearing young man returned to Yei. Samuel spent the early stages of the pandemic as a refugee in Uganda, where school closures lasted for 80 weeks, longer than anywhere else in the world. Because of the restrictions on movement, the local market at the refugee settlement was closed, and Samuel’s mother Mary lost her income. Samuel was due to finish comprehensive school in spring 2020 and now he’s supposed to study at upper secondary level.

Samuel’s (centre) family can’t afford school fees. 

“Covid ruined my schooling. It feels like my brain became blunt because I wasn’t able to learn anything new,” Samuel says.

In South Sudan, schools reopened in May 2021. When a friend of Samuel’s went back to school in Yei, he encouraged Samuel to return home. However, all related costs, such as learning materials and school uniforms, were such a huge expense for a poor family that Samuel couldn’t afford them. On top of this, the family needed the money Samuel was able to make doing odd jobs here and there.

Samuel plans to save money to return to school. Work is difficult to find, as he’s been away from the city for a long time and the pandemic has impoverished businesses. “I’m sad seeing my friends and neighbours go to school, when I’m just looking for work or sitting at home. Sometimes I try to study on my own using the notebooks I brought back with me from Uganda,” Samuel tells.

Katunäkymä. Kaksi nuorta miestä tervehtii toisiaan. Toisella on koulupuku päällään.

Peter, the friend of 18-year-old Samuel (right), goes to school. In Yei, students stand out because of their uniforms.

Nainen istuu sohvatuolilla. Nuori mies istuu sohvatuolin käsinojalla.

“Samuel buys food for his siblings with the money he’s saved for school. I feel sad seeing him go job hunting instead of school,” says Samuel’s mother Mary.

Nuori nainen tekee läksyjä sängyn päällä.

Rose is preparing for the first exam week in 18 months.

Mies pitää kuumemittaria nuoren naisen korvan kohdalla. Taustalla jonottaa nuoria koulupuvuissaan.

The schools in South Sudan were opened in May 2021. Rose and other students have their temperature taken and everyone must wear a mask.

Covid-19 puts girls’ schooling at risk

Having fewer and fewer opportunities for making a living has driven families to desperate decisions. Many girls have had to get married, because marriages benefit families financially.

Child marriages were a severe problem in South Sudan already prior to the pandemic; almost every other girl married underage, and now the number of child brides and teenage pregnancies has only gone up. Getting pregnant almost always means that the girl drops out of school, and the consequences are drastic when it comes to continuing education. Rose’s best friend didn’t return to the classroom when the schools reopened their doors.

“She decided to get married. Now she has a baby and can’t return to school. I don’t know what that means to her future, but I miss her,” Rose says.

Working as a grocer, uncle Woi Wilson’s livelihood has been dependent on the road running to the capital Juba and the neighbouring Uganda. Due to the pandemic, the traffic of goods slowed down, resulting in less income for sellers and higher prices for food. With the help of cash assistance from FCA, the family was able to buy food and support the continuation of the children’s schooling. After a long struggle, Rose is preparing for her first exam week in 18 months.

Many other enthusiastic students are waiting by the gates of St. Joseph’s School, where a guard takes their temperature and checks everyone is wearing a face mask. Fortunately, there’s one to spare for a girl who has left hers at home.

“At school I feel safe. Learning brightens my mind and give meaning to my days,” beams Rose.


Text: Erik Nyström
Photos: Antti Yrjönen
Translation: Anne Salomäki


Finn Church Aid (FCA) works in the most vulnerable communities in South Sudan, supporting the food security and livelihood opportunities for families. In autumn 2021, a programme was started to offer cash assistance to help children and adolescents who’ve returned from Uganda to cover the cost of their schooling. Comprehensive schools receive support in organising schooling. Emergency help is offered to disaster victims regardless of age, background or gender.

Quality vs Quantity: The challenges of providing education to refugees in Kenya

Quality vs Quantity: The challenge of providing education to refugees in Kenya

“The challenges are many.” It’s a phrase you hear often in East Africa and it rings especially true in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

CLOSE TO BORDERS of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia, Kakuma has harboured refugees from neighbouring countries for almost thirty years. It was established when a group of children, the ‘Lost Boys’, arrived from Sudan in 1992. In that year, Ethiopians and Somalis also fled to the camp after political crisis in their countries.

Today, Kakuma and the surrounding areas hosts a mix of nationalities and over half of the population is under eighteen. They are well served by the 26 primary and secondary schools in and around the camp. Such is its reputation for education, that children will walk for days from South Sudan to Kakuma to attend school. In November last year, three quarters of the 3,000 children in the reception centres had travelled to Kakuma to enroll in school.

Two boys walking to school in a refugee settlement
Two boys walk to school in Kalobeyei, Kenya which is home to around 42,000 people, half of whom are primary-aged children or younger. These boys attend Future Bright Primary school which is supported by FCA. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

The Kenyan Government welcomes them as best they can. Refugees in Kakuma are given a plot of land and poles and plastic sheeting to build a basic shelter. In Kalobeyei, a settlement thirty kilometres from Kakuma, they can build permanent homes, but this is barely enough to protect them from temperatures that can reach over forty degrees celsius.

Kakuma is located in one of the driest parts of Kenya and those who live there, even the local population, are dependent upon aid. Every year, new residents arrive, stretching resources further and further. In Kalobeyei, recently arrived refugees live among the local population. Established in 2016, the settlement is a departure from the Kenya Government’s earlier policy which discouraged refugees from working and integrating into the local population. In Kalobeyei, refugees and Kenyans live, work and study together. This is where FCA works.

Refugees crowd into classrooms

We operate eight primary schools for Kenyan and refugee children with funding from the Bureau of Population, Refugees & Migration, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children’s Fund and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. According to UNHCR, 77 percent of children aged 6-13 there attend school, almost on par with the national average of 80 percent. But the number of students is ever increasing and challenges of operating crowded classrooms is no more evident than in Kalobeyei.

a classroom crowded with refugees
Children in a classroom at Future Bright Primary School in Kalobeyei, Kenya. The school has around 3,000 students and each class has over 100 students. 42,000 people live in Kalobeyei and half are primary school age or younger. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

When school starts at 8am the temperature is already over thirty degrees Celsius. The air is full of dust and the shouts and laughter of children emanate from the classrooms. Inside the large, corrugated steel buildings, children are crammed four or five to a desk, overflowing onto the floor. Each class has at least one hundred students, some classes, close to two hundred.

Martin Albino Ayyiro (50) has been teaching for 26 years and was one of the best teachers in Torit, South Sudan, where he lived before fleeing to Kenya. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

Martin Albino Ayyiro was was a teacher in Torit, South Sudan, for twenty-five years, before conflict forced him to flee to Kenya. In South Sudan, his classes had a maximum of sixty students.

He now teaches at Future Bright Primary School and says,

“You cannot control the situation of the classroom because you don’t know who understands you and who doesn’t understand you,” says Ayyiro.

Teachers struggle to educate

In his classroom in Kalobeyei, Ayyiro often struggles to teach his students.

“… some children are very difficult, or they have problems. Maybe a child cannot come to school or can come irregular or (they) can come late to school. So, sometimes, maybe they are sleeping in the class,” he says.

Most of the refugees in Kalobeyei are also from Torit and, as a member of this community, Ayyiro not only speaks their native language, but often knows the parents, so he will make home visits . As a refugee teacher, he is not qualified in Kenya and so is paid as a volunteer (53EURO per month) in addition to the aid he receives as a refugee. Although he faces significant challenges, there are shared by everyone who works in the program.

Richard Tsalwa is FCA’s Project Coordinator in Kalobeyei and one of the first things you notice about Tsalwa is his eyes. They are kind, but tired. He oversees eight primary schools, 231 teachers and 21,000 students. He often talks about retiring to Kakamega, in Western Kenya, where he is from.

When Tsalwa began studying education, he was guaranteed a job. But by the time he graduated (1998) the Kenyan Government had stopped employing teachers because of a World Bank structural adjustment.

“We were the first class not to be posted. We all went into other jobs – some are bankers, some are businessmen. Some Kenyan teachers spend many years unemployed – up to ten years,” says Tsalwa.

FCA's project manager in Kakuma
Richard Tsalwa is the Technical Project Manager for FCA in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. A trained teacher himself, he oversees primary education for around 21,000 students. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

When it comes to education, Tsalwa has seen it all. He has been a humanitarian for fifteen years and has worked in Nigeria, Sudan, Chad, Sri Lanka and, for the last three years, in Kakuma for FCA. “We have seen education changing the lives of these refugees,” Tsalwa says.

Giving every child an education is simple in theory, but in practice, ‘the challenges are many’, especially among refugee populations. Sustainable Development Goal number four is to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. The reality is that there is no single organisation or authority responsible for this. In Kakuma, the responsibility for primary and secondary education for refugees lies with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), however their primary mandate is protection, not education.

Funding cuts mean more students per teacher

Funding cuts in the aid sector mean that FCA has less money to pay teachers in 2022 – funds for next year are 40% less than in 2021 which means less teachers or smaller salaries.. “… if you reduce the teachers, the number of learners is increasing – there are new ones coming in … Right now we have a gap of 35 teachers and … we can only absorb (pay) these teachers just for six months,” says Tsalwa.

Children receiving a meal in a school
Children in Kalobeyei queue up for lunch. The school has around 3,000 students and for many of them this will be their only meal of the day. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

Beside teacher salaries, there are other costs of running a school such as teaching and learning materials, equipping children with special needs, supporting teenage mothers. The World Food Program funds school meals which for some children, is their only meal of the day.

As little funding as there is for primary education, there is even less for secondary. This results in high dropout rates. Among refugees aged from 14-17, only five percent attend school. This is lower than the rate in Turkhana County (nine percent) where Kalobeyei is located and well below the 38 percent national average.

FCA training refugees to teach

With so few refugees finishing high school very few are qualified to become teachers, but this is something that FCA is trying to address by providing scholarships to refugees to attend a new teacher training college close to Kakuma. Funded by UNHCR, the college has the capacity for one hundred students, and Mawut Wwor Chol is one of the first to attend lectures there. Originally from Ethiopia, Chol started studying at the college in October, but his journey to get there epitomises the challenges that refugees face.

Chol started Secondary School in 2011 and, due to ‘issues’, had to repeat his first class. During his exams for his school certificate the camp was ‘in a mess’. “There was infighting among the refugees. There was a fighting that messed up the camp and there was insecurity … I had sleepless nights. I would be watching from seven in the evening up to the daybreak and then I went to write the exam until I completed,” says Chol.

Mawut Wwar Chol, a refugee teacher
Mawut Wwor Chol (32) sits in a class at the teacher training college close to the Kakuma refugee camp. He is one of the first students to attend classes at the college which is supported by FCA. Originally from Ethiopia and fled to Kakuma with his younger brother when he was fourteen. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

He failed his exams. “That made me bitter,” he says. Determined, he decided to repeat and was offered a scholarship at a school in Kitale, a large town in Western Kenya. This time he passed, but it still took him another year to find a job as a teacher in Kakuma. When he finally did, he seized every educational opportunity that came his way and has even completed a course with Regis University in the United States in March 2021. “Instead of going to Nairobi University or anywhere there, we are trying to get it piece by piece, so that we join the educated world,” says Chol.

If the challenges for men like Chol are many, the challenges for women are even more. The few who complete secondary school have very low grades, so finding qualified female teachers is very difficult.

“At ECD (early childhood development) the ratio is fifty-fifty, boys to girls. As you go up the grades, the ration decreases to about a third of girls in the classrooms. They leave school for many reasons – domestic work, looking after other children, pregnancy and early marriage,” says Tsalwa.

Women face more challenges

These challenges are something that Roda Daniel knows well. A refugee from Sudan, she fled to Kenya, alone, after primary school. Girls like her are particularly vulnerable, and so she was enrolled in an all-girls boarding school. This helped her to focus on her studies and she graduated and became a teacher. Now, she is the deputy head teacher at Morning Star Primary School (which is supported by FCA) and is one of the first students to study at the teacher training centre.

Image of female refugee teacher
Roda Daniel (25) is one of the first teachers to attend lectures at the teacher training college near Kakuma, Kenya. Roda finished primary school in Sudan before she fled to Kenya. After completing high school, she became a deputy head teacher at a local primary school. Photo: Antti Yrjonen/FCA

“Going to school from very early in the morning and coming out from here 5-5.30 you reach home six. With some females, like the lactating mothers, it becomes a challenge. What we came to realise, when the few were shortlisted, it was a qualification thing that meant most of females were not selected. Though many of us hoped to have this course, now, very few, very few are picked because of the qualifications,” says Daniel.

Despite affirmative action, that recognises experience instead of qualifications, Daniel was only one of ten female students out of sixty in the first intake at the college. Those who were ‘picked’ realise how lucky they are. When you walk into the lecture hall of the training college there is a palpable feeling of optimism. Although this might be said of any group of young hopefuls, but it is amplified by the challenges that these students have had overcome to make it here. “You see the hunger for education, especially among the South Sudanese,” says Dennis Wamalwa, the lecturer.

The education diploma offered at the Teacher Training College is a compressed course that takes just over a year, whereas a diploma in a public university takes between two and two and a half years. At the college, students learn onsite and online and the first intake should graduate in December next year.

Tsalwa is hopeful that the training college will improve the standard of education and teaching in Kakuma. “I hope to see well trained teachers (in 2022) who will definitely boost the quality of teaching and learning in our schools

… when we talk of quality, you can only talk of quality when you have trained teachers to deliver the curriculum,” says Tsalwa.

exterior of the teacher training college
The resource centre in the teacher training college in the Kakuma refugee camp. Opening in October 2021 and supported by FCA, the centre offers a university diploma in education to refugee teachers. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

Tsalwa is also a realist and knows that once the refugees are qualified, they may leave teaching for other opportunities. He says that “… if you graduate in Kenya with a primary school certificate, you are well-qualified if you go back to South Sudan.”

“When you train them well, they get other jobs, because they don’t like teaching. They do it because they don’t have any other choice, so we have a high turnover of teachers,” he says. There is very little that can be done about this. Tsalwa knows himself how stressful teaching is even when they aren’t dealing with over a hundred students. Chol acknowledges this also, “I think it (the course) is a gateway for another opportunity.”

But Roda Daniel is different and illustrates why it is important to create opportunities for women. “With my mindset, I am still just within Kenya. And after graduating I will still see ahead if I will really get an opportunity to do a degree. Meanwhile (it is) still best teaching or supporting our community.”

Roda Daniel at the teacher training college
Roda Daniel (25) leaves the teacher training college for refugees. After completing high school in Kakuma, she became a deputy head teacher at a local primary school and is one of the first to attend lectures at the college. Photo: Antti Yrjönen/FCA

Text: Melany Markham

Photos: Antti Yrjönen

As schools in Uganda reopen, refugees crowd into classrooms

After two years of closures, Ugandan schools reopened and refugees eagerly returned to classrooms

Schools were closed in spring 2020 as Uganda went into lockdown due to COVID-19. Over fifteen million children were out of school, including more than 600,000 primary and secondary aged refugee students.

ISAAC MUNYUZA’S favourite subject is biology, and he dreams of becoming a doctor. Unfortunately, for the last year, he has been working as an unskilled labourer while schools in Uganda were closed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Schools were closed in June 2021 as the country went into lockdown following a second wave of COVID-19.  Over fifteen million children were out of school, including more than 600,000 primary and secondary aged refugee students.

Munyuza, who is eighteen, fled Congo with his parents and siblings in 2014 following the war that left hundreds of people dead and others injured.

“Life was hard in Congo. We were always terrified that soldiers would come and kill us. Because of the uncertainty, we decided to cross the border into Uganda and seek refuge,” he says as he sits on the doorstep of his home in Kyaka II refugee settlement in Western Uganda.

“Now I will be able to walk to school”

Munyuza is one of the students that will be joining Bukere Secondary School on January 10th 2022 when schools reopen. The new school was constructed in Kyaka refugee settlement by Finn Church Aid (FCA) with funding from the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

“My new school has a laboratory so I will be able to do my practical lessons from there,” he adds.

“Bukere secondary school…its closer to home. Now I will be able to walk to school and arrive on time before classes start. I used to reach late at my former school because it was far, and I had to walk a long distance. Sometimes I would even miss school,” says Munyuza. Prior to the school closure, Munyuza was studying from Bujubuli secondary school which is about ten kilometres away from his home.

The new secondary school will help reduce the reduce the number of students in the classroom which is expected to be huge in January 2022. This is because each grade will have a double cohort of students that couldn’t move on to the next grade due to the pandemic.

Hämärässä huoneessa oleva mies katsoo ikkunasta ulos.
Vallence Tukacungurwa, Head Teacher at Bukere Secondary school eagerly awaits students returning to their school in January 2022. Photo: Melany Markham/FCA

“Construction of more classrooms to cater for the big number of students is underway, and we are equipping teachers with knowledge and skills to handle large classes once schools resume. We have given teachers, parents and learners psychosocial support to mentally prepare them for the reopening,” says Dennis Okullu Ogang, FCA´s Education Specialist.

“At Bukere Secondary school we have already enrolled over 250 students to attend senior one, two and three.” says Vallence Tukacungurwa the Head Teacher at Bukere Secondary school.

Schools with special support

During lockdown, FCA ensured that over 70,000 children at all levels could continue learning by providing home learning/self-study materials developed by the National Development Curriculum Centre (NCDC) to students. Children from vulnerable families were supplied with radio handsets and, teachers conducted live radio lessons. Home learning was further supported by small community learning groups and home visits.

Still, many students faced significant barrier to their education. Over 90,000 girls under 18 years have become pregnant while under lockdown according to a United Nations Population Fund 2020 report on teenage pregnancy and FCA is working hand in hand with the government to allow them to attend school.

“FCA is also rolling out the Ministry of Education ‘s policy on prevention and managing teenage pregnancy in schools in Uganda so that schools can accept girls who became pregnant during school closure by supporting them with counselling through the school system so that they can continue with learning” says Okullu Ogang.

One of these measures is a collaboration with the nearby health facilities so that they can assist in case of an emergency.

Every student and staff member has their temperature taken in FCA’s schools and leaves their contact information in case of confirmed Covid 19 infection. Photo: Melany Markham/FCA

Another measure that aims to help these and other students complete their studies is the condensed curriculum for primary and lower secondary students. Funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (EU/ECHO), this will allow refugees and Ugandans who are now over school age to complete their studies.

Significant resources have also been spent so that children with disabilities will be welcomed into the classroom.

“We have established schools with specialized facilities for children with disabilities. We have set up a full-fledged Special Needs Education (SNE) School in Adjumani and an SNE specialised school in Kyaka refugee settlement to cater for children with severe disabilities. We have also recruited and deployed teachers who are specialised in SNE,” says Okullu Ogang.

Preparing for a safe return to the classroom

“Our teachers have been moving around the settlement sensitizing the community about the Standard Operating Procedures directed by the Government of Uganda to curb the spread of COVID-19. We have also mobilized to ensure that teachers get vaccinate,” says Tukacungurwa, adding that they have been informing people about the services available at the new school.

Preventing COVID-19 takes more than just talk and so FCA has provided equipment like infrared thermometers/temperature guns, handwashing stations, sanitizer, soap and facemasks to over one hundred schools and Early Childhood Development Centres within the refugee settlements.

Koulun piha Ugandassa.
Bukere secondary school was still waiting for students in late 2021. Photo: Melany Markham/FCA

“We have also trained school surveillance teams comprising of students, senior management members and teachers to be able to fully monitor adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures at the schools,” says Okullu Ogang.

FCA has done everything that they can to make sure that schools continue to be safe spaces for children to learn and staff are proud to open their doors again to classrooms. The staff at Bukere Secondary School have gone even further by making their school are pleasant environment to learn.

“Currently we are in the process of beautifying the school. We have planted trees, slashed the compounds and are cleaning all the facilities like the classrooms which have been unused for quite some time,” says Tukacungurwa.

Standing at the doorway of his new classroom, Munyuza appreciates their efforts. “I am excited to go back to school. I like my new school,” he says.


By: Linda Kabuzire
Photos: Melany Markham

Beirut’s schoolchildren need our help to rebuild their lives

Beirut’s schoolchildren need our help to rebuild their lives

Lebanon’s multiple simultaneous crises are fuelling domestic abuse, child exploitation, child marriages and child labour, writes Emma Pajunen, FCA’s humanitarian assistance coordinator living in Beirut. FCA has begun work in schools affected by the Beirut port explosion.

I recently visited a Beirut school, where we are launching Finn Church Aid’s educational programme, to ask the teachers and students how they felt the school was doing. They showed me a deserted basketball court and said it now served as a car park.

In Beirut, Covid-19 closed playgrounds early on, and many children and young people have spent much of the past 18 months at home. The students I met at school hoped they would be able to play games and have fun in the schoolyard when schools restart in the autumn.

Finn Church Aid is about to start repairing five schools affected by the port explosion in Beirut. The damage to the schools has made them unsafe for children to play games. Photo: Emma Pajunen 2021.

In Lebanon, children and young people need our support now more than ever. In the wake of the devastating port explosion in August 2020, the country has plunged into a political stalemate without a functioning government. Lebanon is also suffering from a severe economic crisis which is exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Besides the locals, refugees also need help. About 1.5 million Syrians fled the war in their home country to Lebanon. Now refugees account for a staggering 25 per cent of Lebanon’s population.

Unprecedented economic collapse and a devastating explosion

According to a report published by the World Bank in June, Lebanon’s economic crisis is thought to rank in the top three most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-19th century.

Since October 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost about 90 per cent of its value against the dollar. This means that ordinary people’s salaries or pension savings have lost most of their value. Poverty and unemployment are estimated to have at least doubled.

Along with food supplies, the currency collapse is affecting the availability and prices of fuel and medicines. The Lebanese people I met said the only way to make ends meet is for relatives and friends living abroad to send them dollars.

The devastating port explosion in Beirut took place on 4 August 2020. A strong pressure wave caused extensive damage to the city’s buildings. This photo is from the school where FCA is starting programme work. Photo: Emma Pajunen 2021.

Lebanon has not had a sovereign government since the previous government resigned after the Beirut port explosion in August 2020, which further complicates the situation. About 200 people died and 300,000 people lost their homes in the blast.

Immediately after the explosion, FCA sent emergency relief, including food and hygiene items, to more than a hundred families.

The explosion damaged more than 200 schools, affecting over 85,000 students. Reconstruction is still in progress.

Finn Church Aid is beginning repairs in some schools damaged by the port explosion. The schools are in the poorest areas of Beirut and mostly attended by local Lebanese or refugee children.

Schools face many challenges

The Lebanese education sector is in deep crisis. Nationwide protests that began in October 2019 forced children to stay at home even before the Covid-19 lockdowns. Since then, some Lebanese and Syrian students have missed out on education completely, and over a million students have lost more than a year of learning.

According to a recent UNICEF report, 15 per cent of the families they interviewed had taken their children out of school because they could no longer afford school fees, and nine per cent of families had to send their children to work instead of school.

Before remote learning was offered, only half of Syrian school-age refugees attended school. During the 2020–2021 school year, 25,000 Syrian refugees dropped out of school and more than 40,000 Lebanese students moved from private to public education because their parents could no longer afford tuition fees. But public schools were already full, and now children go to school in two shifts.

The explosion smashed building structures and windows. In this school, plastic sheeting still replaced windowpanes in May 2021. Photo: Emma Pajunen.

For many reasons, distance learning has been difficult to provide. Internet connections are slow and expensive, power cuts are common, families lack IT equipment and parents may be unable to help their children with home schooling. The effects have been particularly disastrous for vulnerable schoolchildren, such as Syrian refugees.

The economic crisis has also affected teachers who have seen their salaries plummet. If the value of a teacher’s monthly salary in dollars was about $1,900 a month, it is now about $160. At current prices, it’s hard to imagine how this would be enough to support a family, pay rent or even buy food. So teachers often take two or more evening or weekend jobs just to make ends meet.

Schoolchildren need our support

During school visits, I have listened to the discussions between the teaching staff and students. Support for the wellbeing of children often comes up. Lebanon’s multiple simultaneous crises are fuelling domestic abuse, child exploitation, child marriages and child labour. Children’s distress is palpable, and the need for psychosocial support in schools is growing.

FCA’s school projects are repairing schoolyards so that children can play games and have fun again. Photo: Emma Pajunen 2021.

Our work aims to improve the learning conditions for schoolchildren. In our partner schools, we are not only repairing the damage caused by the port explosion, but also investing in outdoor spaces. In some schools, the yards are small and lack the space for play, exercise or games. Pleasant schoolyards and the time spent in them will provide a major boost for students’ wellbeing.

FCA offers remedial classes for those at risk of dropping out of school, including a free meal for the students attending the classes. We also provide cash assistance to parents who cannot afford school fees. And based on feedback from students, we organise activities such as sports and games to boost students’ wellbeing. Teachers receive training in psychosocial support and distance learning methods.

I’m happy to report that the repair works will begin soon, and the other school programmes will start in September when the new semester begins.

The writer is Finn Church Aid’s humanitarian assistance coordinator in Lebanon. She has lived in Beirut for two and half years.

Girls’ education gains ground in Somalia’s hard-to-reach area

Girls’ education gains ground in Somalia’s hard-to-reach area

Five thousand learners enrolled in school in Hudur in one of the first education interventions in the area, supported by EU Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). Almost half of the learners were girls.

Parents in Somalia’s rural areas have traditionally not valued education, and if the opportunity exists, families typically send only their boys to school. As a result, the interventions in the education sector were few when FCA launched its program in six schools in Hudur in June 2020.

FCA started implementing the education project funded by EU Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) by launching mass awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of education. In addition, community meetings and the forming of local education committees increased the engagement of people.

Child marriage is one of the most significant barriers to girls’ education in areas such as Hudur. Becoming a caretaker of the family and a mother can end their chances of progressing at school.

Poverty is another obstacle to sending children to school. However, within this program, education is free, and the quality of learning is ensured through teacher training and quality learning materials. As a result, the project reached its goal of enrolling five thousand learners. The learners include 2,387 girls, almost half of the total. To keep girls in school during menstruation, 806 girls received monthly sanitary kits. In addition, older boys and girls were given gender-sensitive recreational materials.

Muna Mohamed Haydar, 17, washes her hands outside the school. She says, “My teachers are good and teach well. Math is my favorite subject because I enjoy doing calculations. It is important for us to attend school. Education will help us build a bright future.”

Teacher Lul Mohamed Nur is responsible for the protection and safety of the students. She encourages girls to receive good education. Today, the number of girls is higher than the number of boys in my school. She tells that, “we have achieved this after conducting relentless awareness in the neighborhood, telling families the importance of sending their girls to schools. We give special attention to learners with disabilities. They are often allocated seats at the front of the classroom.”

Hawa Isak Warsame, 16, tells, “my parents couldn’t afford to pay for my school fees but since it is free and they give us uniforms and other learning materials. I am keen to take advantage of this opportunity to educate myself.” Her favourite subject is English and she would like to work for a humanitarian organisation in the future. She also praises the safety of the school: “If one of the learners feel threatened they can submit their complaint into the box FCA has brought us. This really given me and my classmates a strong sense of safety.”

Suleqo Hassan Adan, 10, tells, “I like math because it is easy for me. I want to become a well-known engineer and rebuild my country or a teacher to help those in need in the community.” She also has a strong opinion about equality: “Education is important for everyone whether be it a boy or a girl. Parents must give equal opportunity to their children.”

Hamaro Mohamed Nur is Suleqo’s mother. “My daughter has been attending the school for a year. I always encourage her to go to the school and learn something. At first she used to resist but now she got used to it and she likes going to the school. Her interest has increased since she received uniform and learning materials. She has a lot of energy for her books now. My daughter is a child with special needs, she cannot see well due to her albinism. She told me the teachers make her sit next to the blackboard so that she sees what is written on the board. She really likes her teachers.”

Mohamed Hassan Abdirahman teaches English to internally displaced pupils. “I was motivated by the need of my community. There was no school in the area before we came up with the idea of establishing this learning center. All of the children here were out of school, so I decided to take action along with like-minded friends. As for the learners with disabilities, we pay special attention to them. We try to listen their demands and protect them from bullying. Safety and protection of the students is of high priority for us” and adds that it can protect girls from early marriages.

Zainab Abdullahi Ahmed, 10, goes to school for accelerated basic education (ABE) and says that she enjoys learning new things. “My teachers help me a lot. I don’t feel any problems attending the classes.” She also wants to help others in the future: “When I grow up, I want to become a doctor.”

Maryan Warsame tells that her child has been attending the school for five years. She says that, “as a parent, I am grateful for helping to educate my daughter. Here we consider teachers as second parents and indeed they are second parents because they treat our kids as their own.” She tells that, “I have both daughters and sons and I send all of them to school, but I am more confident in my daughters. An educated girl will always be helpful to her parent.”

Bashir Moallin Mohamed, 18, says he is very ambitious about his education. He praises the teacher for being kind and highly qualified. “English is my favorite subject because I am good at the grammar. I hope to speak good English soon. I want to become a teacher like my teachers and educate the the people in need in the community.”

Text: Mohamed Aden and Nora Luoma

Photos: Ismail Taxta

FCA launches an ECHO-funded project to enhance access to Education for displaced children in hard-to-reach areas of Southwest State of Somalia

FCA launches an ECHO-funded project to enhance access to Education for displaced children in hard-to-reach areas of Southwest State of Somalia

More than a dozen people sitting in a meeting.

We are happy to announce the launch a 12-month Education in Emergencies project in the Southwest State (SWS) of Somalia to fulfil the right to education of displaced children in areas that especially hard to reach. The READ Project is aimed at restoring and maintaining safe access to quality education for 7,000 crises-affected children so that they can enter or return to protective learning opportunities.

FCA will be implementing the project with its local partner Gargaar Relief Development Organization (GREDO) and it will operate in hard-to-reach areas of El-Berde Baidoa and Hudur. The project is funded by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) in its quest to support the improvement of access to quality education in Somalia.

The READ project is striving to improve children’s access to a safe, inclusive and protective learning environment; to enhance the capacity of teachers and other education personnel to provide quality education and learning outcomes; and to strengthen safety and child protection mechanisms in target schools for psychosocial well-being, protection and safeguarding of affected children.

In El-Berde, only 8 % of school-aged children (1,574 in total, incl. 884 males and 690 females) are enrolled in one public primary school and eight meant for IDPs, with 12,198 children estimated to be out of school. Although the district only hosts 3,500 IDPs, FCA assessed that the needs for education are incredibly high, as 698 children (402M; 296F) are learning in the only available six classrooms, where there are on average 116 students per classroom.

Similarly, Hudur has the population of around 100,437 with around 42,504 IDPs (24,322 males and 36,482 females) residing in 26 IDP settlements across the district.

The Director General of Ministry of Education (MoE) of Southwest State of Somalia Fadal Abdullahi Mursal attended the launch meeting. He told that a delegation from the MoE visited Hudur town late last month to investigate the impact of FCA’s earlier ECHO-funded education project.  They found great impact on the ground in terms of improved access to education.

“During our stay in Hudur, we had a meeting with the CECs and parents and they informed us that they are fully satisfied with FCA’s education program, especially the Accelerated Basic Education (ABE) system which supported many out-of-school children,” says Fadal Abdullahi Mursal, the DG of Ministry of Education of Southwest State.

The deputy minister for Education of Southwest hailed the ongoing FCA efforts in Bakool Region and requested FCA to expand their education projects and reach to the other Southwest State regions.

“Giving children a brighter future through education comes with commitment. I therefore request FCA to expand their education programmes to Lower Shebelle which is also part of Southwest State Regions,” says Abdifatah Isak Mohamed.

Finally, FCA’s Acting Somalia Country Director and the Programme Manager Mr. Bashir Fidow has appreciated the MoE-SWS partnership and pledged that FCA will continue working to enhance education for displaced people in hard-to-reach areas. 

“On behalf of FCA Somalia, we are happy to be working closely with the Mistry of Education of Southwest State as a partner. FCA has been providing and implementing Education in Emergencies programmes in SWS since 2018, including Hudur town in Bakool region, which is a hard-to-reach zone,” Bashir Fidow says. “Our new ECHO project 2021-2022 is expanded to Elberde, which is also a hard-to-reach area. FCA will continue working with the MoE of the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member State of Southwest to make sure that children in hard-to-reach areas receive quality education and that teachers are qualified.”

FCA has started its EiE response in Baidoa and other hard to reach areas of SWS in 2018, with support from ECHO HIP 2018 and 2020, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA) and FCA’s own Disaster Fund. To date, the interventions have enabled 15,500 crisis-affected children (45 % girls and 400 CWD) have access inclusive education through safe learning environments, improved quality of education and school-based protection mechanisms. Among these children, 1299 (45 % girls) are Accelerated Basic Education (ABE) learners.

Text: Mohamed Dugoow

Finn Church Aid publishes a remote teacher training package during pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic spread to the Cox’s Bazaar refugee camp, the Bangladeshi government announced that education was a non-essential activity, closed all education institutions, and instituted a countrywide lockdown. Hosting teacher trainings remotely became a challenge for the workers of FCA and DCA. Internet connectivity and access to IT tools are limited in areas of Bangladesh. Because of the pandemic, teachers were dealing with the extra stress of living under a lockdown, in an already heavily crisis-affected environment.

DCA and FCA education team members wanted to transform what they had learned during the pandemic into a package that could be used by any other partner at Cox’s Bazaar and in different local contexts in the world.

“The focus is as much on the participants as it is on the content,” FCA’s Education Technical Adviser Andreia Soares says. She has been seconded to the Cox’s Bazaar team of Dan Church Aid since March. “When we developed the package we paid attention to the participants’ relevant learning as well as well-being, and the process was very interactive,” she says.

Input and feedback from participants was constantly gathered and the activities were developed based on their experiences. Also volunteers from the Teachers Without Borders network helped with moving the training to digital channels. The training was delivered using both Zoom and WhatsApp offering both flexibility and social contact.