The integration of Burundian refugee students into the Rwandan national education system is almost complete, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund has said.
Since July 2015, all Burundian children of school-going age started going through a five-month induction programme aimed at acquainting them with the Rwandan education system before starting school this year.
“Currently, 19,422 students are enrolled in Primary One to Secondary Six grades,” reads the latest UNICEF Rwanda Humanitarian Situation Report in part.
Last September, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) wrapped up initial work on construction of classrooms for the refugee children at a school in the vicinity of Mahama Refugee Camp in Kirehe District where the majority of Burundian refugees are hosted.
At the time, it was estimated that more than 12,000 Burundian children would start school when the new school calendar begun in January.
Estimates also indicated that while more than 3,820 children aged between three and six years would start Primary One – out of the then total of 7,130 primary school-age children – more than 2,200 others would enroll into secondary school at the end of the five-month induction programme at Mahama camp.
UNICEF says, “shortage of teaching and learning material and the capacity of teachers remain key challenges.”
The UN agency says it needs $3,433,000 in funding, representing a 47 per cent funding gap.
Antoine Ruvebana, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar), corroborated the fact that “all school age refugee children are now in school”.
Aristarique Ngoga, the Mahama camp manager, told The New Times that nearly 16,000 Burundian school age children are enrolled at a school near Mahama camp alone.
Ngoga said: “By December last year, we had completed the construction of 120 classrooms in a nearby school.
The idea was to integrate the children into our education system. By February, all the children in this camp started school together with their Rwandan counterparts.”
“All necessities were provided by UNICEF and if you walked into the school you wouldn’t differentiate between Rwandans and Burundians as they all wear the same uniform and are given equal support and attention.”
Ngoga said Burundian refugees continue to trickle in and, as such, another phase of induction programme is planned so that children do not miss out on education.
Number of Burundian refugees increases
Meanwhile, according to the report from the UN Children’s Fund, first published April 30, the total number of Burundian refugees in Rwanda has increased to 76,603 with about 48,450 of them living in Mahama camp.
The UN Children’s Fund says that cases of severe acute malnutrition among children aged 6-59 months living in the camp continue to decline, with currently 51 children enrolled in treatment programmes.
“There were no new typhoid cases reported in April, due to an effective health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) response,” says UNICEF Rwanda.
It was also noted that the number of unaccompanied children is gradually decreasing as 62 out of 813 unaccompanied children were reunified with their families or relatives in the camp.
. 76,603 Burundian refugees in Rwanda
. 48,450 Burundi refugees hosted at Mahama refugee camp
. 48% of the Burundi refugee are children.