Kenya: new certificate programme in Kakuma refugee camp
12 March 2011

Refugee students at the newly equipped JRS education centre in Kakuma, northwestern Kenya (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
For some, this is their first chance to acquire professional training in the area of social service.
Kakuma, 7 March 2011 – Refugees in Kakuma refugee camp are now able to study for a certificate in social services after JRS launched its first certificate programme as part of a higher education initiative.

The first course, launched two weeks ago, is in the area of psychosocial case management. Nineteen refugees and two host community members will spend 15 weeks learning about different aspects of providing social services to vulnerable persons in their communities.

At the end of the course, participants who successfully fulfil all requirements will gain a continuing education certificate in Psychosocial Case Management.

The course is the first launched within the Community Service Learning Track (CSLT) which is part of the new distance education initiative Jesuit Commons – Higher Education at the Margins (JC-HEM) and the Jesuit Refugee Service in Kakuma refugee camp. More courses in different fields will follow soon.

Developed between the US and Kenya

The course was developed in cooperation with Fordham University, a Jesuit university based in New York City, and JRS in Kakuma. Associate Professor at Fordham's Graduate School of Social Service, Paul Duong Tran PhD, and several masters' level and doctoral students volunteered their time and expertise to gather course materials. JRS adapted these materials to design lesson plans relevant to the participants in Kakuma.

The course consists of 10 hours of instruction a week in Kakuma. As a part of the initiative, new computer equipment and internet connection were installed at the camp allowing courses to integrate online content such as videos into their curriculum.

In the future, it is envisioned that students from Kakuma will be able to connect online with students from the US and other locations participating in the JC-HEM project.

Selecting the first students

The group of students engaged in this new learning opportunity were chosen from those who have served their communities as volunteers in the camp or have worked with local organisations in the host community. For some, this is their first chance to acquire professional training in the area of social service.

"I am very excited for this course and the cohort of students. I truly believe that the psychosocial case management course can produce individuals equipped to serve those living in Kakuma. Their dedication to learning coupled with the resources provided through this partnership makes me confident that they will use the skills acquired in this course for years to come", said Gretchen Emick, CSLT facilitator in Kakuma.

Distance education for refugees in three countries

The CSLT is part of a larger JC-HEM project that provides long-distance computer based education to refugees in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, Dzaleka refugee camp, Malawi and to urban refugees in Allepo, Syria.

The project encompasses two broad areas – a diploma in liberal studies which is a fully accredited tertiary degree open to refugees in Kakuma and Dzaleka; and the CSLTs which provide shorter professional development courses in areas directly applicable to the lives of refugees and host community members in these three locations.

JRS has been present in Kakuma refugee camp, northwestern Kenya since 1994. The camp currently hosts more than 80,000 refugees of whom the majority are Somalis

Press Contact Information
James Stapleton
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