Community Learning Hubs for Refugees

The teacher training Avonbrook has supported in recent years, which is still on-going, is part of Xavier Project’s Education Community Hub model, and forms one of the learning packages. Community members have been playing the role of teachers, even when not qualified due to the shortage of formally trained professionals. The training Xavier Project provide has covered basic pedagogy but also created layers of pastoral support for teachers who have an unimaginably challenging job.

Avonbrook’s grant in 2019, the largest single grant we have ever made, has bolstered Xavier Project’s ability to provide:

  • capacity building for Xavier Project’s local partner, L’Africana
  • on-going teacher training for community educators
  • consultation in the implementation of “GCSE for refugees”
  • day to day running costs to cover the two-year pilot while L’Africana get closer to financial sustainability

Education in Emergencies Course

In 2016, Avonbrook made a grant to Xavier Project for a pioneering project that sought to train refugees in teaching, both their fellow refugees but also to be used in either their home or host country.

Currently it is not possible for refugees to become full-time qualified teachers employed by the Teachers Service Commission in Kenya. Xavier Project is working to address this policy, along with other partners. However, it is possible for refugees to learn pedagogical skills that will help them deliver basic education in emergency settings. This is vital with the overcrowding of schools in refugee camps and the lack of access to any school for the majority of refugee children. The shortage of teachers in North Eastern Kenya is largely down to the insecurity seen in the region.

The Government of Kenya and UNHCR facilitated a voluntary repatriation programme for Somali refugees living in Kenya. While a large number returned, the education opportunities for returning refugee children have largely been neglected. Returning refugees with a certificate in Education in Emergencies can be key actors in addressing this problem and reinvigorating the education sector in Somalia.

The course will be delivered over a period of a year at the University of Nairobi (UoN). The curriculum has been developed by pedagogy specialists at UoN and qualified teachers from within the Xavier Project staff team. The course will cover instructional methods, curriculum development, administration and psychology in education in emergencies. Content will also be based on subjects taught in the Kenyan public school curriculum. One whole term of teaching practice will be conducted.

From Xavier Project’s original proposal

Therefore, Xavier Project proposed that 20 refugees in Kenya complete a course in education in emergencies provided by the University of Nairobi in partnership with Xavier Project. Avonbrook agreed to fund this pioneering project.

Teacher Training Programme

There are over 8,000 refugee students in primary school and almost 5,000 in secondary school in Nairobi.

Xavier Project sought funding from Avonbrook to train professional teachers in Nairobi, Kenya on refugee issues, positive discipline and counselling. In collaboration with UNHCR and other refugee agencies, Xavier Project drew up best practice packages that informed future training sessions both in Nairobi and across the country.

The programme trained teachers to understand their students’ backgrounds and enable them to improve their students’ performance and well-being. The programme took the form of a series of workshops in refugee-populated schools with the key teachers from each school.

Other NGOs have carried out various trainings in the last few years for teachers, but there has been no co- ordinated approach between the agencies.

As a result, the Xavier Project formulated a five-workshop programme that was conducted over the period of a month in each target school. The schools were selected for their high populations of refugees. Xavier Project revisited each school one year later for a refresher session and to monitor the success of the workshops.

Throughout the two year period, Xavier Project and other NGOs conducting similar trainings used their experience to draw up a package of best practice.