Education Cannot Wait (ECW) announced a US$1 million grant to ensure refugee children and youth arriving from the Central African Republic receive access to quality learning in Cameroon.
Recent estimates indicate that approximately 6,700 refugees (over half of whom are children) from the Central African Republic (CAR) have fled into Cameroon following violence around the December 2020 election. With newly arrived refugees entering Cameroon through various entry points, there is an essential need to identify and document non-registered refugee girls and boys to ensure they can enroll in government-run schools.
School attendance among CAR refugee children has increased in Cameroon over the past years – from 40 per cent in 2014 in primary education to 46 per cent in 2020. Nevertheless, the number of girls going to school has not significantly increased due to socio-cultural barriers. Disability and poverty also keep too many children out of school.
Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait said, “The Government of Cameroon is stepping up efforts to bring these refugee girls and boys into the national education system. With expanded international support, we can help ensure no girl or boy is left behind. We urge world leaders, donors and the private sector to join our movement to support vulnerable children and youth in Cameroon and beyond. Education Cannot Wait urgently appeals to donors for US$400 million so we can deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and leverage the power of education to build a more peaceful, more prosperous world.”
Implemented by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in partnership with the Government of Cameroon, the 12-month ECW-financed first emergency response will provide over 6,000 refugee children and youth (including 3,500 girls, 2,400 boys and 250 children with disabilities), with access to safe learning environments. Over 1,000 host community children and youth will benefit from the new investment.
The new investment will build 10 new classrooms in the village of Nandoungue, where a sizeable number of newly arrived refugees is expected to be transferred. Water and sanitation facilities will be upgraded to ensure girls and boys are able to wash hands and prevent the spread of diseases such as COVID-19. Learning materials, hygiene kits and other school materials will also be provided through the new grant.
To get refugee girls and boys into the classroom, the investment will deploy a mobile registration team to identify, register and provide documentation to all CAR refugee children.
Olivier Guillaume Beer, UNHCR Representative in Cameroon. said, “When refugee girls and boys have access to education, they can contribute meaningfully tomorrow to the society in which they live and to peace between nations. As UNHCR Representative in Cameroon, I want to believe that giving access to education to all refugee children is not a utopia but a possible and realistic dream. Education Cannot Wait’s support contributes to making this dream true.”
With a lack of qualified teachers, the grant provides incentives to recruit and retain new teachers. Teachers will be trained to provide recently arrived refugees, unaccompanied children and survivors of gender-based violence with the psychosocial support they need to learn, grow and thrive.
The response builds on ECW investments in both Cameroon and the Central African Republic. In May 2020, ECW approved a US$1.5 million COVID-19 education in emergencies response in Cameroon. The ongoing investment reaches 3.9 million children and youth. Approximately 900,000 children and youth benefit from an ECW-financed multi-year resilience programme in CAR.