In January 2017, Refugepoint received a grant from the IKEA Foundation that launched our Secondary Education Scholarship Program. The scholarship program covered school fees and supplies such as uniforms, bags, and books for each of the students selected. In order to assist more of our clients’ children, we chose day schools for the majority of children, which are more affordable than boarding schools.
This program started with 28 students, some of whom had stayed at home for two years after taking their primary exams due to a lack of funding for fees and materials. Seventeen students from our initial cohort graduated from high school in April 2021. Through this scholarship program, RefugePoint has supported 58 students to access their secondary school education. We have worked with roughly 30 schools across four counties in Kenya during the program’s implementation.
Part of the program is training sessions that equip students with life skills to help them overcome challenges and navigate their teenage years. Students also share learning resources with one another—supporting their peers to succeed.
Although we’ve had great success, we have also encountered some challenges. Recently, ten students were resettled to a third country before completing their secondary education. Our education officer was not informed about these departures, which prevented them from making a plan with the student. We also experience some behavioral challenges, for example, refusing to attend school, disappearing for days at a time, disobeying parents, etc., which were remedied through engaging these students in counseling.
The pandemic disrupted the program in 2020, forcing our students to stay home for most of the year. Of course, the time spent at home has had a significant impact on students’ coursework. To help our students adapt to the changing learning landscape, we formed a WhatsApp platform to share information regarding COVID-19 and virtual learning resources. RefugePoint also provided smartphones to some parents, allowing the students to access virtual learning.
Through this scholarship program, these students have a chance to realize their dreams. The support afforded to the families helps to bolster their self-reliance. The education program has offered vocational skills training scholarships for the past three years and has supported approximately 50 students to get the skills they needed to join the workforce.