Xavier Project visits Kakuma refugee camp Posted July 30, 2016 by Mary Rowlatt

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At the beginning of July, Xavier Project and Eneza Education staff, in partnership with LWF, visited Kakuma refugee camp – Kenya’s second largest refugee camp situated in the North West. The aim of the trip was to introduce a pilot of the Eneza education mobile revision programme in a number of primary schools at the settlement for free. The pilot was targeted at 500 primary class 8 refugee pupils about to take their KCPE examination to see if the children’s grades improved. If the pilot proves successful, Xavier Project will roll out the software more widely among the camp’s schools.

The Eneza revision tool uses SMS technology as an educational platform and can be used on any mobile phone with SMS functionality. The student signs into Eneza based on their class (primary or secondary), chooses any subject from the approved Kenyan curriculum and then Eneza sends academic quizzes from the Kenyan school syllabus for the students to answer. Eneza shares progress reports with the student, parent and teacher who can check the performance. There is also an ‘ask the teacher’ option allowing the student to ask any academic questions they may have to a live Eneza teacher any time during the day.

Positioned near the Uganda and South Sundan border, the majority of the 250,000 refugees living in Kakuma are from South Sudan and are victims of the civil war and ongoing violence in the world’s youngest country. Kakuma is also home to many Somali, Ethiopian and Great Lakes region refugees. The numbers are set to rise given the uncertainty of the larger Dadaab camp in the North East. Kakuma refugee camp is divided into four camps which differ in age and size. We have started off by providing the Eneza program to students at 5 different primary school across the four camps in the settlement.

During our time in Kakuma we worked hard to build relationships with head teachers, community leaders, schools PTAs and parents of our target schools. It was encouraging to receive so much support and enthusiasm for the program from these groups. As part of our monitoring we recruited four new Xavier Project community staff at each camp who were trained in using Eneza and how to write the monthly reports. Trying to brief, register and mobilise all 500 children on the Eneza platform in 3 days was a challenge which thankfully our community staff supported us with. We will now closely monitor the students’ progress to examine school grade improvements and receive regular feedback on the program from the ground.

Between the work there was some free time to explore the Kakuma area and a time to engage with the various cultures and traditions within the camp. The Turkana people provided an interesting cultural experience with their bright traditional dress with many coloured beads around the women’s necks. Men carried a wooden stick and small stool everywhere they went.

Our visit to Kakuma acted as a catalyst for considering additional ways Xavier Project could be supporting the communities there more widely. Eneza has a teacher training programme which could act as a relevant extension of the Eneza revision tool. There was also a very positive meeting with UNHCR, LWF and the Don Bosco and Vodafone foundation to discuss the potential for setting up a Tamuka hub in Kakuma. These are exciting times for Xavier Project branching out of urban centres into Dadaab and now to Kakuma, ensuring that more refugees have access to good quality education. Watch this space for more updates!