West Nile region has been host to a large number of refugees from South Sudan since 1990. Arua district in West Nile sub-region, Rhino Camp refugee settlement is host to 164,468 South Sudanese refugees. It is the biggest and oldest refugee settlement in Arua District that has never closed since it was opened in the 1990s for South Sudanese and Congolese refugees, In 2004 when most South Sudanese refugees were repatriated, Some of them voluntarily prefered to stay in the settlement. Therefore, Rhino camp is a “permanent” settlement. The region was set back by the political conflict in the north during the period from 1979 – 1986. These years of conflict led to significant population displacement, Socioeconomic losses, a breakdown in social Infrastructure, Severely weakened governance structures and service delivery, and community and household asset depletion.
West Nile is a patriarchal society in which women and girls are regarded as inferior. Culturally, once girls have matured, they are expected to marry and go away to their husbands’ families. Therefore, institutional structures such as family and schools put a low value on educating girls. Furthermore, there is an unequal gender division of labour for women and girls that burdens them with most of the domestic chores in homes taking much of their time denying them the opportunity to participate in public activities.
The gender inequalities pervading society are usually carried into the school environment (FAWE, 2005). This is evident in school processes such as teacher-learner interactions, school curriculum and school management and its response to girls needs.
School systems, are dominated by gender stereotypes and guide the treatment, expected behaviour and task allocation. girls are less likely to receive the full attention of teachers in the classroom, which indirectly makes them take a back seat in the classroom activity. Girls tend to be directed at learning and reinforcing femininity, thereby learning to be submissive and passive instead of being independent and thoughtful.
As a result, the schools are largely unable to provide a gender-responsive environment for effective teaching and learning to take place.
The gender situation for schools in west Nile is worsened by the influx od estimated 727,120 refugees from South Sudan. 86% of them are women and 65% of children. Classrooms are crowded and instructional materials are inadequate.
According to the draft education response plan for refugees in Uganda, 51% of the refugee children were out of school by 2017. The remaining 49% enrol in schools in and around the settlement and study together with children of host communities.
In a bid to improve the school environment for girls and to change attitudes and behaviour in the communities in order to break down the barriers hindering girls to enter and finish primary education. PALM Corps in conjunction with Volkshilfe secured three-year funding to support education initiatives in Rhino camp refugee settlement in Arua District.
“The overall goal of the project is to contribute to gender equality in education for girls among refugee and their host communities in Northern Uganda”
The purpose of the project is to improve access to and quality education of primary education for girls from refugee and host Communities in 4 primary schools in Rhino camp refugee settlement in Northern Uganda
- Improved governance and school facilities of 4 primary schools in Rhino camp refugee settlement.
- Improved parenting skills and attitude on girl child education of 800 parents/Guardians
- Increased awareness about girls rights to education, SRHR and SGBV at community and school level.
- At least 20 girl dropouts are reintegrated in school