Education as a way forward: Refugee youth and their initiatives in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Uganda
SWSD 2018: Social Work, Education and Social Development - ENVIRONMENTAL AND COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY | HUMAN SOLUTIONS IN EVOLVING SOCIETIES
Refugee youth and children represent over 60% of the refugee population in Uganda (UNHCR, 2017) . The refugee policies in Uganda are designed specifically for increasing self-sustainability and self-reliance, therefore reducing dependency on humanitarian aid and activating empowerment (Svedberg, 2014). Education has an essential role in this process and it is acknowledged both by aid workers and refugees as a major tool in increasing wellbeing, development, self-empowerment, self-reliance as it strengthens both individuals and communities. However, due to limited facilities, resources and limitations within the environment and overall perspective of refugee camps (Agier, 2011), access to education for children, both in public and private sectors is limited. Therefore, high numbers of children are out of school due to the context, family situations, poverty, access and potentially cultural factors. The following study incorporates data drawn from the work with youth in Nakivale refugee settlement with a focus on youth initiatives as a way of self-sustainability and the need for education. Using a qualitative methodology through participatory observations and in-depth interviews held with refugee youth and professionals, the aspect of self-reliance developed through education has been analyzed. The findings show that both the need for knowledge, education, skills and access to resources represent major factors in order to become self-reliant and develop their communities. Educated youth and those being exposed and engaged in trainings on entrepreneurship, life-skills and other leadership and educative activities, developed high potential in becoming resources for their communities and being initiators of projects, ideas and sustainable actions. Youth groups are developing informal learning centres, art centres and entrepreneurship initiatives responding to their needs and addressing issues within their communities, decreasing the dependency from aid organizations. Therefore, facilitating the access to education and literacy, positively impacts the communities within the refugee settlement.