EMINUS ACADEMY & CTEN UGANDA Article by Lea Jovanovic
Over 2.2 million inhabitants from South Sudan have been displaced due to ongoing insecurity and conflict over the last six years, now known as the largest refugee crisis in Africa. As of 2019, over 800,000 South Sudanese Refugees are situated in Uganda. The North West region of Uganda holds the highest concentration of South Sudanese refugees in the districts of Arua, Yumbe, Moyo and Adjumani, with a total population of 739, 417 South Sudanese people. Over 65% of the refugee population is made up children, making the situation known as a children’s crisis.
Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in Uganda, Uganda Refugee Response, 2019. UNHCR.
For children and youth living in refugee settlements, one of the biggest challenges faced is the access to education, as the ratio of students to educational facilities is exceedingly uneven; 100,000 students can be found attending one educational facility in some areas. According to the Community Technology Empowerment Network (www.ctenuganda.org), the creators of the Refugee Information Centre in Rhino refugee camp, the lack of educational facilities in the settlements has forced youth to travel within and through different districts in search of better educational opportunities, only to find themselves in the same situation.
The South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan states that in Uganda, there are continuously low education enrolment and attendance rates for refugee and host community children. 53 percent of the primary aged and 92 percent of the secondary aged children are out of school, with child marriage as one of the largest contributing factors for girls. Children and youth also face financial barriers to accessing government provided education, as it is not affordable to many refugee families.
Since 2018, in an effort to alleviate the barriers to education for youth in this area, UN Habitat in partnership with Eminus Academy, an online educational platform that provides accessible online training for youth, launched a pilot project in Rhino refugee camp, located in the Arua District of Uganda, in an effort to address the lack of education available to youth in this area.
Students studying in Rhino Camp, Uganda.
To date, Eminus Academy has provided approximately 10,000 youth with free online education in the areas of Community Planning and Land Use Development, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Human Culture and Social Development, and Project Management and Mentoring. Currently 2,700 users are enrolled in Eminus courses worldwide.
Eminus Academy’s mission is to provide vocational training globally, focusing on accessible education for youth in developing countries to empower and help them succeed in a globalized world. This has been made possible through partnerships with Eliademy (eliademy.com), a Finnish corporation that has enabled Eminus to reach students around the world through their online learning infrastructure, as well as the University of the Fraser Valley, located in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Western Canada providing expertise along with the necessary tools to design the online curriculums.
Computers are provided by CTEN in the Refugee Information Centre, Rhino Camp.
The curriculums provided through Eminus Academy aim to create educational equality and economic opportunity for all, centralizing its outcomes in conjunction with six of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: Quality Education, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Partnerships for the Goals.
By aligning its courses with the Sustainable Development Goals, students graduating from the courses will indirectly impact the 11 other Development Goals, as their education will provide them with social enterprise skills leading to economic and social growth within their communities.
In March 2019, 8 refugee youth graduated from Eminus Academy’s Social Enterprise course. Currently, 35 youth in Rhino Camp are officially enrolled in the Community Mapping & Digital Storytelling Course, with additional students accessing the course through the engagement of a course facilitator located within the camp. Once completed, the students will possess knowledge to engage their communities in participatory development through the community mapping methods learned.
South Sudanese students who recently completed the Social Enterprise course shared their experiences and outcomes from their studies:
“Am so glad to be among the students for this interesting course where I left the little knowledge of geography in high school. Now I can use the knowledge to develop more. I am ready to learn the new technology from this course.”
“By the end of this course am highly expecting to have gained a lot of skills. These skills will help me as a youth to run a business smoothly and also turn into a successful young entrepreneur who can create more jobs for my fellow youths. Great thanks to all those who made this possible.”
“I took interest in this particular course because I would like to support young people with such knowledge and skills so that they become entrepreneurs of South Sudan instead of seeking for an employment with other institutions which is so hard to get and this intends to frustrate them thus, they become instrument for violence when they are trap into such situations and conditions. This is the course that I have been longing for in order to increase my knowledge into my previous course in Development Studies! I hope I will learn it better so that I can contribute in helping my country through this generation affected by the armed conflict.”
“I am grateful for having being offered this course. I choose to take this course because there is need for development both where I'm living now and even when I return back to South Sudan. I believe that after completing this course, it will positively change my life because of the knowledge and skills attained and I will be a role model to my fellow youths and as well mentor them.”
In order to guarantee the acceptance of their completed education globally, the youth will receive a certificate of completion signed by UN-Habitat and the University of the Fraser Valley. The success of the pilot project in Rhino camp, Arua District proves the opportunity to scale the reach of the program globally to disadvantaged youth, who would also benefit from accessible education.
For more information about Eminus Academy and the pilot project in Rhino Refugee Settlement, please contact Cherie Enns @ firstname.lastname@example.org.