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Giving back to the host society

Fatima is originally from the town of Luk, in Somalia, across the border from Ethiopia. Now, she studies with her Ethiopian neighbours. Since 2016, Ethiopia has focused on integrating refugees in the country and offering them opportunities for establishing a new home. Denmark supports the refugees’ access to education at primary, secondary and tertiary level.    

Fatima Shane Yesuf at the Teachers Training College in Dollo Ado

Giving back to the host society

Fatima Shane Yesuf is a third-year student at the Teachers Training College in Dollo Ado. The Ethiopian town borders Somalia to the south east and Kenya to the south. The sand-coloured brick building humming of eager voices from the students.

Fatima is originally from the town of Luk, in Somalia, across the border from Ethiopia. She came to Ethiopia at the age of three in 2001 when her parents fled to escape the conflict in southern Somalia. She has no recollection of her time in Somalia.  Now, she studies with her Ethiopians neighbours.

“We study and eat together, we share the same dormitory, we speak the same language, and we share the same culture,” says Fatima “I am a refugee, but I mingle with students from my host community and from the refugee camps,” she says happily, as she stands up straight and pulls her shoulders back.  

Young and happy teachers

“I am happy. I am ready to share the knowledge I have acquired during my education in the country I emigrated to,”  says Fatima enthusiatically.

Fatima grew up in the Bokolmayo refugee camp, 90 km from Dollo Ado. The camp hosts approximately 26,000 refugees, 65 % of whom are children and youth. Children play noisily outside the primary and secondary schools in the camp, at a safe distance from the violence their parents escaped.  

The camp offers primary and secondary education. In the Bokolmayo camp primary schools, the student-teacher ratio can be 56:1. As school enrolment rate increases, so does the demand for teachers.

The vicinity of Dollo Ado is home to five refugee camps, scattered along the flat landscape that offers little shelter from the strong winds sweeping across the terrain. The host communities are among the poorest in Ethiopia and the influx of refugees over the past 20 to 25 years has caused a huge increase in the population. 

Motivation through education

Fatima is one of the 20 graduates in the first batch of students, who come from both the host communities and the refugee communities. Fatima and her fellow students are ready to pay back the education system they come from. She is looking forward to starting her first job as a teacher.

At the Dollo Ado Teachers Training College, 10 of the 478 second and third-year students studying to be teachers are now Somali refugees, says dean Mohamed Omer Malin. Due to the pandemic, the Teachers Training College has not taken any first-year students, but he expects to be able to receive new students by the start of the school year. “When graduates are hired as teachers in the primary schools in the camps, it will motivate more refugees to study to become teachers”. Dean Malin has bright hopes for the future and the college has begun to expand its facilities to accommodate the increase in enrolment.

Ethiopia has had an open-door policy towards refugees and is currently hosting around 816,000 refugees from neighbouring Somalia, Eritrea, and South Sudan due to protracted conflicts. Ethiopia is currently hosting one of Africa’s largest refugee populations.

Since 2016, Ethiopia has focused on integrating refugees in the country and offering them opportunities for establishing a new home. Denmark supports the refugees’ access to education at primary, secondary and tertiary level.    

Fostering role models

“There is no difference in knowledge or motivation between trainees from the camps and those from the host communities. In the last group, the second-best graduate was a young woman who had grown up in a camp,” explains the dean. In Malin’s view, there is a lot of capacity and interest in education among the refugees.

Refugees stay in the camps for years and sometimes for generations. The opportunity to enter the education system gives them hope for a better future for themselves and their family. Fatima and her fellow studies from the refugee camps and the host communities are free to apply for work inside the camps as well as outside the camps.

Across the five refugee camps in Dollo Ado, the number of refugee students enrolled in tertiary education increases. During the 2019/2020 academic year, the 1,632 refugees were enrolled in tertiary education out of which 680 continue their studies supported by the contribution from the Government of Denmark. Denmark has supported the refugees’ education through UNHCR.

Fatima says she is happy that she will be able to contribute to society while she at the same time providing for her own family. She is aware that she is a role model and knows that when she gets a job, “those following in my footsteps will be highly motivated.”

Comprehensive Refugees Response Framework
In 2016, the international society made a commitment to support countries hosting refugees. Countries hosting refugees are better supported by international donors and refugees areincluded in the communities on their arrival in the country. The aim is to create sustainable solutions for refugees and the host communities by supporting both groups to access basic services and rights. Ethiopia has made nine pledges for the betterment for refugees under the frame of CRRF. One of the pledges focus on education and aim to increase the refugees’ enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary education. Ethiopia is primarily hosting refugees from South Sudan, Eritrea, and Somaliland.