Teachers: the key to better education for South Sudanese refugee children

Hosting more than 1.2 million refugees from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo among others, Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting country on the African continent. About 60% of these refugee arrivals is below 18. In Northwest Uganda, refugees from South Sudan were welcomed and hosted by the Ugandan people. The refugees received small pieces of land and are largely able to look after themselves. As the refugees live among the Ugandan host communities, they also send their children to Ugandan schools.

The schools in Uganda struggle to cope with the enormous increase of pupils. Head teacher of the Emmanuel Primary school Mr. Hopine explains: ‘’We had only 16 teachers to teach about 2,350 pupils. This led to a heavy workload for all teachers. It was no longer possible to teach or learn in an effective way.

We had only 16 teachers to teach about 2,350 pupils.

Due to the inadequate number of teachers, some lessons were neglected and therefore not even taught. We had to skip Music Dance and Drama (MDD) and Arts and Craft for example. I felt sorry about it, because these lessons normally contribute a great deal to the pupils’ mental and physical development. As a result, our pupils performed below average.”

The number of teachers almost doubled

Supported by Education Cannot Wait, ZOA decided to respond to the needs of the teachers and children with local partner PALM Corps. The number of teachers almost doubled. The school was assisted with 13 additional teachers, and 4 teaching assistants. Together with PALM Corps, ZOA was also able to provide training on inclusive education, continuous professional development planning and child safeguarding.

Story continues below the photo of Mr. Hopine.


Mr. Hophine explains that the school has experienced a great improvement since the project started. “The new teachers came to this school with new skills and energy to the school. They also proved to be committed to their work. For instance, they have revived the Agriculture club in the school and also improved our school compound.”

I already see that the performance of our students improves. Many pupils even perform above the average mark set.”

The encouraged the headmaster to keep various records. ”We improved our financial and curriculum management, we register the number of children with disabilities in school and we administrate referrals cases. The teachers that joined our team also support the teaching assistants and share knowledge about in schemes of work, lesson plans and in areas such as Art and Crafts, Music Dance and Drama. I already see that the performance of our students improves. Many pupils even perform above the average mark set.”

Working in partnerships 

ZOA implements this project with funding from Education Cannot Wait and through the Uganda Education Consortium. Education Cannot Wait is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises to ensure that every crisis-affected child and young person is in school and learning. The Uganda Education Consortium is a coalition made up of non-governmental organisations and UN agencies to support the implementation of the Education Response Plan through a harmonised and collaborative approach. The Education Consortium Management Unit is hosted by Save the Children.

ZOA supports the global movement #Act4Education to ensure children living in crisis can access education.

Click here to read more about ZOA’s programme in Uganda.