Relief for Burundi refugee Children as Government Offers 81 classrooms
Children living in Mahama refugee camp – home to about 53,000 of Burundian refugees, could be all smiles.
Rwanda government, through Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR), handed over 81 classroom blocks to facilitate primary education for about 10,000 Burundian children living in Mahama refugee camp.
Established on 40 hectares, Mahama refugee camp in Kirehe, Eastern province is the biggest.
About 100,000 Burundian refugees are living in Rwanda, after fleeing political turmoil sparked by President Nkurunziza’s bid for the third term.
Following the inauguration of two health facilities in January this year, Rwanda has embarked on education for all – including those living in refugee camps.
The completion of 81 classrooms adds up to more than 100 classrooms put in place for accommodating over 10,000 children in need of primary education at Mahama refugee camp.
Ngoga Aristarque, an official in charge of charge of Mahama refugee camp, stressed that refugees’ community do not take education as paramount.
He said they have embarked on a massive campaign to mobilise refugees to take their children to school.
“Those (parents) who will object the move will face lenient slaps on the wrist,” Ngoga said.
During the opening ceremony, Ngoga reminded refugees’ community that on their return to their homeland, they will leave behind all except knowledge and skills benefited from school which will help them back home.
The number of refugee children attending primary school in the camp is very low. In this respect, local government has launched a campaign meant at mobilizing more children to enroll in primary education.
“Local leadership is responsible for education of children. We will pursue whoever does not take his/her child to school…we want education for all,” said Geraldine Mukandarikanguye, Kirehe District vice Mayor in charge of social affairs.
The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which supports Rwanda’s education sector especially refugees, pledged to provide school materials needed for the quality education.
Meanwhile, Burundian refugees are weighing heavily on Rwanda. Last year alone, the country spent over $94 million on them, where every Burundian refugee in the country was entitled to $950 annually or $2.6 per day.
This is $0.4 higher than what an average Rwandan spends.
Burundi’s third term unrest killed over 400 people while nearly 400,000 others were pushed out of the country, according to statistics released by UNCHR this month.