Kenya: JRS launches new certificate programme for refugees in Kakuma
28 February 2011

Refugee students at the newly equipped JRS education centre in Kakuma. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
For some, this is their first chance to acquire professional training in the area of social service.
Kakuma, 28 February 2011 – Refugees in Kakuma refugee camp are now able to study for a certificate in social services, after JRS launched its first certificate programme as part of a higher education initiative.

The first course is in the area of psychosocial case management and was launched last week. Nineteen refugees and two host community members will spend 15 weeks learning about different aspects of providing social services to vulnerable persons in their communities. 

At the end of the course, participants who successfully fulfill all requirements will gain a continuing education Certificate in Psychosocial Case Management.

The course is the first launched within the Community Service Learning Track (CSLT) which is part of the new distance education initiative Jesuit Commons – Higher Education at the Margins (JC-HEM) in Kakuma refugee camp. More courses in different fields will follow soon. 

Developed between the US and Kenya

The course was developed in collaboration between Fordham University, a Jesuit university based in New York City, and JRS in Kakuma. Associate Professor at Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service, Paul DuongTran, Ph.D., and several masters’ level and doctoral students volunteered their time and expertise to gather course materials. JRS adapted these materials to design lesson plans relevant to the participants in Kakuma.

The course consists of 10 hours a week of instruction in Kakuma and uses online content such as videos that can be accessed thanks to the computer equipment and internet connection that were installed at the camp as part of the JC-HEM initiative. 

In the future, it is envisioned that students from Kakuma will be able to connect online with students from the US and other locations participating in the JC-HEM project.

Selecting the first students

The group of students engaged in this new learning opportunity was chosen from those who serve their communities as volunteers in the refugee camp or work with local organisations in the host community. For some, this is their first chance to acquire professional training in the area of social service. 

“I am very excited for this course and the cohort of students,” said Gretchen Emick, CSLT facilitator in Kakuma. “I truly believe that the psychosocial case management course can produce individuals equipped to serve those living in Kakuma. Their dedication to learning coupled with the resources provided through this partnership makes me confident that they will use the skills acquired in this course for years to come,” she added.

Distance education for refugees in three countries

The CSLT is part of a larger JC-HEM project that provides long-distance computer based education to refugees in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, Dzaleka refugee camp, Malawi and to urban refugees in Allepo, Syria. 

The project encompasses two broad areas – a diploma in liberal studies which is a fully accredited tertiary degree open to refugees in Kakuma and Dzaleka; and the CSLTs which provide shorter professional development courses in areas directly applicable to the lives of refugees and host community members in these three locations. 

JRS has been present in Kakuma refugee camp, north-western Kenya since 1994. The camp currently hosts more than 80,000 refugees of which majority are Somalis.

Press Contact Information
Angelika Mendes
+254 20 3874152