Fulfilling Potential of Refugee Children in South Africa
Since June this year, we have been working with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in South Africa to give refugee children access to quality education and increased protection.
South Africa has been one of the most affected countries by the pandemic, which has caused an estimated 750,000 children in the country to drop out of school since it began. South Africa is also the host country of more than 70,000 refugees who face challenges accessing education which include language barriers and prohibitively expensive school fees.
JRS is providing daily after-school classes to help students with homework and basic learning supplies for small groups of 20-30 children. JRS tells us that these homework classes have made a huge difference in the lives of learners as well as their parents since many of the parents are not fluent in English or are working during the day, so the homework assistance has visibly eased the pressure on them.
JRS is also running activities during the holidays, including a day on menstrual health and teenage pregnancies where girls received 4 months’ supply of sanitary products. During the next school year starting in January, more than 200 students at Primary, Secondary and Special Education and Learning Needs (SELN) schools will be provided with school learning materials, uniforms and contributions towards their school fees as well as transport to school.
Joseph (9) from the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the learners benefitting from JRS’ education programme. Joseph never attended school previously because his parents did not have the correct documents to enroll him. Since July, he has been attending the after-school classes where he has learnt basic reading, and JRS staff also met with his parents who were advised on how to apply for documentation that will enable their son to attend school. He religiously attends classes, has grown in confidence and is showing an aptitude for mathematics. His parents recently informed JRS that he will begin primary school in January 2022.