By CGN Reporter
The construction of the Sh1.5 billion Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (Mmust) Turkana West University College at Kakuma refugee camp has begun.
Kakuma, the largest refugee camp in the country has over 194,000 refugees but a paltry 3 per cent of the population has formal education according to MMUST coordinator for Kakuma Centre for Refugee Studies, Ronald Michieka.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC), MMUST, Danish Refugee Council, Lutheran World and the County Government of Turkana are raising money towards the erection of the university.
This is to ensure that the construction does not stop on the way.
Already, phase one for the construction of the university was commissioned yesterday by Turkana deputy governor Peter Lotethiro.
They are also partnering other institutions like the University of Geneva and Columbia University, Windle Trust Kenya and Jesuit Refugee Services to raise the money needed.
In an interview with the County Guardian News, Dr Bob Mbori, MMUST director of Public Communications said the County Government of Turkana has already given 100 acres of land where construction for administration and tuition block has started.
Dr Mbori said Turkana West University Campus will be will be a constituent college of MMUST once gazetted and the over 1,000 students are expected to be admitted next year.
MMUST has a satellite campus inside Kakuma refugee camp and recently, they graduated over 220 refugees with diplomas and certificates in primary education and social work.
During the ground breaking ceremony, UNHRC Country Representative Raouf Mazou said the university will offer degree and diploma programs to the refugees and the local community.
Mr Raouf said the courses will be organized and taught by Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, which has been offering diploma and certificate programs at MMUST Kakuma refugee campus.
“The collaboration between international and local universities will make higher education accessible and affordable to more refugees and the natives,” Mr Raouf said.
MMUST Chancellor Dr Peter Muthoka said they will work with UNHCR and education partners to ensure refugees at Kakuma access affordable education.
The institutions Vice Chancellor Prof Fredrick Otieno they are putting up two tuition blocks, a library that will also be accessed by the local community, engineering laboratories for Mining and Oil exploration courses among others.
“This is a county endowed with mineral resources, the courses are tailor made to ensure once we release the graduands to the market, they will get jobs immediately around,” said Prof Otieno.
“Only one percent of refugees attain university education and tertiary education as compared to the global average of 34 per cent. MMUST is committed to close the gap by bringing education near to the refugees,” he said.
MMUST has another constituent college in Lodwar town, Turkana University College which is 120km away from Kakuma refugee campus.
The university has been having a satellite campus inside the refugee camp since 2015 and a week ago they graduated the first batch of over 220 refugees with diplomas and certificate courses in three disciplines.
According to MMUST deputy vice chancellor for Academics and Students Affairs Prof Josephine Ngaira, the over 220 graduands took certificate courses in Teacher Education, Social Work and Community Development and Community Health and Development.
Prof Ngaira said other graduands did Diploma courses in Criminology and Criminal Studies and Community Health, Primary Education and Diploma in Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE).
She said the courses were tailor-made for the refugees needs, adding the courses are for immediate value to them.
“It’s difficult to get teachers at refugee camps. The lecturers at Kakuma refugee campus sacrificed a lot by leaving their families behind to go a hardship place and equip the refugees with knowledge and skills,” Ms Ngaira said.
On the other hand, UNHCR estimates that more than 3.5million refugee children aged 5-17 years do not have formal education.
UNHCR has 17.2million refugees under their care where a half of them are children.
UNHCR report shows that children and docents out of school are located in Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey.
In Kenya, there are two main refugee camps at Daadab that hosts over 320,000 refugees and Kakuma that has 194,000 refugees.