Scholarships have been awarded to 100 refugees by Windle International Uganda to enable them to attend university this year, thanks to the DAFI University Scholarship Programme in Uganda. In partnership with UNHCR and the Office of the Prime Minister, WIU has made the awards for the 24th year running, bringing the total number of refugees supported by the programme to 462 (296 men, 166 women).
The DAFI University Scholarship Programme (Albert Einstein German Academic Initiative) is an initiative of the German government created to provide access to higher education and open doors to self-reliance for young refugees. Started in 1992, the DAFI programme provides scholarships to young refugees to help them access and complete higher education in universities, colleges and polytechnics in their host countries, and in some cases, in the country of origin upon return.
The scholarship covers a range of costs including tuition and study materials, food, transportation and accommodation. It also provides academic preparatory, language and information and communication technology (ICT) courses, as well as psychosocial support, where needed. The comprehensive approach is designed to promote student academic achievement, skills development, wellbeing towards a rich and empowering overall higher education experience. DAFI students also have access to social networking, peer support, community engagement and internship opportunities, and country level DAFI Clubs and alumni networks. [i]
The DAFI University Scholarship Programme in Uganda has since its inception in 1996 benefited over 2,321 refugees, most of whom are now well-placed in their countries of origin, or elsewhere across the globe, making positive contributions to societies. The Programme started with only 08 students enrolled at Ndejje University but has since expanded, with an average of 60 new scholarships available every year.
Addressing the students at the orientation seminar last week, Mr. Emmanuel Curuma, Director of Programmes at Windle International Uganda, said: “University Education is all about choices and I urge you to take this opportunity seriously. There is nothing more capable of transforming lives like Education.” He thanked the UNHCR and the Office of the Prime Minister for the trust and continued support to Windle International Uganda, which has helped over 2,000 refugees become professionals in a variety of careers, and who are now well-placed and making positive contributions all over the world.
Mr. Julius Okello, the UNHCR Assistant Education Officer urged the beneficiaries to fully maximize the opportunity to undertake university education as the world is eager to see the impact of these scholarships to the communities. He noted that even though UNHCR’s support to tertiary education is currently at 0.2%, there is a renewed commitment to secondary and tertiary Education as more and more refugees now face protracted displacement. This will help build more self-reliant youth.
Refugee youth and young adults face many barriers to accessing higher education. From a lack of financial resources, differences in language of instruction, and lack of certificates and recognition of certification, to mobility restrictions and long distances to higher education institutions, these barriers mean only one per cent of refugees worldwide can access higher education. As a consequence, only one per cent of refugees have access to higher education worldwide.[ii]
Patience Atim, Communications Officer-Windle International Uganda