SCHOLARSHIP MANAGEMENT was actually the first program Windle Uganda began with in 1996, it is now the second largest program and has numerous scholarship opportunities for both refugees and members of the host communities. Windle scholarships starts from primary all the way to tertiary education. Post graduate university scholarships are offered outside Uganda while the rest of the scholarships are offered within Uganda only.

Higher education is a priority for both UNHCR and Windle International Uganda outlined in the Education Strategy 2018-2022, forming an integral part of protection and solutions mandate for both partners. Education nurtures a generation of future change-makers that can take the lead in identifying solutions to refugee situations. Windle Uganda currently manages 6 scholarship programs.

Below are the different programs we manage under scholarships:

1. DAFI Scholarship Program

DAFI graduates from Nkumba University pose for a picture after their graduation ceremony. Photo by WIU

WIU and UNHCR’s higher education scholarship program, best known by its acronym DAFI, plays an integral role in enabling refugees across Uganda and the world to access higher education. Since its inception in 1997, the DAFI program has grown considerably, enabling over 2,321 refugee students to study at universities and colleges from across Uganda and other parts of the world.

The DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund) which is funded by the German Government has been implemented by WIU in partnership with UNHCR for 25 years now. It started with only 08 students enrolled at Ndejje University, the program has since expanded to about 100 new scholarships available every year, depending on funding.

The DAFI program enables young refugees to continue post-secondary education and motivates refugee and conflict affected children to stay in school and succeed academically. For students and graduates, the DAFI program serves as a foundation for social and professional development, allowing them to build careers in competitive fields of employment. The social returns of the DAFI program exceed investment at the individual level. Highly educated refugees reduce economic and psychological dependence of the whole communities in asylum, improving their self-reliance and preparing them for durable solutions.

The strategic priorities of Windle International Uganda and UNHCR through DAFI program are to:

  • Promote self-reliance and empowerment of the sponsored student and his/her family with the skills needed for gainful employment;
  • Develop qualified human resources and build the capacity and leadership of talented refugees and war affected persons in order to contribute to the process of reintegration in the home country upon repatriation;
  • Contribute to the refugee community pending a durable solution or repatriation (many graduates work in refugee camps, particularly as teachers and community workers);
  • Facilitate integration, temporary or permanent, and contribute skills to the host country, if repatriation is not or not yet possible;
  • Provide a role model for other refugee students, particularly for girls to advance their education and demonstrate benefits of education.

2. The Postgraduate Program

Ismail, a postgraduate program beneficiary at his university where he obtained his Masters degree.

The postgraduate program started in 1997 targeting refugee and from 2009 the Northern/Eastern/Karamoja regions of Uganda that were affected by LRA insurgency.  The Program has supported over 100 Students to pursue Masters’ degree programs in the United Kingdom, to develop further technical expertise and professional skills to strengthen institutions, diminish gender-based inequalities and reduce the risks of social division.

3. Scholarships for Persons with Special Needs(PSNs)  And Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs)

PSNs in Kinyinya School for the Deaf located in Kyegegwa District. Photo by WIU

Children with learning disabilities are often neglected and looked down upon by the society. They often receive negative feedback from schools and hence refuse to develop positive cognitions to the outside world. It is therefore not easy for children with any kind of disability, to keep at pace with the learning process of children, who do not have special needs. This is very wrong. As humans, it is their basic right to an equal opportunity of receiving education. They have the right to live a fulfilling life, exploring its fullest potential.

WIU with support from UNHCR offers scholarships to PSNs and OVCs, to access Secondary Education in the settlements and specialized Primary Education in special needs schools outside the settlements.

Currently over 1732 OVCs and 381 PSNs are supported.

4. The Student Refugee Program (Canada)

The inaugural cohort of the SRP program in a photo moment with the Minister for Relief Disaster Preparedness and Refugees and WIU Senior Management Staff ahead of their travel to Canada in August 2019. Photo by WIU

Windle International Uganda in partnership with World University Services Canada(WUSC) is implementing the Student Refugee Program(SRP) in Uganda aimed at providing young refugee students’ access to quality higher Education and resettlement in Canada.

The Student Refugee Program provides young refugees with life-changing opportunities to continue their education on Canadian campuses and build a better future for themselves and their families.

The SRP is a unique program that combines resettlement to Canada with access to post-secondary education for young refugees. It is a Canadian government program managed by WUSC, a leading Canadian Education INGO.

The Program was launched in Uganda in August 2019 and has since taken on a total of 58 students, who have benefited from the program and resettled in Canada.  The first Cohort of 23 students (17 Male & 6 Female) left for Canada in August 2019, the second cohort consists of 35 students (21 Male & 14 Female), out of which 24 students (17 Male & 12 Female) received placement letters in and left for Canada between December 2020 – January 2021. The remaining 5 students (of the 24 students) are set to leave between August – September 2021 as they wait for the COVID19 restrictions to ease and the remaining 6 students (out of the 35 students) are still on the waiting list as they wait for sponsorship from WUSC.

Going beyond resettlement, the SRP also provides an innovative pathway to integration for young refugees. A 2007 study found that 97 percent of sponsored students had completed or were in the process of completing their post-secondary program with many intending to further their education. The vast majority – 85 percent – had found work in their chosen fields after graduation.

The impact of this program has a ripple effect on the students’ families and communities. By providing refugee youth with opportunities to continue their education, the program also reignites their families’ hopes for the future through equipping their children with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to build a brighter future for themselves and their families. Such opportunities also encourage young refugees to stay in a primary and secondary school in hopes of applying for the Student Refugee Program upon graduation.[i]