Supporting Refugee Learners Transition to Uganda’s Education System Through Bridging Curriculum

Background

Uganda has been hosting a significant number of refugees from neighbouring countries, including South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and others. To support refugee learners and help them access education and integrate into the Ugandan system, Windle International Uganda the lead UNHCR partner for education implements a bridging program. The program aims to address the educational needs and challenges that refugee learners face, such as language barriers, trauma, and disrupted education. It helps refugees transition from their previous educational experiences, which may have been disrupted due to conflict or displacement, to the educational system of Uganda. This involves language acquisition, academic catch-up, and cultural orientation.

What is bridging curriculum?

A “bridging curriculum” is an educational program or set of courses designed to help individuals transition from one educational level to another or from one educational system to another. In the context of refugee education, “bridging” typically refers to programs or initiatives that help refugee students overcome educational barriers and transition into the host country’s education system. The program is designed to bridge the gap between the education that refugee students may have received in their home countries or during displacement and the educational standards and requirements of the host country.

The primary goal of a bridging curriculum is to fill gaps in knowledge and skills to ensure a smooth transition. It is tailored to the specific needs of the target population, considering factors such as language proficiency, prior educational experiences, and academic goals. It involves a combination of coursework, tutoring, support services, and assessments to ensure that individuals are adequately prepared for their next educational or career step.

Key aspects of the WIU bridging program for refugee learners in Uganda

  • Language Acquisition: Many refugee learners arrive in Uganda with limited knowledge of the official language (English) used in Ugandan schools. WIU bridging program often includes language acquisition courses to help students become proficient in English. This is crucial for their successful integration into the Ugandan education system.
  • Accelerated Learning: To catch up with their peers in the host communities and make up for the lost educational time, refugee students are supported through the Accelerated Education Program (AEP). The program condenses the curriculum and provides extra support to help students quickly reach the appropriate grade level.
  • Equivalency Programs: For older refugee learners who may not have completed their basic education, WIU ensures that they attain equivalency programs to allow them earn certificates or diplomas that are equivalent to the formal education system. These programs can provide skills and knowledge for future employment opportunities. This includes equating of their academic documents.
  • Psycho-Social Support: Many refugee students have experienced trauma and disruptions to their education, WIU bridging program provides psycho-social support and counselling to help students cope with their experiences and create a safe supportive learning environment.
  • Vocational Training: WIU also offers vocational training and skills development to prepare refugee learners for the job market. This helps them become self-reliant and contribute to their communities.
  • Inclusive Education: WIU ensures that children with disabilities and special needs among refugee learners are not left behind. Inclusive education approaches are integrated into the school program to accommodate the diverse needs of all students.
  • Integration and Coexistence: WIU conducts activities and initiatives that promote interaction and understanding between different groups. This is through sports, music, dance and drama among other activities. These foster social cohesion and integration between refugee students and the host community.

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