Gender and Access to Higher Education among Refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma Kenya: Challenges and Possible Interventions
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Education plays a critical role in rebuilding societies torn apart by conflicts and violence that are often driven by socio-economic injustices and political differences. This makes people both young and old flee their homes and countries to seek refuge in other places ending up in refugee camps. While children in refugee camps are able to access some formof education at lower levels of learning, more male youth than their female counterparts tend to seek post-basic education outside the confines of refugee camps. Statistics show an increase of youth attending secondary school from 4% in 2011 to 10% in 2017. However, there were fewer young women than men accessing higher education in 2016, thus creating a gender disparity in favour of men with thirteen out of 91 students enrolled in tertiary education being female while 78 were males. This article, therefore, explores the challenges experienced in accessing higher education by both female and male refugees, as well as provides suggestions on enhancing gender equity in participating in higher education. The article is informed by findings from a desk review on the implementation of the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) in Dadaab and the Quality Secondary Education in Emergencies (QSEE) in Kakuma. The article further utilises findings from responses to an unstructured questionnaire that was administered to students undertaking the two programmes to explore their perceptions on challenges experienced in accessing higher education by refugees. Findings indicated that refugees face a myriad of challenges that compromise their ability to access higher education including, early marriages for girls, lack of scholarships to enable them to access education, limitation of movement which hinder them from joining other students in universities where they are enrolled for open learning.