(Kakuma, Kenya) September 22, 2013 — Jesuit Refugee Service and Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins holds the first graduation ceremony for diploma students in Kakuma refugee camp on Monday, September 23, 2013 at the JRS Arrupe Learning Center in Kakuma Refugee Camp.
The students graduating began the program in September 2010 and are now just completing their three year program. JRS is very proud of the students’ dedication to their studies and are excited to share this experience with you on this tremendous achievement.
The Diploma in Liberal Studies is a three year program that focuses on areas such as humanities, leadership, business studies and communication. Regis University in Denver, Colorado, offers the academic accreditation for the program. Twenty-six students, from an initial group of 35 students, will be graduating on that day. Twenty men and six women comprise the first group of graduates.
Jesuit education transforms, thereby liberating the mind and the spirit. JC:HEM seeks, in partnership with those living at the margins, to teach, to learn, and to help transform the world. JC:HEM and Jesuit Refugee Service began a four year pilot program in September 2010. Sites included in the pilot programs are Dzaleka Camp, Malawi; Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya and urban refugees in Amman, Jordan.
Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins is an initiative of the Society of Jesus that brings Jesuit higher education to those at the margins of our society. It draws on the rich and centuries long Jesuit tradition of higher education and mobilizes the resources of the Jesuit worldwide network of educational institutions.
The program offers a dynamic model of tertiary education to refugees, promoting education as a fundamental human right in the most rugged circumstances. In the pilot phase of the program, ending in August 2014, more than 1,500 refugees in Kakuma, Dzaleka and Jordan are expected to have benefited from the program.
While the program does not offer immediate solutions to the refugee crisis, it brings refugees into a wider community of academic study, engages their minds and equips them with skills they can apply today, thus offering them a possibility of a life worth living today and giving them a perspective for the future.
By Alex Kiptanui
Project Director Jesuit Refugee Service Kakuma
JRS started working with refugees in Kakuma in 1994 focusing on two broad areas, education and psycho-social support. JRS projects target the most vulnerable, who face the greatest challenges, their conditions having been aggravated by displacement and the living conditions in the camp. The JC-HEM distance education program is the most recent addition to the JRS education initiatives in Kakuma.