Quality Education for Vulnerable Children: HM Queen Mathilde in Kenya
Her Majesty Advocates the Importance of Education for Displaced Children
Delivering quality education to displaced children remains a challenge. In her capacity as SDG Advocate and Honorary President of UNICEF Belgium, Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of the Belgians traveled to Kenya to witness efforts to expand quality and equitable education and psycho-social support for children, adolescents and families. Her Majesty visited three different UNICEF supported schools built and programmed for children without support systems.
Her Majesty traveled with her daughter, Princess Elisabeth, and first visited the Furaha & Early Childhood Development Centre, where the game and therapy program helps to identify traumas and provide psychosocial support to young children, some of whom are sole members of the Kakuma Refugee Camp, without any family.
Kakuma is a UN Refugee Agency camp located in the North-western region of Kenya. The camp was established in 1992 after the second Sudanese Civil War displaced a group of over 20,000 boys of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups. Today, Kakuma also hosts a large Ethiopian and Somalian population after high insecurity and civil strife caused thousands to flee their countries. Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement was created in 2014 after Kakuma surpassed its capacity. At the end of November 2018, Kakuma camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement housed 186,692 registered refugees and asylum-seekers. (UNHCR)
At Kakuma, Her Majesty had the opportunity to talk with foster families and children heading households, reinforcing the local actions of UNICEF and local authorities in favor of children’s and women’s rights. Over the course of Her mission, the Queen hoped to empower and support the active role of young people as actors of change in areas of inequality, injustice, and violence. She engaged in detailed discussions with UNICEF local authorities on sustainable livelihoods and holistic development, skill building, and support for children and teachers. UNICEF has contributed to the construction of the only school in the Kalobeyei village along with the recruitment, financing and training of teachers.
In Nairobi, the Queen and Princess visited AMREF Dagoretti Centre, which aims to rescue and rehabilitate children who are living in vulnerable situations, exposed to high risk or without any family. The targets of SDG 3: Good Health & Wellbeing and SDG 4: Quality Education were at the forefront of Her Majesty’s attention during these visits and She consistently emphasised their inherent reliance on one another. After time at the Dagoretti Centre, the mission traveled to see the Acakoro Football Academy, supported by UNICEF. The academy focuses on the integral development of children through sport.
The final stop on the UNICEF-led mission to Kenya was a primary school within the Maasai community in the Kajiado County. The UNICEF supported school is a protective environment where students receive psychological support, build skills, and learn sexual education.