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February 28, 2022 (Bishoftu, Ethiopia): The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) with International University of Africa (IUA) and Kampala International University (KIU), today, commenced a technical consultation meeting, on inclusive Education initiative towards the implementation of the Djibouti Declaration on Education for Refugees, Returnees, IDPs and host communities in Bishoftu, Ethiopia.

The aim of the three day technical consultation meeting on inclusive Education initiative, between IGAD and the two respective universities, is to facilitate effective transition from secondary to tertiary education for students from refugee, returnee and host communities; and also to agree on the timeline of final selection of eligible applicants and admission requirements in both universities

On the opening remarks of the IGAD technical consultation meeting, on behalf of the IGAD Director for Health and Social Development Division, Mme. Fathia Alwan, Head of Social Development Unit, Dr Mohamed Elduma, appreciated the generosity of the two universities in providing the scholarship for refugees and other vulnerable populations. He disclosed that in providing those opportunities for affected population, this is facilitating the transition from secondary to post – secondary education.

“In our social development agenda we are majorly concerned for the venerable population in the region. We tried to find opportunities for them. We are successful in promoting primary school and secondary education, and now we are looking forward to providing an opportunity in the tertiary education,” Dr Elduma added.

During the opening of the technical consultation meeting, Dr Kebede Tsegaye IGAD Senior programme coordinator of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation said that Education is not mainstreamed program for long time in IGAD. “However Djibouti Declaration became the regional framework after 2017 and regarded as part of the policy framework. Education currently has a teacher training, scholarship and the regional qualification framework as ongoing programs.

Prof. Mpeza Mihigo, Vice Chancellor of KIU, Dr Osman Bilail , IGAD, Head of Mission for Republic of Sudan and Prof. Hunud Abia Kadouf, Vice Chancellor of IUA also gave their remarks.

Prof. Mpeza Mihigo, Vice chancellor of KIU said that this was an opportunity to be together after the IGAD conference on Higher Education convened in Jigjiga last year. “In our Kampala International University we have several graduates from Uganda, and also trained students from other countries. We shall work with IGAD as always,” Prof. Mihigo added.

Prof. Hunud Abia Kadouf of IUA on his behalf stated that 75% of student population of the university are Africans, some of them refugees. “We can help a lot in IUA,” Prof. Hunud said. “We are privileged to be with IGAD and increase the number of opportunities provided for refugees by our university. We are here to have conversation, so that, we can make this meeting to enhance our continental reintegration.”

IGAD launched a regional scholarship programme to enable eligible refugees achieve their aspirations in life through higher education and skills development programmes. It is also clear that scholarship is all about inclusion and transition from secondary to tertiary education, the latter being below 3%.

The IGAD inclusive Education initiative programme is designed to provide scholarships, prizes, stipends and awards to secondary/high school students to ensure that they have access to quality tertiary education either in the country they are hosted or in other countries where opportunities arise.

The IGAD inclusive Education initiative program goal is to encourage and reward academic excellence especially among underprivileged students who are financially, socially and economically disadvantaged. Also to support student from deprived backgrounds, and/or underrepresented groups or geographical areas within the IGAD region.

IGAD considers scholarship for young people as a cornerstone of regional integration, people-to-people interaction and mutual understanding; all of which are building blocks for peace and stability in the region and beyond.

The rationale behind the IGAD inclusive Education initiative scheme is to facilitate inclusive access to scholarship among the youth in displacement and refugee situations, since higher education and skills development opportunities are extremely inaccessible for this category of people.

The meeting is supported by the fund that available from the IGAD- ECW (Education Can Not Wait) partnership Project. The IGAD-ECW partnership project is designed to enhance, among others, inclusive access to quality education for refugees, returnees and host communities. This is in line with the key priorities of the Djibouti Declaration and the Addis Ababa Call for Action.

The Meeting was attended by members of international university of Africa, Kampala International University, Core Taskforce Member of the Djibouti Declaration, and relevant Officers from the IGAD Secretariat were present.

This inclusive Education initiative workshop is expected to result in final agreed admission criteria and requirements for placement of selected students, including, a jointly developed timeframe and allocation of tasks between IGAD and Universities.

In 2019, IGAD _ ECW signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the implementation of the Djibouti Declaration. Education Cannot Wait is a New York _ based international Organisation working to ensure access to Education in Emergencies (EIE).

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