We teach here shares the lives of three South Sudanese primary school teachers working in refugee camps in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. Using phone cameras to film themselves, the teachers share their stories and the essential role they play in shaping the future of young refugees, under challenging and fast-changing circumstances.
In this film, produced by IIEP-UNESCO and Education Development Trust (EdDevTrust), refugee teachers – Khan Lol, Nyakan Panom, and Buay Riek – open up their classrooms – and lives – to reveal both the opportunities and challenges involved with teaching inside a refugee camp.
Some 372,000 South Sudanese refugees live in Ethiopia. Nearly half of them are of school going age.
Beginning in the early morning, the film accompanies the teachers as they walk to work. Inside the schools, learning materials are scarce, there are not enough desks, and some students have lost both their parents. Yet, the teachers persevere, and they are motivated to impart knowledge on their students to one-day carry back to South Sudan and to provide for their families and community.
In refugee camp schools in Gambella, 80% of teachers are also refugees without prior teaching qualifications. Instead of a salary, they receive incentive payments averaging about 26 dollars a month.
The film touches on many issues common to teachers in refugee settings. Nyakan Panom is the only female teacher in her school, reflecting a system-wide shortage of female teachers, which is particularly pronounced in this region. According to national education data, more than 90% of teachers in refugee camps in Gambella are male. As a result, Nyakan’s female students flock to her for support in the schoolyard.
We teach here is part of a joint IIEP-UNESCO and EdDevTrust multi-country research programme on promising policies and practices for effective teacher management in refugee settings, and is made possible thanks to the generous support of Dubai Cares and the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), through their Evidence for Education in Emergencies (E-Cubed) Research Fund.
Ethiopia was the first country selected for this research programme. Home to one of the largest refugee populations in Africa, Ethiopia has made significant policy commitments to increasing protection and support for refugees through a range of ambitious policy pledges and legal frameworks. In addition to providing education for its own citizens, the Ethiopian government also provides education to the refugee children living within its borders with support from the international community as part of the Global Compact on Refugees for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing.