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In world first, biggest refugee camp gets university

The campus is being set up in Kenya near the Dadaab refugee camp, home to more than 500,000 people sheltering from Somali conflict.

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A handout picture taken in 2011 shows Somali refugees in Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border.

IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation/Reuters

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Refugees in the world's largest refugee camp will soon be able to go for higher education at the world's first university being set up near a camp for its inhabitants.

The campus is being set up by Kenya's Kenyatta University (KU) near the sprawling “city” of tents of Dadaab, where more than 500,000 people are sheltering from war and famine. It will serve both refugees and local Kenyans.

Humanitarian officials hail it as a first for refugees, while education experts say it's a creative solution for cases of long-term conflict in Africa

“Providing education can help solve conflicts in troubled zones in the long-term. With education people get sobered up. They also feel actualized and have hope for the future,” says Dr, Josephine Gitome, the director of KU’s Center for Refugees and Empowerment which is implementing the project.

KU has partnered with Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER), a Canadian and Kenyan development partnership together with international organizations and institutions to establish the Kenyatta University Dadaab Campus.

BHER is a partnership which makes educational programs available to refugees where they need it. It is providing education through online distance courses in Dadaab and along the Thai-Burma border. 

“Refugees who have completed secondary school almost universally voice the desire to attend university, but to date international scholarships in the Global North remain the only opportunity.These scholarships are few and benefit 1 percent,” Professor Wenona Giles of York University, the BHER lead partner, said in the Kenyan media. 

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