In 2006, with a generous grant from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, the UN Refugee Agency opened the first all-girls primary boarding school in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp. Since then, the Angelina Jolie Boarding Primary School has been a beacon of girls’ education.
In 2010, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation donated the funds necessary for UNHCR to provide the most basic items, such as shoes, storage trunks for personal items, water storage, and solar flashlights.
In response to receiving these supplies — true gifts in the eyes of the girls — the students wrote the following thank-you notes:
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Kakuma Refugee Camp was established in 1992 and, as of mid-March 2012, is home to over 91,000 refugees. Over half of the refugees are from Somalia, with another one-third from Sudan and South Sudan.
Providing education for girls in the camp is a persistent challenge. Girls face a myriad of obstacles to learning, including domestic violence, sexual exploitation, child labor, forced marriage and early pregnancy. Additionally, girls are generally charged with the bulk of domestic chores, leaving little time to pursue their studies.
The Angelina Jolie Boarding Primary School has been a critical addition to UNHCR’s efforts to increase girls’ education in the camps. While the school promotes education, it also protects girls from harmful cultural practices that can curtail their development. Students are provided with basic needs, such as toiletries, school supplies, uniforms, and food. In a safe, stable, and secure learning environment, girls are free to concentrate on their studies and achieve high academic performance. UNHCR has observed that girls enrolled in the Angelina Jolie Boarding School are more focused, confident, and outspoken than their peers in other camp schools.
Since the school’s opening, an increased number of young women have passed the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam – a national exam given to all students in the country at the end of their eight years of primary schooling. Passing the KCPE is a requirement for secondary school enrollment in Kenya.
You can learn more about the students and the school in this article and video from NBC. In addition to the school in Kenya, Jolie has also helped establish a school for refugee girls in eastern Afghanistan.
Learn more about Angelina Jolie’s work as Goodwill Ambassador and Special Envoy of UNHCR.
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