The Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI) Scholarship Programme commenced in 1992 and has benefitted more than 22,500 refugee students.
On 6 December 2022, UNHCR, in collaboration with its partner, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), organized a ceremony in Dar es Salaam with the participation of high-level officials, including a Representative of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy, and UNHCR's Deputy Representative.
This celebration followed the 30th-anniversary commemoration launched at the University of Iringa in July 2022 with an introductory seminar on refugee rights and international refugee protection. At the end of the said ceremony, DAFI students, participants, and the University's management planted more than thirty trees around the higher education structure. In addition, other commemorations were held at refugee camps in Nduta and Nyarugusu in Kigoma region.
As a reminder, the DAFI Scholarship Programme is an academic initiative implemented by UNHCR with financial support from Germany, enabling young refugees to pursue higher education. More specifically, it offers qualified refugee students the possibility to earn an undergraduate degree in hard science, social sciences, humanities, and arts in their countries of asylum.
In Tanzania, the programme was launched in 1994, and, to date, more than 460 refugees benefited from the scholarship, allowing them to access local universities. These include the University of Iringa, the University of Dodoma, the Institute of Finance and Management, and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences of Dar es Salaam.
"The DAFI Scholarship Programme is the unique opportunity for refugee students to pursue their studies at the tertiary level in Tanzania," said Mr. Yanik Yankeu, Education Officer at UNHCR Tanzania.
For UNHCR, such initiatives benefit students and allow them to positively contribute to their host communities or their country of origin after voluntarily repatriating.
"If we give education to refugees, we are contributing to solving problems that lead to turmoil which results in many people being driven away from home." So said UNHCR's Deputy Representative, Mr. George Kuchio, in his opening remarks.
As of 30 June 2022, a date marking the end of an academic year, 81,605 refugee children out of 95,028 school-age children were enrolled in 56 camp-based schools. This increase is attributed to administering of examinations to 7,143 candidates, including 5,581 from the Democratic Republic of Congo and 1,562 from Burundi, for the 2021 and 2022 cohorts, respectively.
Moreover, during the ceremony, Ms. Amina Ismail Haji, a Computer Science student and one of the DAFI refugee beneficiaries, spoke on behalf of the scholarship recipients in Tanzania. She thanked the Government of Tanzania for the protection and for granting permission to exit the camp to pursue education at different levels of study. However, she expressed some challenges refugee students face, like “permit delays” and “living costs”.
Currently, less than 1% of refugee students have access to tertiary education in Tanzania. This figure could be explained by, among various factors, the lack of mainstreaming refugee education into the national education system, high examination costs, financial constraints, and language barriers.
"I call for more collective efforts and investment in higher education for refugees to help transform their lives and prospects. These efforts would ensure we reach the global '15by30' goal, aiming to increase enrolment in higher education of young refugee women and men to 15% by 2030," added Yankeu, UNHCR's Education Officer.