The Australia for UNHCR-funded Vocational Training Centre in Kyaka II refugee settlement has officially opened in Uganda.

The centre is the first of its kind to provide skills training to both refugee and local Ugandan youth between the ages of 15 and 25. The centre offers accredited training in agriculture, mechanics, hairdressing, catering and hospitality.

Operational since May this year, the Vocational Training Centre currently provides a pathway into meaningful work for 250 students and can host 100 additional learners.

After successfully completing their training, graduates will receive a start-up kit to help them set up their own businesses.

Akankunda Agnes, 24, is mother of a one-year-old daughter and a student at the centre. She arrived in Uganda last year after fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Enrolled in the agriculture course, Akankunda plans to pursue farming as a career in future.

“Farming is everything to me, it means a life to me. There is nothing better than growing your own food with your own hands,” she says.


Vocational Training Centre students Agnes and her baby | Empowering refugees youth through education

Mother and Congolese refugee, Akankunda, is enrolled the agriculture course and plans to pursue a career in farming. © UNHCR/D. Aslam Khan

Australia for UNHCR National Director Naomi Steer visited Uganda in September 2019 to officially open the centre alongside Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Uganda, Jonathan Ball, and UNHCR Representative to Uganda, Joël Boutroue.

The opening was a special day for both the students and Australians who have helped fund the centre.

“It’s been quite a journey from the time that I stood here three years ago,” says Australia for UNHCR National Director Naomi Steer.

“All around me was maize and bushland. Since then, it’s been cleared and buildings have been constructed.”

“Today, you can see the enthusiasm of the students here and what education will mean for their lives. For the first time they have access to vocational training that will lead to skills and jobs."

I want to thank all the Australian donors who contributed to this project. I was very proud to represent you at the opening and to share the smiles of the students you have helped support.”
Australia for UNHCR National Director Naomi Steer and a student hold cabbages | Empowering refugee youth through education

Australia for UNHCR National Director, Naomi Steer, and Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Uganda, Jonathan Ball, are presented with organic cabbages grown by students at the centre. © UNHCR/D. Aslam Khan

An Australia for UNHCR appeal launched in August 2017 raised $1.4 million to fund the construction of the Vocational Training Centre.

The campus includes boys’ and girls’ dormitories, a dining hall, kitchen, staff accommodation, computer labs, workshops and an administration building. Dormitories can accommodate up to 100 students, many of whom will travel long distances to study there.

Kyaka II refugee settlement in Uganda is home to more than 106,000 refugees from surrounding countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. Over half are aged under 30.

After they complete primary and secondary school, further education for these young people is extremely limited.

Thanks to Australia for UNHCR donors, thousands of young people will learn new skills and build a better future for themselves and their families.

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Vocational Training Students poses for a happy photo | Empowering refugees youth through education

Thank you for empowering young people to look towards a brighter future. © UNHCR/D. Aslam Khan

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