It is Never too Late to Learn to Read and Write: Empowering Young Refugees through Basic Literacy and Numeracy Training


Bujumbura, March 2012 – Since the month of June 2011, the RET – in collaboration with UNHCR – is implementing a project aiming at the empowerment of Congolese refugee youth through basic literacy and numeracy training. Initially, fifteen Congolese teachers in the three refugee camps were trained in literacy teaching and participatory teaching methodologies. The training has allowed these teachers not only to work in the refugee camps, but thanks to its official recognition by the Congolese authorities, their certificates will also prove useful to them upon repatriation to their home country.


Over the past months, more than 450 illiterate young women and men attended classes. Around 93% of the learners are young women. “In our culture, especially in rural communities, parents do not care to send girls to school. Only boys are sent off to study, while girls often remain at home until they get married!”, said a 19 year old woman who has lived in Musasa refugee camp since fleeing Congo’s Katanga province in 2006.




The basic literacy and numeracy courses have not only enabled students to learn to read and write, they were also equipped with important life skills in such areas as decision making, health and hygiene, environment or basic trading and entrepreneurial skills.


“This training is of great importance to me. I can finally read letters addressed to me and I am no longer dependent on others. I can calculate if the change I get at the market is correct and I have learned how to better manage my belongings, how to be more helpful to my family and to my community. Being illiterate has been an obstacle for too long in my life and I am glad the training gives me the courage and skills to overcome this situation. It is never too late to learn to read and to write”, concluded a 24-year-old woman from Gasorwe refugee camp.