Many refugees find it difficult to integrate into the Ugandan school system. The challenge of integrating into Ugandan schools constitutes unequal access to education and contributes to the drop out rate and the high percentage of out of school children.
Many refugee children are forced to repeat multiple years of school because they have to learn how to communicate in a new language of instruction and learn in a new curriculum - for example, refugee children from DR Congo must transition from a system where French is the language of instruction to the Ugandan system which uses English. A refugee child who was in secondary school but then has to start again in a primary school class with eight and nine year olds, is not being afforded equal access to education.
The fact that refugee children are forced to repeat years of school contributes to the drop out rate and the high percentage of out of school children. Some refugee children who are forced down to lower grades of school get demoralised and drop out, others faced with the prospect of starting again near the beginning of primary school don't join and so remain out of school. So to some extent the bridging program contributes to addressing the challenge of giving children who are out of school a lifeline.
Out of school children and children who have dropped out are part of the target group but are not the only target group. All refugee children who have been learning in a different school system with a different language of instruction for at least three years, need some sort of bridging program in order to integrate into school at an equal level.
Just regarding barriers to employment, and how these hubs could look when they are owned by refugees. Last year I was invited to meet with a Congolese refugee youth group that meets at the Antonio Guterres Community Centre in Mengo, Kampala. The Centre is managed by Interaid (UNHCR's urban implementing partner). The refugee youth group I met with explained that they get many SGBV and other awareness sessions, but what they would really like is to be able to use a room at the Community Centre as a place for their businesses (a few were hairdressers, another had a photography business), either to actually do their work there, or at least meet clients there. They explained that a barrier to getting work was that they did not have a fixed space where potential clients can find them. This meant that some potential clients did not trust them and so were unwilling to engage their services. Interaid had not been receptive to their idea of being able to meet clients there at the Community Centre. I think the idea of the Tamuka Hubs being genuinely owned by refugees is tremendously important. I imagine that using the Hubs as a place to meet clients, and as a place where clients are able to trace you, is just one of the ways that the Hubs could be used to help refugees get better access to consistent employment and business.