Violence-free schools for peace.

Entreculturas provides and offers access to a quality education to refugees and forcibly displaced people in 18 of the countries where we work, including. Lebanon, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Even under such difficult circumstances of having to seek refuge in another country, going to school is a basic need for refugee children.  A lost school year can have irreversible consequences. A lost and uneducated generation will never be able to contribute to the reconciliation and rebuilding of their country.

For refugee minors, school is a safe place, a necessary place that offers protection and education, a welcoming place. And it is particularly crucial for girls, given their higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence.

Entreculturas along with its international allies Fe y Alegría and the Jesuit Refugee Service, is committed to education as a crucial element of protection, resilience and reconciliation.

LEBANON: refuge schools for an unending conflict.

The war in Syria began eight years ago, and the conflict has had devastating consequences for the population, particularly its youngest members. In 2018 alone, 1,106 Syrian minors lost their lives. On many occasions children have been victims of forced recruitment and girls have been forced into prostitution.
///In 2018 alone, 1,106 Syrian minors lost their lives.
The country’s education situation is shocking. Schools and universities have been repeatedly attacked – there were 262 attacks in 2018 – and dropout rates are extremely high. The situation in those schools that have managed to stay open is deplorable: overcrowded classrooms, a lack of teachers, inability to provide adequate teaching due to the trauma teachers and students experienced…
This situation also impacts the bordering countries, which do not have the capacity to adequately take in such high numbers of people in situations of extreme need. One of them is Lebanon, which has taken in 1.5 million Syrians. The country has made a massive effort to ensure the education of refugee children by creating an afternoon shift specifically for them, but there are still about 300,000 who do not attend school.
///There are still about 300,000 who do not attend school.
JRS, with the support of Entreculturas, creates safe educational spaces for the most vulnerable populations (girls, boys and women) with which we work, applying an approach that focuses on post-traumatic rehabilitation and reconstruction of the social fabric.


Syrian refugee, JRS student at the Telyani School in Bar Elias
“When I go to school, I no longer feel alone and that is the most important thing for me.
I am part of a group here and it makes me happy. In addition, I have Miss Hoda (social worker) and Miss Nour (psychologist), with whom I can talk about everything that worries me.”
This is the testimony of Nour, a 13-year-old Syrian refugee who has been studying at one of the JRS schools supported by Entreculturas. Her dream is to become a lawyer and to be able to stay in school is her greatest wish. When she was 11 years old, she dropped out of school for a year to help her family earn money. She worked 14 hours a day growing potatoes, without drinking water or going to the bathroom. The work made her long for school: «What I missed the most was feeling loved and protected”.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: exchanging arms for pencils.

Although the Central African Republic signed the Safe Schools Declaration in 2015, more than 400 schools remained closed in 2016 because of the collapse of infrastructure or because they are used for military purposes. Some 10,000 students were unable to attend class.


///There are currently over 687,000 internally displaced persons.
The country, which currently comes in last on the United Nations’ Human Development ranking, has been mired in a serious humanitarian crisis and political instability since 2012, which has caused ongoing flows of people both within the country and to bordering countries. There are currently over 687,000 internally displaced persons and more than 568,000 have sought refuge outside the country’s borders.
The conflict has led to a decline in the country’s security, an increase in poverty and the growing presence of militias that forcibly recruit children. In the last 6 years, 14,000 boys and girls have been recruited to fight by armed groups.
///In the last 6 years, 14,000 boys and girls have been recruited to fight by armed groups.
In this context, it is vital to guarantee access to education and the protection of minors, which must be done from early childhood. JRS, with the support of Entreculturas, offers pre-school, primary education, and literacy and awareness-raising activities in 12 villages along the Bangui-Mbata road, also helping to improve the climate of social cohesion between the host and displaced populations.
former child soldier, JRS student at Bambari
“I was 13 when the war started in my town, Bria. I witnessed my mother and father being killed in front of me”. These are the words of Sophie* (name changed for security reasons), who spent a year and three months in an armed group.
“These groups use some girls as sex slaves or to prepare food, do household chores or serve as nurses. Sophie had a combatant role. “I did the same thing they did with my parents”, she explains. After leaving the group, Sophie began to participate in the social support and training activities that we implemented together with JRS in Bambari.

SOUTH SUDAN: education is a force for peace.

Since the beginning of the civil war in 2013, 2.3 million South Sudanese have taken refuge in other countries, and over 1.8 million have been displaced within the country. The levels of violence suffered by the population –particularly women and girls– are difficult to imagine. And the recruitment of children has continued to increase since the beginning of the conflict: according to estimates, at least 9,000 boys and girls have been recruited.
For South Sudan, a country immersed in this internal conflict that has also taken in 200,000 refugees fleeing neighbouring country Sudan, education is a fundamental means of looking towards the future, but it is also a force for peace and social cohesion.
Together with JRS, the services we provide in Mabán, one of the border counties, range from teacher training and psychosocial support to recreational activities and specialised English and IT courses. We offer a holistic approach, supporting the Sudanese refugees, the internally displaced South Sudanese and also the local population.


///BASAMAT, refugiada sudanesa.
Sudanese refugee, student of the teacher training course of JRS in Mabán
“I left my home because of the war in the Blue Nile, Sudan, in 2011. My family and I came to Mabán seeking refuge in the face of violence. I was in my second year of secondary school when I was forced to drop out”, explains Basamat. After three years in the refugee camp, her mother managed to find a job to support the family and sent Basamat to Uganda to continue her studies, but two years later she was once again forced to drop out of school in order to go back to work.
Now she is training to become a teacher: “I got the best marks out of 42 candidates in the first semester. My favourite subjects are Mathematics and Science. The community pressures me to marry, like other girls my age. I would like girls to have more opportunities to develop and grow while pursuing our dreams. I would like the conditions of my community to improve and see people happier in turn”.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: girls who want to grow in freedom.

The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has now been raging for over 20 years, a conflict that has led to the forced displacement of more than 3.8 million people throughout the country, of which nearly 900,000 are concentrated just in the province of North Kivu. Despite signing the Safe Schools Declaration in June 2016, thousands of schools in the DRC have since been destroyed.
///Some 2.9 million children are in urgent need of education
Some 2.9 million children are in urgent need of education. Children are particularly vulnerable to forced recruitment by armed groups, and girls are at high risk of sexual violence, both at school and on the way to class, and of being kidnapped by the different militias to fight, to work as cooks or to marry members of armed groups.


JRS, with the support of Entreculturas, makes girls’ access to education a priority in its educational work, because this is a particularly vulnerable group within the internally displaced population; the organisation also makes it possible for girls under 15 years of age to access secondary education in the IDP camp in Masisi.

BURUNDI: the battle against desperation.

Every month, Burundi takes in an average of 600 refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who receive prima facie recognition as refugees in this country, which maintains an open door and protection policy. The Congolese refugees are joined by those from Rwanda and Tanzania, as well as internally displaced Burundians.
SANGANYI NAMANGALA was forced to leave her country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, due to the conflict. Now she is an agent of change at Kinama refugee camp, in Burundi, where she lives.
Although they have access to humanitarian aid, the families living in the refugee camps where we work with JRS live in an extremely precarious situation that includes serious threats to children, from lack of education to violence and sexual abuse.


///The families living in the refugee camps where we work with JRS live in an extremely precarious situation.
Yet families continue to prioritise education in spite of such upheaval; they believe school is crucial for both the physical and psychological protection of their children and for their development. JRS offers a quality education through the schools and kindergartens that it manages in the Kinama, Musasa, Nyankanda, Kavumu and Bwagiriza camps.

Education for peace on the border between COLOMBIA AND VENEZUELA.

Colombia, marked by the beginning of the implementation of the Peace Agreements between the National Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP in 2017, is today a polarised country in which violence, rather than decreasing, is taking new forms. On the other hand, the resurgence of the situation in Venezuela has placed many people in a situation of extreme social vulnerability and risk, forcing them to leave the country. According to official data, 3.4 million Venezuelans have been forced to leave their homes, although some estimates put that figure at over 5 million.

JRS Colombia ©Photo

Through our “On the Colombian border” programme, which we implement in in Colombia and Venezuela as well as in Ecuador, we serve the people affected by these complex crises and offer access to education for displaced and refugee children. In addition, we work with almost 6,000 participants in education for peace, reconciliation and the prevention of violence, both at schools and in the communities that take in people who have been displaced.
///3.4 million Venezuelans have been forced to leave their homes.

A GLOBAL REALITY: children of the same world.

The desire for peace is something that bring us together despite our differences. We all know people need to live in peace in order to develop freely and fully: the link between peace and individual and collective well-being has been demonstrated. Violence hinders the fulfilment of human rights and threatens human dignity, particularly that of children. Educational processes must be promoted that teach nonviolence from a place of nonviolence and which build a global citizenship.


This is exactly what Entreculturas does through its work with the educational community, through which schools and teachers help students learn about the transforming power of a culture of peace in our societies, encouraging the personal commitment of young people as part of a global citizenship that defends and promotes justice, empathy and inclusion, and encourages the construction of peaceful spaces and relationships.
///We all know people need to live in peace in order to develop freely and full.

Entreculturas provides and offer access to a quality education to refugees and forcibly displaced people.


These schools save lives.