Teacher Stories: Ndayikeza and Hakizimana - Kakonko and Kibondo, Tanzania


This story was collected as part of Teachers in Crisis Contexts (TiCC) Event Series to ensure that the voices and experiences of teachers working in crisis and displacement permeate all aspects of the event. For more stories, click here.

Difficulty of being a teacher in a refugee camp

Name: Ndayikeza Emery and Hakizimana Honoré

Role: Teachers

Location: Mtendeli Refugee Camp, Kakonko and Nduta Refugee Camp, Kibondo, Tanzania


Being a teacher in a refugee camp in Tanzania becomes a serious problem because of the barriers, obstacles and frustrations that are encountered at every point when one is doing his/her job. A teacher in the camp lacks necessary elements that teachers need: a positive mind-set and a can-do attitude. Classrooms are overcrowded; a teacher is asked to make all students understand the lesson amidst inadequate teaching and learning materials, poor infrastructures, and sometimes no chair for pupils and teachers.

JRSAll teachers in refugee camps suffer from various problems. When one compares the life of a refugee teacher to the life of a teacher in a host country school, there is a very huge difference. One among those problems a refugee teacher encounters is concerned with the remuneration. Normally a teacher is entitled to be paid a salary, leave allowance, and arrears upon promotion. A teacher in a refugee camp is not only refused all those entitlements but her pay is also just a gesture, otherwise calling it a salary is an abuse for the teaching profession. Thus, a refugee teacher lives in constant financial constraint as she is forced to live on the meagre share she receives at the end of each month. This situation affects her standard of living and causes multiple socio-economic problems which have negative results to students’ learning.  

Mtendeli Camp is found in Western Tanzania, in the region of Kigoma, Kakonko district. The education program in Mtendeli Camp serves about 12.000 Burundian students that have arrived to Tanzania after the socio-political Burundian crisis in 2015.

There has been teachers’ complaints about the payment paid by organisations running education programmes in the camps of Tanzania from the onset of the programme in 2015. Teachers’ pay was not enough to meet their necessities. Although there was a guideline for employing and paying refugees; other sectors such as health, WASH and community services were paying much better than the education sector. This situation caused teachers to live in poor conditions and face a number of problems; the problems of low pay and low status in the community. Teachers are unhappy. According to Hakizimana Honoré, a teacher in Nduta Camp, “education sector is not concerned with teacher’s wellbeing, but with results. How can one expect to get milk to unfed cow?” It is in this situation that many learned, professional and well experienced teachers began to run away from schools and seek employment in other sectors, thus leaving untrained and inexperienced teachers in the programme. 

JRSTeachers feel that their matters are not addressed. They live with grudge. When these concerns are not addressed, and if teachers feel rejected by the system, then the quality of education that is required, including student’s learning is certainly to suffer greatly. 

Recently, the Jesuit Refugee Service allocated some funds for incentive in kind for teachers who have dedicated their time to do remedial classes for exams. The fund purchases materials (a cartons of soap with 12 bars, 10kg of sugar and 15 kg of rice) twice a year. 38 teachers out of 123 benefit from this scheme. The impact has been magnificent. The materials supplement to teacher incentive of $23; and one can see how teachers are happy when doing their job. A lesson learned is that promoting the well-being and the commitment of the teachers and other school personnel is essential to create a positive environment towards learning and offering the students the possibility to benefit from effective teaching.


Hakizimana Honore a university graduate with a degree in Psychology (Licence in Psychology Clinique et Sociale) was born at Iteba, Rumonge Province in Burundi. He is a teacher in Nduta camp, currently, works as the education Coordinator for education programme in the camp, but also teaching secondary school. 

He received various types of professional development such as counselling (and problem solving in school and communities) entrepreneurship, Gender Based Violence (GBV), Peace Education, TiCC Trainer and agricultural training while in Burundi. His training have been very useful to him as an individual and for his community. They have been instrumental to his work as a teacher and a leader especially making students mature and in problem solving when encountering various challenges; and they taught him also how to increase his income when his not teaching. 

What he likes most  of being a teacher is to  accomplish his objectives and imparting knowledge to  students; making someone understand and is able to use the knowledge given manifested in passing different exams and advances to next  and next level. What he detests most is to see a student fail.

Honore has many challenges, lack of adequate classrooms, inadequate learning and teaching materials, harsh education environments, classroom congestions, teacher’s well-being not respected by the authorities, and most of all inadequate pay for a teacher compares to other sectors.  Other challenges include delay of exams which makes students live in uncertainties, and lack of opportunities for higher learning when one has the qualifications.

The education system in the camp is for repatriation. Since such is what is practiced Honore would like to see the Ministry  of Education of Burundi to be involved, especially to inspect schools and recognize the work done in camps. If refugees will continue to follow the education for repatriation without the recognition of the Burundian Ministry of Education, and delay of NECTA (National Examinations Council of Tanzania Exams), the policy should change to follow education for development and refugees be streamlined into the national curriculum as is done in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda


The views expressed in this blog are the author's own.