The Rwandan government’s policy is to integrate refugees into local schools (where possible) and strengthen facilities by building classrooms, providing additional teachers and supplementing materials. Drawing on household survey data, community surveys and focus group discussions, the paper examines the impact of three Congolese refugee camps in Rwanda—Gihembe, Kiziba and Kigeme—on access to education and educational outcomes for children in host communities, in communities closer to (less than 10 km) and further away (greater than 20 km) from the camps. The researchers find that:
- Communities closer to a refugee camp are not more likely to have a primary or secondary school located within it.
- The average travel time to the nearest primary school is slightly lower for communities within a 10 km radius of Kigeme and Kiziba refugee camps compared to communities further away (but higher for communities within a 10 km radius of Gihembe refugee camp compared to communities further away).
- The average travel time to a secondary school is higher for communities within 10 km of three camps compared to communities further away.
- Children living within 10 km of a refugee camp are significantly more likely to attend school.
- Children living within 10 km of a refugee camp that has more local integration (Gihembe and Kigeme) are significantly more likely to benefit from school feeding programs.
- Children within 10 km of a refugee camp have better educational outcomes (i.e. on average they have completed more years of schooling and are more likely to have completed primary school), however other factors may explain these outcomes.
- Locals residing closer to the camps have mostly positive views on the effects of refugees on local education.
The authors conclude that the inflow of refugees from the DRC into Rwanda has an overall positive impact on the education of children residing in the areas surrounding the refugee camps.