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Social Development Centre training for Karenni refugee youth

Over the last 20 years more than 22,000 Karenni people have been displaced from their homes in Karenni (Kayah) state in Myanmar. Many more live as internally displaced persons within Karenni state.

Karenni Social Development Centre was established in Karenni Camp 1 in 2002 to address the lack of civically oriented educational and training opportunities available to residents of the camp. Education and employment opportunities for those in the camps are limited so few Karenni know about human rights and how to protect their interests.

Since 2002 over 500 graduates of the course have gone on to work in their communities as part of both local and international humanitarian and social organizations.

Karenni Social Development Centre (KSDC) trains young people to be aware of their rights and to understand the rule of law, democracy, care for the environment and general leadership skills for working with their communities. Subjects include: environmental sustainability, gender equality, non-violent activism, human (and refugee) rights as well as English and computer studies.

RIJ has supported the work of KNSDC for some years and has seen the progress it has made as it has developed its integrated syllabus and seen alumni from the courses go on to become mobile trainers and change-makers, both in the camps and within Karenni state.
The funding covers the training for 35 young adults in the basic course and 26 applicants selected from the basic course to continue their studies in the Advanced Community Management Course.

Alumni have gone on to work in camp committees, for NGOs and within their home communities inside Karenni state teaching people about their rights and campaigning for better services to be provided. Many of these young people are driven to do this work because they see the difficulties that their parents and friends have experienced.

Rosie graduated from KSDC in 2005. She said: 
“I have benefited from my experience at SDC by improving my knowledge and becoming more confident to speak than before I studied there. My study was especially helpful in preparing me for a leadership role. I have now been working at Karenni Women’s Organisation for 10 years and was promoted to Coordinator 4 years ago.

Anthony graduated from the basic course in 203 and now works with the Justice and Security committee in Karenni camp 1. He says: “my priority is to to be able to build up a peaceful society and strength the rule of law in our camp community. Moreover, we lay down fair trials for private and civil law for our community for both sides of accused persons and accusers in Camp.”

All teachers and staff of KSDC are refugees and most are graduates of previous courses. RIJ has been supporting their work since 2002.