Close

28th November – 5th December is Big Give week!

We’re raising money to give every child the best start in life! Give now and have your donation doubled.

Donate now

Makeshift school set up at Calais refugee camp in France

It's not unusual to see a school inside a refugee camp. You'll find them in many countries – packed with children whose families have fled their homes in Syrian, South Sudan and other conflict-affected countries.

Now there is a school at the temporary home for 3000 migrants who are living in a far corner of France waiting in the hope of being allowed into the United Kingdom.

The biggest camp at the northern port of Calais has become known as “the jungle”. Living there in makeshift tents and structures are desperate people who have made hazardous journeys from the Middle East and Africa.

The refugee situation has been hitting the headlines every day in Britain, with hundreds of migrants attempting to make their way through the Channel Tunnel that separates France and England.

Makeshift structures at the Calais camp

The camp was established two years ago and now has a mosque, a church, a shop and a barbers. And now the school.

Started last month by Nigerian Zimarco Jones, it is called L'Ecole laique du Chemin des Dunes, or the Secular School of Dune Way. He made it from branches and wood panels and it can seat 20 students in front of the blackboard. Zimarco is now planning to build a second school.

People were asking him how to write their letters and numbers in French. So, he said: “One day I decided to build the school to help them.”

A temporary church built at the refugee camp

Staffed by French teachers who volunteer their time, students can learn basic French as well as English and other subjects. Zimarco said: “We now have almost 20 professional teachers. They try to do something to change our lives.”

For now, the school is used mainly by young men. But there are plans to add another school for more than 20 children and 200 women who are now in the camp.

Teacher Monique Denoeux said: “They are students like the students in my normal school.”