Maggie goes to Kakuma


Maggie Goes To Kakuma


Educational Centre


October 2019


Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County, Kenya



Koen Timmers

Innovation Lab School Project

Estimated budget:

125 000 euro


Kakuma is a town in the north-western region of Kenya. It has hosted a refugee camp since 1992. The humanitarian settlement currently serves over 179.000 people who have fled war and violence in neighboring countries. All ages are represented in Kakuma originating from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea and Uganda. The largest group are Somalian – at 44.5% of the community – followed by the South Sudanese at 33.7%.

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Koen Timmers, Maggie Program NPO and DMOA architects want to combine forces by building an Innovation Lab School for about 200 children equipped with additional digital classes to train local refugees in becoming qualified teachers. The result is an educational and vocational training center all in one, connected to the world via Skype and internet.

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Refugees flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution. Many are separated from their families and friends and have no options to support themselves other than to rely on aid.

55% of the refugees in Kakuma are children. Only half of them attend school. Child labor, cultural barriers, lack of resources, family needs, and young marriages causes huge amounts of dropouts. But above all there is a great shortage of school infrastructure and skilled teachers.

Who is Koen Timmers?

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Koen is a Belgian educator, author, speaker and UN SDG ambassador. In 2018 he was announced by Bill Gates as one of the best teachers in the world at the Global Teacher Prize. He is a lecturer and researcher at the Teacher Training department of PXL university college Hasselt. Koen is passionate about technology enhanced and collaborative learning. In 2015 he launched the Kakuma Skype Project and initiated several global education projects focusing on UN SDG’s involving 500 schools in 90 countries. Support came from the Dalai Lama, Charlize Theron, UNESCO, Greenpeace, scientists, National Geographic, etc. The projects were covered by international media across 35 countries. 

The seed: Kakuma Skype project

April 2015 Koen Timmers donated his laptop to the Kakuma  refugee camp after hearing about the shortage of teachers and the huge amount of children eager to learn. The idea was to connect the computer through internet and skype to a global network of volunteering teachers offering free distance learning to the kids. In collaboration with LWF an increasingly growing group of  educators (350 across 6 continents) began to teach courses of Math, Science and English trough Skype. Thanks to crowdfunding and the support of the Belgian vice-prime minister 10 more laptops were added to the project.

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Upscaling: Innovation Lab Schools

The need for education is huge, not only in Kakuma but all around Africa.The concept of the Kakuma Skype Project is easy to repeat and upscale. That’s why in September 2018 Dr. Jane Goodall and Koen Timmers decided to join forces by launching the Innovation Lab Schools project. The famous English primatologist and anthropologist had already implemented her “Roots & Shoots educational program” in 120 countries with her Jane Goodall Institute.  This strong partnership will realize the Innovation Lab schools in 11 different countries in the years to come. 

Already 1.000 teachers signed up to offer education through Skype. Every Lab School will be connected to the internet and equipped with laptops and tablets teaching children ànd local teachers.

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First innovation Lab School in Kakuma

Although successful and already changing lives, the Kakuma Skype project lacks decent infrastructure. Today only 20 students at a time can join a session leaving hundreds more on a waiting list. Building a new school would allow to increase the amount of Skype sessions and the number of students involved. On top of that, teachers can be trained simultaneously using videos. The new school will be the first in Kenya to be part of the Innovation lab school project which will offer Kakuma refugee camp a lot of attention globally.


The design for the Kakuma Innovation Lab School 

A setup with two Maggie shelters  (2x 100m2) and a one-way 20ft container (24m2) that will be used to ship in the school. Resulting in a total inner surface area of 224m2 or 800 m3.

The container will be attached to the 2 door openings of the shelters as a safe box that is only accessible from the inside of the classes. It will provide the necessary storage for the laptops, battery packs and other valuables. On top of the Maggie roof, solar panels can be mounted.  

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