9. Refugee education Education for an unknowable future.pdf

Curriculum Inquiry ISSN: 0362-6784 (Print) 1467-873X (Online) Journal homepage: Refugee education: Education for an unknowable future Sarah Dryden-Peterson To cite this article: Sarah Dryden-Peterson (2017) Refugee education: Education for an unknowable future, Curriculum Inquiry, 47:1, 14-24, DOI: 10.1080/03626784.2016.1255935 To link to this article: Published online: 14 Mar 20
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  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Curriculum Inquiry ISSN: 0362-6784 (Print) 1467-873X (Online) Journal homepage: Refugee education: Education for an unknowablefuture Sarah Dryden-Peterson To cite this article:  Sarah Dryden-Peterson (2017) Refugee education: Education for anunknowable future, Curriculum Inquiry, 47:1, 14-24, DOI: 10.1080/03626784.2016.1255935 To link to this article: Published online: 14 Mar 2017.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 794View related articles View Crossmark dataCiting articles: 4 View citing articles  Refugee education: Education for an unknowable future Sarah Dryden-Peterson Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA ABSTRACT Con 󿬂 ict and displacement are increasingly protracted, requiringrethinking of refugee education as a long-term endeavour,connected not only to the idea of return but to the ongoing natureof exile. In this essay, I examine how refugees conceptualizeeducation and its role in creating certainty and mending thedisjunctures of their trajectories as refugees. Through a portrait of one refugee teacher, the essay explores technical, curricular, andrelational dimensions of refugee education that assist refugeestudents in preparing for unknowable futures. KEYWORDS Refugee; con 󿬂 ict; teachers;purposes of education The Uncertainties of Contemporary Con 󿬂 ict Abroon 1 arrived in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya when he was nine. He and his familyinitially thought they would quickly return to Somalia. Yet, twenty-three years later,Abroon is still in exile, still living in Dadaab. Abroon is one of 21.3 million refugees globallywho have been forcibly displaced outside of their country of srcin (UNHCR, 2016). Main-stream media would have us believe that the refugee crisis generated by the contempo-rary con 󿬂 ict in Syria is unprecedented. It is true that the number of refugees globally is atits highest level since the Second World War and that, in 2015 alone, 1.8 million peoplewere newly displaced to become refugees (UNHCR, 2016, p. 2). The most recent massmovements have resulted primarily from con 󿬂 ict in Syria, but also with the onset and re-ignition of con 󿬂 icts in Iraq, Mali, and South Sudan, among others.Furthermore, Abroon ’ s experience is just one example of how the phenomena of forced migration and exile are not new. The 1.8 million newly displaced refugees in 2015 joined almost 17 million others who have remained refugees for multiple decades, fromongoing con 󿬂 icts in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and from Abroon ’ scountry of srcin, Somalia. Historically, 40 million people were displaced across Europe bythe end of the Second World War. Independence movements across Africa saw more than850,000 people become refugees in the single year of 1965. Between March and May of 1971, more than 100,000 people per day entered India from East Pakistan; by the end of 1971, there were 10 million refugees in India. One million refugees crossed from Rwandainto what was then Zaire in July 1994, 15,000 each hour on one day (UNHCR, 2000, pp. 51,52, 59). CONTACT  Sarah Dryden-Peterson © 2017 the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education CURRICULUM INQUIRY, 2017VOL. 47, NO. 1, 14 – 24   The degree of uncertainty that refugees face has changed since the end of the ColdWar (Collier, Hoef  󿬂 er, & S € oderbom, 2004). Critical for refugee education is that con 󿬂 ict andcon 󿬂 ict-induced displacement are increasingly protracted (Dryden-Peterson, 2015). Forexample, between 2005 and 2015, two- 󿬁 fths of all refugees were displaced for three ormore years at any one time, and, in 2014, in 33 protracted con 󿬂 icts globally, the averagelength of exile was 25 years. The current length of displacement is nearly three times aslong as it was in the early 1990s (Crawford, Cosgrave, Haysom, & Walicki, 2015; UNHCR &Global Monitoring Report, 2016).Previously, with an understanding that con 󿬂 ict was short-lived and that return fromexile would be imminent, refugee education was conceptualized as a return to  “ normalcy ” through the provision of access to schooling (Nicolai & Triplehorn, 2003). As Davies and Talbot wrote,  “ the implication [of this thinking] is that it would almost be enough to getthe children back into school and that the routines of schooling are as important as itscontent ”  (2008, p. 513). Understanding that con 󿬂 ict and displacement are not temporaryrequires a rethinking of refugee education as a long-term endeavour, connected not onlyto the idea of return but to the ongoing nature of exile. In this essay, I examine how refu-gees conceptualize education and its role in creating certainty and mending the disjunc-tures of their trajectories as refugees. The Shifting Landscape of Refugee Education When Abroon was young, his mother told him,  “ I want to educate these [refugee] childrenso that tomorrow they help themselves and they also help us. ”  Abroon has taken on thisresponsibility on behalf of his mother. He now teaches in a refugee camp secondaryschool.  “ I ’ m making a good contribution to society, ”  Abroon says,  “ because I am buildingtheir brains and their future. ”  Teachers of refugees play a central role in helping their stu-dents to conceptualize what that future might be and how to prepare for it. Teachers of refugees play this role within the con 󿬁 nes of interactions among globaland national structures governed by the politics of migration, funding sources, local econ-omies, and the state of national education systems, among other factors (Dryden-Peter-son, 2015). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the globalorganization mandated with the protection of refugees ’  rights and the provision of serv-ices, including education, poses three  “ durable solutions ”  for refugees, in effect three pos-sible futures. They include return to the country of srcin; integration in a country of   󿬁 rstasylum (usually a low-income country); or resettlement to a third country (usually a high-income country).Yet for Abroon, as for most refugees globally, none of these options is a realistic possi-bility. It has not been safe for him to return home; his country of srcin, Somalia, has beenengulfed in con 󿬂 ict for almost three decades, among the top countries of srcin for refu-gees in every year since 1988 (UNHCR, 2016, p. 56). He has not been able to integrate intoKenya, because he does not have the right to work and xenophobia toward refugees ishigh (Foulds, 2016). And he cannot access resettlement, an option that is available to lessthan one percent of refugees globally (UNHCR, 2014). His situation is one of   “ radical uncer-tainty, ”  where there is imperfect knowledge and the future is unpredictable (Horst &Grabska, 2015). Faced with an unknowable future, Abroon envisioned that his education REFUGEE EDUCATION 15  might facilitate mobilities  –  physical and cognitive  –  that would help him to build a morecertain future.Like most refugees globally, however, Abroon ’ s mobility is restricted. His access tosocial services and to the protection of his rights is tied to his residence in a refugeecamp, limiting his freedom of movement (Lindley, 2011). And yet, it is the very concept of mobility that has shaped his educational experiences to date and that drives his futureaspirations. As Abroon said: education is a very key tool. When war breaks out, you run away … leaving your everything. If you don ’ t have education, then you ’ ll become poor. But if you run away with only your shirt and   you have the brain, you can work somewhere and earn a living … . Education is a veryessential tool. Also, education is light. Education is the  “ light at the end of the tunnel, ”  Madad, fellow teacher in Dadaab andcolleague to Abroon, said. Yet Abroon was thinking of a different kind of light; he meantthat education is not heavy. The lack of weight meant that it was portable. Education wasmobile, just as Abroon hoped that his future would be. To examine how refugees conceptualize the role of education in creating certainty andmending the disjunctures of their trajectories as refugees, I present a portrait of BaumaBenjamin. Bauma, as a teacher, a parent, and a student, has navigated educational struc-tures and created educational opportunities across multiple spaces: in his con 󿬂 ict-affectedcountry of srcin, DRC; in his country of   󿬁 rst asylum, Uganda; in his country of resettle-ment, Canada; and as a transnational actor on issues of refugee education. I do not pres-ent Bauma ’ s experiences as a journey to be rei 󿬁 ed but rather as one of many possibletrajectories. His experiences of multiple contexts of con 󿬂 ict, exile, and migration, andthe meaning he makes of each one, illuminate the roles of education in the unknowablefutures inherent to refugeehood and the ways in which individuals can navigate, and shift,the structures that circumscribe them.Portraiture is a qualitative social science methodology that intentionally seeks to pur-sue, understand, and convey the  “ authority, knowledge, and wisdom ”  of the perspectivesand experiences of research participants (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, pp. xv, 103). Itinvolves intense engagement of the researcher and research participants in dialogue andco-construction of knowledge. This portrait draws on multiple sources of data, whichderive from several discrete studies related to refugee education in Uganda (see, forexample, Dryden-Peterson, 2003, 2006a, 2006b, 2011). For this essay, I draw on srcinal data that I collected, including 12 hours of life history interviews; three one-hour semi-structured interviews in the context of Bauma ’ s work as a teacher at a research site; seven-teen interviews with Bauma ’ s students and their families; and participant observation atBauma ’ s schools over six years; these research endeavours have also grown into a 14-yearrelationship with Bauma and his family. Most of the interviews and conversations betweenBauma and myself were in French, although some were in English; I have done all of myown translations to English, yet I have included certain short fragments of text in French,with English translations that follow, in order to signal the language of the setting. Inter-views with students and families were conducted in several Bantu languages, with theassistance of a long-term translator and research assistant.I deliberately frame the portrait of Bauma with the vignette of Abroon, above, drawnfrom long-term research with Somali refugees in Kenya with colleague Negin Dahya (see, 16 SARAH DRYDEN-PETERSON
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