Abstracts

Theme I – Session 1: Regional, Security and Long-term Development Impacts

(Presentations are 10-12 minutes & Discussion is 10 minutes)

Chaired by: Don Dippo, Professor, Faculty of Education, York University

The Geography of Education in Long-Term Refugee Camps

Jennifer Hyndman (York University)

Refugee camps are always and only temporary ‘stopgap’ measures to protect the lives of people who have fled across a border to seek asylum. However, almost two-thirds of refugees today live in protracted refugee situations (PRS), situations of uncertainty and without full legal status in camps and cities of the global South.

On the one hand, the agencies that administer camps argue that to provide education beyond basic primary or secondary school will further ensconce refugees in place, making it harder to find a solution to their plight. On the other, the average length of time in protracted refugee situations is approximately 17 years, virtually foreclosing on most educational opportunities and ignoring basic human rights. This paper will address this conundrum, and put forth ideas on how to manage this dilemma.

Questions of Scale, Scope and Sustainability: The University of Alberta’s Relationship with Buduburam Refugee Camp

George Richardson (University of Alberta)

This paper will focus on the relationship the University of Alberta has developed with Buduburam Refugee Camp since 2006. The camp, created in 1990 just outside of the Ghanaian capital of Accra was, ultimately, home to more than 35,000 refugees from the Liberian Civil War. Drawing on the different projects in which the U of A has been involved, the presentation explores some of the issues that emerge when post-secondary institutions attempt to work with local NGOs to address the complex needs of large-scale refugee camps.

Looking at the history the University of Alberta has had with Buduburam, three questions will be discussed: On what scale should the relationship be built? What is a reasonable scope of activities? How can the relationship be sustained over time?

The Case of Refugee Education in Kenya; An Analysis of Kakuma and Dadaab

Laura-Ashley Wright (Oxford University)

This study will describe the current educational situation surrounding refugees living in Dadaab and Kakuma camps in Kenya. Through qualitative analysis, it will attempt to ascertain whether educational provision in these camps is relevant to the needs and desires of the refugee population. Additionally, while there is recent international interest in ‘education and conflict’, there has been little research on the effectiveness of current educational programming, as well as on the collective challenges faced by UNHCR and current NGOs working in protracted refugee situations.

The study will outline the organisations providing formal and non-formal educational opportunities in Dadaab and Kakuma, using data collected through interviews, primary documentary research and first-hand observation. It looks to answer the following research questions:

1) How relevant is the provision of education to the needs of refugees in Kenya?

2) What are the key challenges and difficulties in the field of education in the camps?

Findings will outline current gaps not yet addressed by major organisations and will make recommendations on improving educational quality and consistency in areas where provision is inadequate to refugees’ needs.

Theme I – Session 2: Regional, Security and Long-term Development Impacts

(Presentations are 10-12 minutes & Discussion is 10 minutes)

Chaired by: Jackie Strecker (IDRC, CRS)

Teaching in a borderless world: Pedagogies of (dis)location

Kumari Beck (Simon Fraser University)

The roots of Canadian international education lie in development assistance projects initiated in postwar times. Arguing that the design and delivery of international educational programs and services must trace the legacies of the ‘Development Project’ to avoid reifying neocolonial practices, this paper will make a case for transcending the common pitfalls of development and international education. A framework for teaching across borders must identify and interrogate the influences of globalization and its particular characteristics of deterritorialization and disembeddedness, and create principles for pedagogies that can be effective in those conditions. Drawing on Appadurai (process of indigenization) Edwards and Usher (poststructural notion of (dis)location) Homi Bhabha (third space) and contemporary curricular theorists, a framework for learning and teaching will be articulated.

Exploring Paradoxes Around Higher Education in Protracted Refugee Situations

Barbara Zeus (INEE)

This paper will explore three main paradoxes underlying Higher Education in Protracted Refugee Situations both theoretically as well as in relation to the particular case of Burmese refugees in Thailand. In discussing these main paradoxes (relief vs. development, nation-state vs. non-state and victimisation vs. empowerment), this paper aims to highlight and address conceptual obstacles that exist alongside practical challenges on the way towards a global system of Higher Education for Longterm Refugees.

Following a rights-based approach and adopting post-structural theories, this conceptual paper will demonstrate how dominant educational discourse emphasises externalities and thereby neglects the individual’s right to Higher Education from permeating into practice while powerful narratives of refugees as dependent victims have shaped reality in justifying mechanisms for international protection and incapacitating refugees.

The paper suggests that Higher Education could be both a means and an end to refugee empowerment.

Returnees’ Capacity and Peace building: Utility of Exile-Acquired Human Capital

Amanda Coffie (Carleton University)

An urgently needed resource for peace building is human capital, unfortunately this is lacking in many countries engaged in peace building. In this study I suggest that such states could rely on educational qualifications acquired in exile by return migrants. This study is a preliminary discussion of a comparative study of human capital of Liberian returnees from Ghana and Guinea, and their potential role in the peace building process of Liberia. Preliminary findings indicate that about 60% of sampled Liberian returnees from Ghana received post secondary education out of which 10% attained University degrees. Only two sampled Liberian returnees from Guinea received some form of post secondary education. Variations in official languages and security situations of the two host countries (Ghana and Guinea) account for the differences among the groups however, these two cases are typical of most refugee situations across Africa.


From Hope to Action: The Contribution of Unity for Tertiary Refugee Students (UTRS) to Advancing the Right of Refugees to Education

Alice Wamundiya (UTRS)

Refugees began seeking protection in South Africa soon after 1994, when the bans previously imposed by the Apartheid regime on all migrants from the African continent were finally lifted. Shortly afterwards the new South Africa ratified the 1951 Convention and its 1969 Protocol as well as other regional and international refugee and human rights instruments.

South Africa went a step further and developed a national policy on refugees in 1998, its Refugees Act n.130, which drew heavily from South Africa’s progressive constitution and international refugee specific instruments. It accorded certain rights to refugees and asylum seekers under the protection of the South African government. Among these rights was the right to education. The Act stipulated that refugees should benefit from the same treatment as citizens at basic education level, meaning that primary education is free of charge. Access to secondary and tertiary education was also opened up to refugees and asylum seekers but the treatment applicable to them is different from that applied to citizens.

Furthermore the implementation of law was undermined by everyday practices at the level of public institutions and refugees well after the year 2000 were being marginalized, excluded and denied access to tertiary education. As a result, a group of young refugees from secondary and tertiary institutions who had personally experienced a struggle for education came together to find ways to address the issue, not just for themselves but also for the future generations of refugees in South Africa. Their underlying motivation was a combination of survival, determination to acquire an education and being enabled through education to have an opportunity to contribute to their host country.

Unity for Tertiary Refugee Students (UTRS) was born in 2004 as a students’ based association for refugees and asylum seekers and remains so far across the world the only initiative established and managed by refugees at tertiary institutions and refugee young professionals themselves who seek to address their own challenges. In its 6 years of existence, UTRS has undergone many changes, sought to transform itself so as to adapt to the changing needs of its beneficiaries and has developed to the extent of being recognized in South Africa as an NGO in February 2010. Some of its core achievements as well as its challenges and hopes for the future will be shared in this paper.

Theme II – Session 1: The Political and Technical Dimensions of Pedagogy with Mobile Populations: Partnerships

(Presentations are 10-12 minutes & Discussion is 10 minutes)

Chaired by: Wenona Giles (York University, CRS)

The Politics of Tertiary Education for Refugees in a Global Movement for Basic Education

Sarah Dryden-Peterson (OISE, University of Toronto)

In the context of Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), global movements for expanded access to education have focused on basic education (primary and lower secondary). In refugee situations, where at least one-third of camp-based refugees do not have access to primary school, donors and agencies resist supporting tertiary education with arguments that, at great cost, it stands to benefit a small and elite group. At the same time, refugee learners are clear that progression to higher levels of education is integrally connected with their future livelihoods and future stability for their regions of origin. This paper will examine where tertiary education fits within a broader framework of refugee education and the politics of its provision, with attention to the priorities and mandates of UN agencies, NGOs, national governments, and refugees themselves.

Providing Refugees with Tertiary Education: the Example of Burmese Refugees on the Thai-Burma Border

Duncan MacLaren (Australian Catholic University)

The Australian Catholic University (ACU) has been providing tertiary education to Burmese refugees from camps on the Thai-Burma border since 2004. After an introduction to the situation of Burmese refugees in Thailand, this paper will detail the history of the educational methodologies used, gauge their effectiveness and delineate the learning outcomes. The paper will also use original research looking at how former graduates have used their new skills and knowledge, not just for their own benefit but for the common good, especially that of the refugee communities or the communities in diaspora. The paper will conclude with an analysis of the lessons learned from the program to propose models providing quality tertiary education for refugees in other protracted situations throughout the world.

Tertiary Education for Refugees: Beyond Sponsorship

Philip Landon (WUSC):

For over thirty years WUSC’s Student Refugee Program has been working with students on campuses across Canada to sponsor more than 1000 refugees to complete a university degree and resettle in Canada. This constituency of both sponsoring and sponsored students is now looking to do more for the hundreds of thousands in the camps who do not get sponsored. The presentation will focus on recent efforts to improve the quality of secondary education in the camps in preparing students for eventual tertiary education, to provide teacher training and certification for refugee teachers, and to explore means of distance education to address the pressing need for more tertiary opportunities.

Theme II – Session 2: The Political and Technical Dimensions of Pedagogy with Mobile Populations: Programs

(Presentations are 10-12 minutes & Discussion is 10 minutes)

Chaired by: Aida Orgocka, PhD, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University

Assessing the Gaps: Information Communication Technologies and Education

Jacqueline Strecker (IDRC)

In recent years, the proliferation of e-learning approaches have fostered new platforms for the dissemination of ideas and the production of knowledge. Although these systems afforded new opportunities for education, refugees have been isolated from procuring an active role within these systems. The inability for refugees to occupy a participatory role within recently developed online networks, reinstates modernization frames, which present both ‘refugees’ as dependent on western generosity and knowledge. This paper assesses the technological and social gaps which restrict refugee participation.

The Experiences of Plan Canada and York University in the Development of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Post Conflict Situations: a Case Study from Southern Sudan.

Ndungu Kahihu (Plan Canada) & Susan McGrath (CRS)

In 2005, Plan Canada made a decision to start working in conflict and post conflict countries, both in a humanitarian response capacity as well as through a ‘disaster to recovery to development framework.’ In 2006 Plan Canada, with support from other partners established a technical and vocational education program in Southern Sudan. The primary aim was to provide skills for the many youth returnees, following the signing of the CPA, as well as those being demobilized from the SPLA. This paper will examine the experience of Plan Canada and its partners in carrying out this program and the results achieved so far. It will discuss such questions as: what have been the key lessons learned as regards the best way to establish effective entry into a post conflict country? What mistakes did Plan Canada make? What would we do differently today?

Refugees: A Great Human Resource

Njogu Marangu (Windle Trust, Kenya)

Education is not only a fundamental human right, but also a powerful tool to positively transform people and bring them together. Refugees deserve education beyond the basic education. University and middle level college education is vital in refugee lives as it holds the key to their future. It helps build human resources — the medical doctors, engineers, technocrats and other related professionals who one day will use their skills and knowledge to contribute to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of their motherland and bring peace and democracy to the world. Refugees see education as the most important “take-away item.” Refugee parents have little else to bequeath their children when they die, and many are buried in the camps, in a foreign land.

Remedial Education Programs for Girls in Kakuma and Dadaab

Robyn Plasterer (University of British Columbia)

Over the past decade, the average time spent as a refugee has increased from nine to seventeen years, with environmental and political instability exacerbating protracted refugee situations. Structural, cultural and economic factors have inhibited girls’ access to education, implicating their chances for resettlement or local integration and exacerbating exploitation. This workshop will focus on the gendered nature of forced migration and its implications, as well as the dearth of educational opportunities in protracted refugee situations. Using Kakuma and Dadaab as a reference point for discussion, the workshop will investigate remedial education programs for girls, as well as access to IT, secondary schooling, and scholarships in Kenyan refugee camps.

Theme II – Session 3: The Political and Technical Dimensions of Pedagogy with Mobile Populations: Programs

(Presentations are 10-12 minutes & Discussion is 10 minutes)

Chaired by: Joseph Mensah, PhD, Associate Professor of Geography & Coordinator of International Development Studies, York University.


Re-spacing Educational Rights for Long-term Refugees through Tertiary Education

Ranu Basu (York University)

This paper explores the complex relations between tertiary education, space, and statelessness; and its political, social, economic implications on long term refugees in protracted situations. Recognizing the rights to education extending beyond the confines of primary education and to a more materially based tertiary education, suggests that the spatialities of these extended opportunities need to be stretched and critically reconsidered. This paper evaluates the spatialities of three particular cases as they relate to educational rights:

1) institutional support for urban refugees; 2) cross border networks and alliances; 3) local creativity and agency within camp spaces. Durable solutions for maintaining and building tertiary educational rights for knowledge are explored.

Unwelcome Guests: The Struggle of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa To Access Tertiary Education and Remain in the System

Elizabeth Mary Lanzi Mazzocchini (UTRS)

South Africa is one of the main recipients of asylum claims worldwide. In 2009 it hosted over 43,000 refugees and approximately 230,000 asylum seekers. Among these some strive to rebuild their lives by accessing education opportunities with a view to maximizing their chances of integration in the host country’s society and job market.

The paper will present the main research findings of a study undertaken in 2008 which documented and analyzed the integration of 60 refugees and asylum seekers pursuing tertiary studies in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

A core objective of the study was to identify the factors currently impeding or limiting access to tertiary education for refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the recurring challenges they are faced with during their time at university. One of the main findings was the gap between the legal framework (the theory) which accords refugees the right to study at tertiary education and the reality on the ground they experience daily (the practice).

The study found that almost 1 in 2 refugee students had a university degree before arriving in South Africa and 37% are studying towards degrees which are not their preferred choice. They adopt local coping strategies to cover tuition fees and support their families; hence 70% have low skilled or unskilled occupations, many work night shifts as security guards, waiters or car guards. Study abandonment happens frequently as there comes a point where some cannot cope.

The absence of a national policy, minimum standards or guidelines to tertiary institutions overseeing treatment applicable to refugees and asylum seekers, has created a situation whereby different – and often unwritten – policies are developed and applied across tertiary institutions in the country. Furthermore key university offices continue to deal with the problems of refugee and asylum seeker students on an ad hoc basis. In this context the students and prospective students are continuously caught up in administrative stalemates and are faced with university staff who are rarely aware of the meaning of “refugee”, have no knowledge whatsoever about refugee rights and often relate to them based on stereotypes and prejudice, as is often the case also within the local student community where social inclusion actions remain scarce.

The paper will further describe the extent of the involvement of local NGOs, UNHCR and student grassroots initiatives, including Unity for Tertiary Refugee Students (UTRS).

Experiences and Opportunities in the Provision of Tertiary Education for Refugees on the Thailand-Burma Border

Simon Purnell (ZOA)

This paper will focus on four key topics and will draw on the experiences of providers of tertiary education for refugees in the context of the Thailand-Burma border and the challenges that have been faced in developing concrete opportunities for refugees from this setting.

The first section will focus on the development of post-secondary education and access to tertiary education, providing an overview of the successes and failures to date. It will look at the different forms of education provided and the role that these forms of education were seen to playing for the future of the refugee caseload from Burma. The second section of the paper will highlight the gaps that existed in education provision and the coping mechanisms that were taken to cover these gaps, both inside the camps and through the provision of unofficial courses outside the camps.

The third section of the paper will look at why these forms of education were seen to be of high importance to provide and the impact of the lack of opportunities was having on the education and formation of a new generation that had grown up largely in the camp environment.

The fourth part of this paper will look at lessons learnt by course providers and NGOs in this setting and the ways that alternatives have been developed and are being developed to react to the new sets of challenges that have been faced. It will also reflect on what possibilities exist for ensuring that there is the opportunity for refugees from Burma in the camps (and possibly in other protracted settings) to be able to study at the tertiary level.

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