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Hidden curricula revealed : a case study of Dadaab refugee camp schools Karangu, Philip Kimani


Within the field of Curriculum studies, a large part of the research literature portrays schools as places where formal curriculum translates into learning experiences. However, some literature acknowledge the existence of ‘other’ curricula––unintended, hidden or inexplicit––which also influence teaching and learning activities within school contexts. While such research recognizes informal, hidden curricula at work, most findings reference Western contexts. Limited literature and understanding exist on the nature of hidden curricula across non-Western contexts. This research inquires into the existence of hidden curricula and influences within a refugee camp context, the case of Dadaab refugee camp in Northeastern Kenya. Dadaab refugee camp is the largest encampment in the world. Its formal curriculum is adopted from the host country, Kenya. I framed this case study within a social constructivist framework to investigate the question: What are hidden (unwritten) curricula revealed in how the teachers in Dadaab refugee camp schools interpret and implement the formal (written) curriculum? Framed as a case study, I collected data from interviews with teachers and students in schools within Dadaab refugee camp. I visited the schools and conducted semi-structured, individual face-to-face interviews with the participants. My limited observations of both classroom environments and school routines complemented the interviews. These observations became critical to framing the interview questions and particularly follow-up questions seeking clarification during interviews. Analysis of the data corpus revealed six key broad themes that describe hidden curricula within the schools’ learning contexts: 1) curriculum of trust and alliance; 2) curriculum of what is at stake; 3) curriculum of communal benefit; 4) curriculum and pedagogy of oppression; 5) curriculum of silence and conspiracy; and 6) curriculum of culture and religion. The findings offer significant insight into how hidden curricula operates, as unnamed, obscured and even invisible to teachers in their practice.

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