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Kenyan national teachers teaching in schools in a long-term refugee camp : addressing education crisis in the refugee camp Karangu, Philip Kimani


Access to schooling for children and youth in long-term refugee is a right and necessity. Kenya is host to refugees living in Dadaab, one of world’s largest long-term refugee camps. Although there are trained and untrained refugee teachers working in Dadaab camp schools, among them, are non-refugees Kenyan nationally trained teachers. Very little is known about these teachers’ experience teaching in the complex context of a refugee camp. This study investigates and reports accounts conveyed in narratives of non-refugee Kenyan national teachers’ pedagogical perspectives and living experiences in Dadaab refugee camp. Nine Kenyan national teachers participated in this study. Principles of narrative methodology were applied to collect data, which involved in-depth and semi-structured interviews. The study employed an Afrocentric lens centering African humanistic philosophy of Utu/Ubuntu as a framework to read and better understand the teachers’ context and their stories. The study investigated the following questions: i) What are the Kenyan national teachers' narratives of teaching experiences and implied meanings, understandings of the relationship between education in refugee camps and host communities? ii) What aspects of the narratives are in concert or conflict with the Afrocentric value of Utu/Ubuntu (you are because I am; I am because you are)? iii) What implications might the study’s findings have on global conceptualization of refugee education? A summary of the key study findings indicate that national teachers: 1) considered Dadaab as a non-family zone and risky place; 2) perceived Dadaab as place steeped in cultural and religious complexities; 3) appreciated Dadaab schools for offering noble opportunities for instructional skill deployment, refinement and retooling expertise; 4) noticed the only educational incentives and scholarships slipping away due to students’ low academic performance, manifested in panic and depression among students; and 5) considered teaching as a humane act. These results provide deep insights into how non-refugee teachers experience teaching in a refugee camp and the implications for the ways educational issues need to be addressed within refugee camps from national teachers’ perspectives.

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