Refugee-Centred Education: Making Community Engagement Central Rather than Peripheral to Pre-service Teacher Professional Development

By Loshini Naidoo.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Refugee Action Support program in the School of Education, University of Western Sydney, represents a significant contribution to the life of the refugee student in public high schools in Western Sydney. The Refugee Action Support (RAS) program began in 2007 as a collaborative effort between the University of Western Sydney (UWS), the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF), and the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Training (DET). Its aim is two-fold. First and foremost, it provides targeted literacy and numeracy support to humanitarian refugee students who have transitioned, within the previous two years, from Intensive English Centres (IECs) to mainstream secondary schools. Second, it builds the pedagogical and cultural understandings of the pre-service teachers undertaking the Master of Teaching at the University of Western Sydney, who provide support through individual and/or small group tuition in after-school tuition centres. The histories and realities of refugee students create considerable transitional and resettlement challenges including learning English; work opportunities; educational aspirations and family concerns. For young refugees, this also means having to quickly adapt to, and be able to negotiate, not only their formal, academic development and skills, which are for many undertaken with no literacy in any language, but also aspects of the hidden curriculum in schools. These challenges occur at the same time that they are learning a new language, adapting to different socio-cultural expectations and negotiating their new environment. This presentation evaluates the RAS program in terms of its preparation and support of refugee students and the extent to which the pedagogical features of the program assist in the resettlement of this unique group of learners

Keywords: Education, Refugees, Diversity, Literacy, Pedagogy

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp.35-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.220MB).

Dr. Loshini Naidoo

Lecturer, School of Education, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Loshini Naidoo is a lecturer in sociology in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. Her academic areas of interest include social justice, cultural diversity and difference and pedagogy and globalisation. Her current research is related to refugee issues particularly literacy amongst newly arrived African refugees in Western and South Western Sydney secondary schools. Her other research interests include transnationalism, issues of globalisation and localisation and identity construction in diasporic communities in Sydney.


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