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English is must to us: languages and education in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya

By Vicky Khasandi-Telewa


This thesis explores the interaction between context and attitude in the languagein- education experiences of multilingual refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya, East Africa. The aim was to discover how they respond to policy and practice in language-in-education and the macro-societal influences that affect their attitudes. I wanted to find out the realities the refugee learners face as a corollary of the policy and practice, and their responses towards these realities. I used an approach based on Critical Ethnography to collect and analyse the data. This generated a diversity of data, allowing for triangulation. I drew on several theoretical frameworks to explore the diverse themes emerging from the data: Cummins' (2000) Transformative Pedagogy, Phillipson's (1992, 1999) Linguistic Imperialism, and Kachru's (1983, 1994) World Englishes. I found that the provision of language education for the refugees follows the mainstream Kenyan policy, a relic of colonialism, whereby English is the medium of instruction from Class Four onwards. Mother tongues or Swahili may, in theory, be used for the lower classes but the practice is often not so. Many refugees have a love-hate relationship with English. They find it hard to master, yet like it as a passport to resettlement, jobs and further education. A few appreciate Swahili but many ofthe Sudanese find it burdensome and unnecessary. Arabic, French and Mother tongues are both appreciated and disliked, but most find their usefulness reduced. The learners face harsh realities, as most not only have to learn the new languages but also have them used as media of instruction. They devise a range of strategies to respond to these realities, for instance, making their way into English Language support classes even if by trickery .and impersonation. This study seeks to contribute to the research literature by exploring how context and attitude affect each other in the education of learners in the temporary setting of a refugee camp

Topics: PE
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2408

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