Year-end Program Highlights & Experiential Education In DadaabDadaab Kenya
York University - a member of BHERAuthor: York University - CLCC Member
In 2019, York University continued to offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs to refugees and locals in the encampments of Dadaab, Kenya through the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) Project. The BHER Project focuses on providing equitable and accredited teacher education programs to untrained and working teachers in Northeast Kenya. York University currently offers a Certificate in Educational Studies (Elementary), a B.A. in Educational Studies, and an M.Ed. in Language, Culture, and Teaching to refugees and locals in Dadaab, Kenya.
In December 2019, faculty and staff from York University in Canada as well as Kenyatta University in Kenya came together for a three-day workshop to co-create and co-develop courses to be taught to BHER students. YU and KU have worked together over the past 6 years to deliver higher education programs in Dadaab. Each institution has built considerable knowledge and expertise, but programs ran parallel to one another and there were few opportunities for faculty members from KU and YU to share knowledge and practices A group photo of York University undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and field partners at the conclusion of the YU Research Symposium “Education in Action” where students presented their year-long action research projects. The curriculum development workshop provided an opportunity for faculty to collaborate and share ideas, pedagogical approaches, resources, and institutional knowledge by co-creating courses built on the expertise of Kenyan and Canadian teacher educators. Through this collaboration, we hope to increase the effectiveness of Kenyan and Canadian universities to deliver quality university programs in emergency contexts like Dadaab.
In the spring of 2019, York organized the first Research Symposium in Dadaab titled ‘Education in Action’. Undergraduate and graduate students presented their year-long action research projects in a 2-day event which culminated in a panel discussion by the master’s students whose presentation was also live-streamed to the York Graduate Students in Education (YGSE) conference taking place in Toronto. Both undergraduate and graduate students also presented excellent panels on their research projects at the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS) via Zoom in May. A group of master’s students also co-authored an article titled ‘Educating for Return: Somali Refugees in Dadaab’ that was published in Oxford University’s Forced Migration Review in the fall. Several of our students also participated in co-authoring chapters for a BHER book A snapshot of discussions taking place at the first York University Research Symposium in Dadaab, Kenya. Our students see themselves as action researchers, engaging critically with, and contributing to academic knowledge production in the field of (but not limited to) refugee and forced migration studies.
Feature on Pilot Practicum Course: Experiential Education in Dadaab
In the Fall of 2019, York University offered a year-long practicum course to certificate students titled Experience, Inquire, Contribute: Systematic Observation in Context. This was a course that offered our students the opportunity to engage in situated learning about the creation and delivery of professional development workshops for untrained teachers in Dadaab schools, where over 70 percent of refugee teachers only have a secondary education.
All our students currently enrolled in the certificate program are working teachers in Dadaab. The BHER Project applied a deliberate strategy to admit at least 1-2 teachers from every primary school in Dadaab into this cohort of students. The practicum course was developed to enhance the capacity of our students who are working as teachers in the camps, not only by providing them with a university education, but also by training them to become curriculum leaders, in-house professional development trainers, and pedagogical innovators and mentors in their schools and community organizations. Drawing on the knowledge and skills they learn in their courses, this practicum course provides our students with the opportunity to
- Develop field-based inquiry skills by engaging with their settings and critically analyzing the professional learning needs of their peers and colleagues.
- Hone their knowledge mobilization skills by developing professional development workshops that respond to these needs with the content they learn in their coursework. This “train-thetrainer” model was developed to address the problem of untrained teachers and identifies one potential solution as drawing on on-site, in-house resources.
It is our hope that such opportunities for experiential education will help our students develop the skills and abilities that will enable them to become effective agents of change in their schools and communities in northeast Kenya, Somalia, and beyond.
To read other stories from the 2019 CLCC Yearbook, click here.