Constraints in accessing education among refugee children in Meheba refugee settlement in North Western Province of Zambia
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Zambia has a long history of hosting refugees from different parts of Africa running away from strife and civil wars since its independence in 1964. These refugees once settled, they have many challenges in accessing education. The purpose of this study was to establish the constraints of accessing education among refugee children in Meheba Refugee Settlement. A qualitative study grounded in modified critical realism and informed by existential phenomenology was used. A total of 116 individuals actively participated in the study that is 38 parents and guardians, 76 children and 2 education coordinators. 21 individual interviews with children and 28 with parents and guardians were conducted. Seven focus group discussions were held of which three were with children and four with parents and guardians. The life of a refugee is not an easy one. Refugees lived a sad, desperate, and hopeless life in the settlement that they could not support their children going to school. Two subthemes describe the hard life. The first relates to physical hardships and the second one is associated with mental hardships. Under these two sub-themes support for the children’s education was not possible. Numerous constraints stand between getting an education and not getting any. The constraints were either personally mediated, parental mediated, policy mediated or cultural mediated. The positions refugee children have regarding opting schooling or staying away demonstrated dual motives. These are (a) because of motives and (b) in order to motives. Because motives were reasons or actions that had a bearing into the past experiences and prominent among them were early marriages and Domestic work. In order to motives were reasons or actions made that had a bearing into bringing certain future states of affairs about and these were centred on an uncertain future, preferential scholarships offered to refugee children by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and preferences that refuges had that favoured earning a living. The root causes of failure or refusal to get into school are varied and interrelated, and it is difficult to identify direct causality in any general sense. However, what was noted in the ﬁndings was the prevalence of refugee mediated causes and factors that were possibly beyond the control of the refugees and these were attributed to the Zambian government and the Unite Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). While categories and sub-categories of challenges that were highlighted in the themes continue to be unaddressed, refined the general population of refugees will continue to be encapsulated within the ubiquitous designations of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or trauma-related problems. The study outcomes suggest that more targeted attention must be paid to the larger family environment to maximize the potential of refugee youth-focused educational and psychosocial interventions. However, this should be extended to parents or guardians. Periodic health visits and availability of psycho social counselling are needed for refugees. Within the precincts of the findings and looking at the challenges faced by refugee children and their parents or guardians, there is need for mitigation of the situation in Maheba. A survey needs to be done so that the specific vulnerabilities and needs are profiled.
- Education