Focusing on the future: Congolese students’ perceptions of and experiences with secondary education in Nyarugusu Camp
Doctor of Philosophy
Education in emergencies
Protracted refugee camp settings
Constructivist grounded theory
Secondary education ( Nyarugusu Camp)
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In Nyarugusu Camp, one of the world’s largest refugee camps, only 7% of youth are enrolled in secondary school. While literature on refugee education has focused almost exclusively on organizational aspects of planning and monitoring education, this study utilized a symbolic interactionist framework and constructivist grounded theory methods to explore youths’ perceptions of and experiences with education, in an attempt to better understand what it means to be a secondary school student in the camp. Thirty-one written response participants and fifteen individual interview participants shared their thoughts and experiences surrounding how their perceptions of education develop and are supported by family and community attitudes and reactions. The findings highlighted some of the ways in which perceptions of education are both developed and confirmed. Findings also revealed that youth face numerous challenges in their pursuit of secondary education, but that they cope with these challenges by “toughing it out,” or focusing on the potential of the future, in providing both their basic needs and a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, should they reach their goal of completing secondary education. Overall, this study adds substantively to the small, but growing, body of independent research on refugees in refugee camp situations. In particular, this study adds to the understanding of the educational perceptions and experiences of Congolese youth, specifically, in Nyarugusu Camp, which is one of the world’s oldest and largest, but often more forgotten, refugee camps.