Curriculum development in an urban refugee centre in South Africa.
The Zimbabwean refugees sheltered at Holy Cross Church* in central Johannesburg have taken the initiative to develop their own curriculum. There have been many orientations to curriculum development with current reconceptualisations emphasising practical and descriptive curriculum development approaches. This research is framed specifically by Walker’s naturalistic curriculum development model, the community-based approach to education development, literature on refugee education and generally by broader theories of curriculum. The study employed the ethnographic research method and gathered data through non-participant observation, interviews and document analysis. Taking a wider approach to curriculum development and in the context of displaced people, the research redefined the term curriculum developer to mean ordinary people and refugees in their communal social setting. This study provides an analysis and description of how the refugees successfully initiated and developed effective learning and training programmes which resulted in the establishment of a school, early childhood, adult-education and vocational training centres. The refugee meetings and school council deliberation forums guided by common values and political, social and economic factors made practically defensible, education and training resolutions on language, school policies, curriculum options, pedagogy, knowledge and certification issues. On the forms of refugee-emergency education, the refugee school curriculum followed that of the country of origin, with some minor modifications thereby preparing learners for return to their country. The training programmes utilised a slightly adjusted curriculum of the host country in synergies with local private colleges and prepared the refugees to integrate into the host country’s economic communities. To improve the quality of education and training at Holy Cross there is need for intervention from government and international humanitarian organisations. In addition to the academic curriculum, subjects with a social reconstructionist ideology, double-shift schooling and democratic teaching and learning approaches must be introduced as well as awarding refugees with regionally recognised training certificates.
Refugee education, Emergency education, Refugees, Community-based approach, Naturalistic approach, Curriculum development, Deliberation, Values, Beliefs