Love as a Critical Act of Resistance: Teaching Refugee Children in Disquieting Times


Educational organisations must address the needs of refugees and migrants and mitigate the concerns and prejudices of local communities, yet little is known about how teachers are addressing these challenges. Since its democracy in 1994, the influx of refugees into South Africa has increased rapidly. African refugees in South Africa have become the new other, and are most likely occupy the lowest rungs of the new order, facing issues of exclusion and marginalisation. When people arrive in a new country, the pressure to adapt is foremost. For children, this means going to school. Refugee children are a specific vulnerable group in the South African society. In terms of the South African Constitution, refugee children are equally entitled to the right to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services, and social services in section 28(1)(c) and basic education in section 29(1)(a). Given this context, teachers face uphill challenges in coping with the diversity introduced by the introduction of refugee children. Yet, any discussion about educating refugee children must include an examination of the teachers charged with their care and schooling. Are teachers prepared to respond appropriately to the needs of refugees? In this paper I propose a humanising pedagogy, love as a critical act of resistance, hope and resilience as concepts to address core challenges encountered by teachers in the country and submit for consideration implications for teaching refugee children. The framework is relevant, not only to the South African context, but worldwide.

Author Information
Leila Kajee, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2023
Stream: Education

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon