Teaching to make a difference - Working with African Refugee Students
Teaching to make a difference is an action research project that grew out of the Sudanese Leaning and Literacy Alliance (SLLA) at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and funded in part by the UWS Office of Research Services and in part by the UWS Regional Council.
There has been an influx of school-aged African refugees into Greater Western Sydney (GWS) over the last five years. Meeting the particular social and educational needs of this group is a challenge for the teachers and the schools. For the students, the demands and expectations of the Australian education system are new and foreign.
The students come from highly developed oral cultures and they may be fluent in two or more languages. However they may not have literacy or numeracy skills. They may not have the pre-literacy skills that we tend to take for granted of holding a pen or understanding the use of a book. They can also be suffering from trauma, dislocation and loss. In carrying out this project, UWS formed research partnerships with the NSW Department of Education and Training, the Catholic Education Office, and the Australian National Schools Network (ANSN).
The schools that participated in the project have chosen to remain anonymous.
Three teachers in the research circles have written up Snapshots based on their experience working with African refugee students. They offer their own experience, reflections and strategies for the support of other teachers working with similar students.