Education and Training Initiatives at the Central Methodist Church Refugee House in Johannesburg
Zimbabwean economic migrants and political refugees have been given refuge and provided with shelter at the Central Methodist Church (CMC) Refugee House, in central Johannesburg. The refugees have successfully initiated learning and training programmes which resulted in the establishment of a combined school, namely St Albert Street Refugee School, an adult education programme, a pre-school, an infant day care, an Adult Basic Education Training (ABET) and vocational training centres for sewing, basic computer studies and waitering courses. The research presented here was conducted over a period of five months. It used an ethnographic approach and employed three primary strategies for gathering data: non-participant observation, interviewing and document collection. Using the theoretical framework of the Community Based Approach (CBA) to refugee education development, the article explains how the weekly refugee and School Council meetings served as forums for initiating education and training programmes and for important decisions that influenced the refugees’ education and training policies and curriculum guidelines. The Refugee School’s adoption of a modified Cambridge curriculum resulted in ‘Renewed education for repatriation’, whilst the vocational skills centres orientated themselves towards the ‘Adjusted education for integration’, which prepares adult refugees to integrate into the host country’s economic communities.
Keywords: refugee-emergency education, Community Based Approach (CBA), Central Methodist Church (CMC).