|dc.description.abstract||Public opinion, media and literature describe refugees as generally suffering, traumatised,
dependent, helpless victims without power, in need of constant guidance and support in
order to find solutions to their predicament. Humanitarian assistance may be accused of
perpetuating this dependency and disempowerment. To me this may be true of refugees
in encampment. The perception portrayed in the various media is unfitting and a sharp
contrast to the perceptions and experiences of refugees learners encountered in this study.
I questioned for myself the potential image of refugee learners being powerless and
helpless and felt that if all refugees shared that view outlined above, it would worsen their
situation instead of empowering their aspirations, history and capacities. So I chose to ask
the refugee learners.
This led to the purpose and core area of consideration of this study entitled "Perceptions
and experiences of integration for refugee learners."
In this study I focused on refugee learners from African countries Burundi, Democratic
Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Kenya. It offers them a voice and makes them actors in
their own stories. My study is intended to inform the reader of the personal experiences
of refugees within a South African context shedding light on the specifics of access to
and support from social services and other institutional and informal actors.
It was necessary to employ multiple research instruments to analyse the experiences of
refugees who attend the site where I am currently based as an educator. Preliminary
questionnaires completed by refugee learners revealed themes integral to their experience
and perception of integration: living arrangements, social resources, and education. These
themes were further explored one-on-one interviews, focus group discussion and a snap
It is my view that institutional resources already in place by stakeholders are not fully
utilised as refugee learners are often an after-thought in the service provision for citizen
children. Refugee learners encounter difficulties in accessing education facilities and
living arrangements do not consistently meet protection requirements. As a result,
refugee learners frequently experience isolation and confusion regarding their present and
future stakes in South Africa. Based on these findings, this study will make
recommendations for policy design and development of programme for refugee
integration within the broader South African society.||en_US