Abdikadir Bare Abikar, Member of the Dadaab Response Association, Graduate of the Master of Education, York University
Borderless Higher Education for Refugees Program
This paper is a modified version of a Major Research Paper for the Master of Education degree at York University as part of the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees project, which provides virtual education to refugees in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. In this paper, I employ an action research methodology to argue that, in order to improve the capacity of novice and untrained teachers in schools in the Dadaab refugee complex, local educational actors need to introduce in-service professional learning opportunities to better prepare teachers who have not had the chance to pursue educational opportunities past their secondary studies. The purpose of this study was to first listen and learn from the experiences of employees at Hareed Primary School and to investigate the in-service education needed by untrained teachers in a refugee camp in Dadaab. Phase one of the research was a pre-workshop survey that asked participants questions about any educational training they have received, and their challenges. Phase two involved developing and implementing workshops for novice/untrained educators that modelled how a professional learning community works, and provided modified BHER teacher educational content for new/untrained teachers. Phase three of my study evaluated the impact of the workshops on the development of professional learning communities and if teacher attitudes or behaviors were transformed. My analysis of the data found that the professional learning community improved teacher confidence and positively changed dispositions toward collaboration and ongoing community-driven learning, as well as improved use of technology tools in and outside of the classroom. I conclude with recommendations for present policy and future research within Dadaab and beyond. I think some obvious challenges facing the PLC’s sustainability will be that some of the teachers have been working with minimal administrative supervision. I fear that if the school does not support their continued collaboration, the community may not continue to fully coordinate and cooperate, which would cause the collapse of the professional learning community that we developed. The first recommendation is that the school administration supports the Professional Learning Community to ensure its sustainability. Given the positive impact of this community, I strongly support the idea that other schools should organize similar continual in-service training in the Dadaab camps, using as an untapped resource the teachers that have already been trained at Hareed and the qualified refugee teachers who have been educated in the BHER project, and who now understand the power of creating professional learning communities to empower teachers.