The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

School and Social Encounters: Refugee Youth Vulnerabilities, Resistance and Resilience

Leila Kajee, University of Johannesburg (South Africa)


There are more than 117 million people worldwide who are forcibly displaced or stateless (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2023). The refugee crisis has placed many countries worldwide under considerable pressure to accommodate and integrate large numbers of refugees. This is a contemporary reality, and South Africa is no exception. Refugee youth are a predominantly vulnerable group because of forced displacement. Their educational needs are not always met by already overburdened educational systems, which hinder the potential for integration and success. It is unquestionable that refugees experience emotional stress, inadequate social support, and trauma. Children are likely treated as a homogenous group, despite their diverse national, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds and circumstances (Taylor & Sidhu, 2012). They will respond to school differently, dependent on all these individual and contextual factors. Yet, they are undeniably resilient. There is increasing need for teachers who are reflexive, responsive, and who practice pedagogies of humanisation and love. In this paper I focus on how refugee youth encounter school and social spaces and how we may address teaching diverse student bodies through theories of resilience and humanisation. To examine these concerns, I report on interviews conducted with refugee youth in Johannesburg, South Africa.



Refugee youth, resilience, humanising pedagogy, teaching as an act of love



Grandi, F. (2023) Global Refugee Forum Opening remarks of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. UNHCR.


Taylor, S. & Sidhu, R.K. (2012) Supporting refugee students in schools: what constitutes inclusive education?, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 16:1, 39-56, DOI: 10.1080/13603110903560085 To link to this article:



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