Preparing for Uncertainty: Exploring Access to Higher Education in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi
Donald, Heather Anne
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Against a backdrop of increasingly protracted refugee situations worldwide and on the continent of Africa in particular, education is imperative to facilitate the ability of displaced persons to voice their concerns and ambitions. Drawing on fieldwork carried out in Dzaleka Refugee camp in Malawi during Summer 2013, this thesis adopts an Afro-centered approach to studying the relationship between education and development. Utilizing oral histories and interviews, it explores educational access, the displacement of young people and their desire for higher education. This desire is linked to first, a self-realization that is expressed as control over their lives in a context of heightened uncertainty and second, an increased potential to contribute to the current betterment of their own and their families’ lives. Despite increasingly protracted situations for refugees and mixed migrants in Malawi, it is extremely difficult to find cartographic evidence of Dzaleka’s existence amongst other documentation of forced migration in the region. This thesis works collaboratively with refugee youth narrators to bring visibility to the place they live. Moreover, this work contributes to the view that those described as refugees in protracted refugee situations can contribute to a discursive and structural shift by ‘self-authoring’ their own development. Access to higher education is recognized as one of the key ways to enable and support this shift.