Where have all the teachers gone? Why there are never any teachers in Africa’s refugee camps and what can we do about it

Where have all the teachers gone? Why there are never any teachers in Africa’s refugee camps and what we can do about it, is chapter 10 of Next steps in managing teacher migration: papers of the sixth Commonwealth research symposium on teacher mobility, recruitment and migration.

When it is time to start formal education soon after a population has arrived in a refugee or displaced persons’ camp, or has been isolated by war, there is a lack of available of qualified teachers. Using specific examples from Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia, this paper argues that refugees, like anyone else, are rationally motivated by the availability of income. Thus the inability or unwillingness to pay teachers a competitive wage in refugee camps or to give them contracts is seen as a deciding factor for people who already have salaries. The shortfall in the teaching force means it becomes necessary to create a teaching force rapidly.

With little academic literature on these subjects, this paper uses examples from 20 years’ of participant-observation by the researcher to provide an overview of the situation and provide recommendations. Examples include: providing training and support to volunteer teachers in temporary primary schools in displaced people’s camps in Khartoum; training teachers in the then Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)-held areas of the South of Sudan using a modular training system; primary teacher training in Somalia;  the need to educate large numbers of children from AIDS-affected families in Zambia when the teachers were also affected; and experiences from Francophone countries: Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad, where a French version of Be a Better Teacher (‘le Bon Enseignant’) was used to enable teachers to be trained in-service.

This paper is available on pages 88-93 in the publication. 

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