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Title: East African Refugee Camps as learning assemblages : the built environment as an educational resource for encamped young children in the East African Rift
Author: Amoros Elorduy, Nerea
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 5348
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Around 66 long-term refugee camps, hosting some 1.5 million people, exist currently along the East African Rift. Many have existed for decades. The humanitarian assistance destined for them is dwindling, affected by donor fatigue and new pressing emergencies in other geographies. This impacts on the life of the encamped and their neighbours on many levels. In the last ten years, early childhood education has gained relevance in humanitarian assistance programming. From 2011 onwards, donors and camp managers have begun to focus attention and invest funds into centralised education facilities for the many three to six year olds who live in encampment. In light of these changes, this research seeks to elucidate the relationship between the built environment of the long-term refugee camps in the East African Rift and the learning processes of the young children who are born and raised there. A thorough study of these initial efforts is timely as few cases are currently standardised and replicated globally by the humanitarian apparatus. The aim of this research by architectural design is fourfold: to test architecture as a tool to produce novel data on the cases studied by including local voices; to understand the extent to which encamped children learn from the spaces they inhabit; to understand which actors create and modify such spaces; and, finally, to explore architectural strategies for improving the camps' learning environments. In this investigation, I used a multi-method qualitative approach including architectural, ethnographic and Participatory Action Research methods, and I draw on urban, assemblage, and actor-network theories. I first mapped and examined with an urban lens the built environment of seven camps in Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda, tracing the causes and ramifications of their spatiotemporal variation. Second, I collected and analysed the perceptions of children, parents, caregivers, and NGO members regarding the camps built environments as a learning source. Lastly I co-developed design speculations for two Rwandan camps with local refugees and architecture students. My findings show: - The whole built environment of a camp is a learning source, and its classification into formal, non-formal and informal learning environments can guide more effective refugee education policies. - Informal learning environments are paramount for young children and are primarily (re)produced by refugees and direct local hosts. Consequently, these environments and the role of refugees are unaccounted for in refugee education policies and in refugee camp planning and maintenance programs. - Architecture and design are useful tools for promoting the inclusion of long-marginalised voices in knowledge production circles and for improving the camps diverse learning environments. This research portrays a nuanced picture of the camps I have studied, it calls for empathic and contextualised approaches to both encamped refugee education programs and the maintenance strategies of the camps built environments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available