Why training for adults? Refugee’s systems and support for empowerment

Reposted from the Center on Conflict and Development

As I began to discuss in my introduction post, I am using visual methodologies to understand empowerment in diverse adult education classrooms in Dadaab. The content of the training has thus far in the pre-dissertation process, been diverse. Last year, I spent two months in Dadaab and attended in-service teacher training for teachers working with over-age or out of school learners. I also attended training for parents of children with disabilities who were beginning to send their children to school. I sat in on training for program staff who were learning about gendered components of livelihoods programs (usually small income generating activities done in the camps). This year, with the support of SMGP and the Center for Conflict and Development at Texas A&M, I’ve attended training related to Sexual and Gender Based Violence for youth community workers. I will identify additional training with the support of local partners and hope to observe and use visual methods to document and collect data from at least three trainings.

But why focus on training for adults? And why focus on empowerment? First, adults in the camps around Dadaab have often missed out on formal education, lack literacy skills, or lack other skills that could support their futures both within the camps and beyond. The camp setting in Dadaab is restrictive, with a new curfew imposed after the Garissa University attack and a lack of freedom of movement for refugees in the camps. Employment is severely restricted as well, leading to increases in informal economy such as small businesses, entrepreneurial activities, and the potential of online work for refugees with the requisite skills. Thus, training for adults is extremely prevalent as a solution to the lack of skills and educational access, in the hopes of preparing refugees for life outside the camps.

Empowerment is a typical focus of training. In fact, last summer, in a conversation over dinner at the canteen on the compound, one NGO worker told me that all training intends to empower the learners in Dadaab. Since that time, through my participation in trainings on such diverse topics and discussion with trainers, empowerment has been dissected and reapplied. Most interestingly for me, the diversity of the trainings I attend allows me to think about empowerment in a variety of ways and to look for themes that transcend “context specific” situations. The idea is to use visual tools to prompt discussion about empowerment (and power) in the everyday lives and programs of learners and trainers.

Photos to come. Waiting to get the ok for a meeting on Monday!


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