African students from refugee backgrounds in Australian TAFE institutes: a case for transformative learning goals and processes
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Australian Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions are perhaps the most heterogeneous of the nation's educational sectors. However, their capacity to provide inclusive education is constrained by their curriculum focus and pedagogical practices and culturally-premised assumptions that may inhibit learning for students from diverse cultural backgrounds and life experiences. This paper reports a study that investigated the experiences of learning for African students from refugee backgrounds in TAFE institutions. Adopting phenomenological methodology, the paper illuminates ways in which the students' earlier and current experiences shape their learning at TAFE institutions. The findings indicate that, while greatly appreciating being in a safe environment, African students from refugee backgrounds nevertheless experience racial discrimination and social exclusion as they resettle in Australia. Also, the pedagogical practices at TAFE institutions do not always recognise or accommodate their socio-cultural backgrounds and refugee life experiences. In all, the 'experienced curriculum' created unhelpful dissonance's for these students. Consequently, the paper argues that in order to benefit more fully from their educational experiences in TAFE and more effectively engage in Australian society, including employment, African students from refugee backgrounds require particular interventions from these institutions and those who teach in them. It is proposed that a transformative learning approach is required for these students in TAFE institutions.
International Journal of Training Research
© 2009 e-Content Management Pty Ltd. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version
Education not elsewhere classified