Lost in transition: the barriers to educational access for school-age Zimbabwe migrant children in South Africa and the influences of institutional and social networks on overcoming them

Buckland, Stephanie Helen (2011) Lost in transition: the barriers to educational access for school-age Zimbabwe migrant children in South Africa and the influences of institutional and social networks on overcoming them. Doctoral thesis (EdD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis aims to deepen our understanding of the barriers that migrant children face
in accessing quality education in their host country. It has identified gaps in the
research on education of cross-border migrant children in a setting which promotes
integration into the host community, and which does not use camps. The research is
based in a small border town in northern South Africa and focuses on the recent influx
of Zimbabwean migrants into South Africa as a result of political crisis and economic
collapse in their homeland. This community was chosen because it is believed to be
illustrative of the broader problems faced by cross-border migrant children.

The thesis is structured around three central questions, focusing on (i) understanding
who these migrant children are and their reasons for migration, (ii) the barriers they
face in accessing quality basic education and (iii) the social and institutional networks
that influence these children and the role the networks play in overcoming these
barriers. The research examines the role of the state and the international community
in the provision of support for this marginalised group. It further assesses the influence
of social and institutional networks on migrants and the tactics they employ to
overcome the barriers to educational success.

The study used both quantitative and qualitative research methods, with the majority
of data collected through an in-depth survey of 100 migrant children, between the
ages of 6 and 17, and 35 parent/guardians. In addition, focus group discussions with
teachers and interviews with 12 school principals were conducted. The views of
members of the local Municipality involved with migrant children were also sought. The literature review revealed that, while there has been some research on barriers to
education in camp settings, there is very limited research on educational access for
migrant children integrating into host communities. This study has been able to
contribute to this thin body of knowledge by demonstrating that as well as facing the
traditional educational access barriers (lack of infrastructure, educational costs,
enrolment requirements and social exclusion), integrating migrant children are faced
with additional access barriers largely linked to their legal status (civil status,
residence, status of guardians).

The research identified the difficulties of obtaining the necessary legal status and some
important shortcomings of the current migrant classification system. Getting the right
documentation to obtain legal status often placed unreasonable burdens on the
children and forced them into a catch 22 situation where they needed to return to
their homeland to procure documents required for admission to school but doing so
automatically invalidated the claims to refugee status. This particular study also
highlighted the difficulty in classifying migrants who have fled from a country
(Zimbabwe) that is not officially recognised as a conflict zone despite the
characteristics of the Zimbabwean migrant situation being largely indistinguishable
from classical conflict driven migration.

The thesis concludes by recommending steps to change the definition and typology of
migrants and points to the policy changes, with regard to support of migrant children
that are required. The definitions should be changed to cater for the individual needs
of the children so that legal and bureaucratic requirements do not present such an
impediment to education.

The thesis identified the large role of both the social and institutional networks of the
migrant children in overcoming access barriers. This points to an area of valuable
further research, which could provide a foundation for better policy development and
implementation strategies that recognise the social and institutional dynamics that
influence the decisions and choices made by migrant children and their parents.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC0065 Social aspects of education > LC0189 Educational sociology > LC0213 Educational equalisation. Right to education
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG401 Africa > LG405 South Africa
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG401 Africa > LG461 Zimbabwe
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2011 15:52
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2015 15:07
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/7522

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