Through a discussion of the Refugee Action Support (RAS) program as an example of a school-university-community partnership demonstrating best practice and which was established to provide in school and after school literacy support for refugee high school students in Greater Western Sydney, this paper will indicate the role that museums could play as change agents in reinforcing the work done in formal institutions such as schools. Refugee Action Support (RAS) is a partnership program that assists secondary African refugee school students make the transition from Intensive English Centres to mainstream settings. Implemented by the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, the University of Western Sydney and the NSW Department of Education and Training, the program is based on school-based tutoring centres that use volunteering pre-service teachers as tutors. Each year, students in the program benefit from enrichment activities such as attending Bell Shakespeare performances or participating in Drama Forums and Writing Workshops. RAS is also committed to facilitating opportunities for the young students to engage outside the school in discussions and experiences that involve the broader community to deepen the students’ knowledge. Like RAS, this paper asserts that the role museums could play; in regards to refugee education will make a valuable contribution both to individuals and to the social, cultural and economic development of communities. It is envisaged that museums can give communities a sense of place, identity, value and social cohesion. Museums may also have the opportunity to forge new community networks and this is one way in which museums can attempt to redress the claim that they are hegemonic institutions that reinforce the dominant discourse of society. The contribution that museums can make especially in relation to issues of equity, access and social and cultural capital is certainly gaining ground in current discussions on ways in which the museum as an institution can operate as a ‘collective consciousness’ in society and can hence become inclusive.
|Keywords:||Education, Refugees, Community, Engagement, Schools|
Lecturer, School of Education, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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