Unit plan for ages 12-14 in Civic Education: Refugee teenagers

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Colombian youths taking part in a UNHCR project for displaced youth in Pasto.   © UNHCR/A.M.Rodriguez

UNIT OBJECTIVES

Knowledge

  • To understand the abnormal and trying conditions in which refugee children and teenagers live and endure
  • To see that refugee adolescents need help and protection
  • To understand that combatants in current wars and conflicts are not just adult, male soldiers, but increasingly include children

Skills

  • To apply imaginative thinking to the situations of refugee children and teenagers

Values

Adults go to war, but they don't realize what damage they are doing to children.

A Nicaraguan child

  • To encourage the students to envisage the situations which refugee teenagers live through, and the conditions in which they now live.
  • To stimulate empathy for teenagers who are trying to cope and adjust their recent memories of their refugee experiences.


LESSONS 1 and 2: This is for real

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES

Through their stories, refugee teenagers communicate their often wistful memories of their lives with their families in their home countries, the traumatic upheavals that caused them to flee, reflections on their present experience as refugees, their hopes and dreams for the future, and their determination to survive and to improve their current lot.

This module is based on a collection of true stories related by refugee teenagers in interviews with UNHCR field officers. Students are asked to read the stories and to share their responses to discussion questions.

RESOURCES

Poster for fundraising campaign (for humanitarian crisis.) A Sudanese refugee seeks shelter from a sandstorm near the Chadian border town of Tine. (February 7, 2004)   © UNHCR/H.Caux

Refugee teenagers tell their stories from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, Section 4: Refugee Youth Stories

Manyua's story [PDF] from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, pp. 64-65

Joseph's story [PDF] from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, pp. 62-63

Moses' and Joshua's story [PDF] from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, pp. 66-67

LESSON 3: Separation

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES

The turmoil of conflict and flight often results in the separation of families. When separated from their primary caregivers, unaccompanied or separated refugee children and teenagers face a greater risk of detention, sexual exploitation and abuse, military recruitment, child labour and denial of access to education and basic assistance.

Referring to the stories from the previous lessons, students discuss the difficulties and dangers that refugee teenagers have to face when separated from their primary caregivers.

RESOURCES

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie inside convoy truck with Congolese refugees just arriving in Tanzania. In recent years the country has been hosting nearly one million victims of persecution and war. (March 2003)  © UNHCR/N.Behring-Chisholm

Information sheet: Separation [PDF] from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, pp. 16-17

Further reading: Separated Children in Europe Programme (SCEP) [PDF] from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, pp. 32-33

LESSON 4: Being Mum or Dad when they are gone

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES

Refugee teenagers often take on the responsibilities as head of household due to incapacitation or death of one or both parents.

Students read about the experiences of Manyua and Joseph.

RESOURCES

A woman prepares porridge in a makeshift camp in a schoolyard in Kas town, South Darfur.  © UNHCR/K.McKinsey

Manyua's story [PDF] from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, pp. 64-65

Joseph's story [PDF] from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, pp. 62-63

LESSON 5: Military recruitment

CONTENT TEACHING METHODS/LEARNING STRATEGIES

Combatants in armed conflicts increasingly include child soldiers.

Forced recruitment - why are children recruited?

Social influences upon children.

The experiences of child soldiers.

The consequences suffered by child soldiers because of their involvement in armed conflict.

"Who fights in a war?" Students are lead through a brainstorming session on their preconceived ideas of the identities of the participants in war.

They read about the experiences of two Liberian teenagers who were kidnapped and made to fight as expendable child soldiers.

RESOURCES

The logo on the T-shirts says 'All children all rights everywhere'. The wearers are former child soldiers watching a volley game in a transit camp for demobilised child soldiers near Rumbek in southern Sudan.  © Courtesy of UNICEF/Roger LeMoyne

Information Sheet: Military recruitment [PDF] from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, pp. 24-25

Moses' and Joshua's story [PDF] from World Refugee Day 2003 Refugee Youth: Building the Future: Information Kit, pp. 66-67

Further readings for the teacher

Kidnapping the kids...
(from Refugees magazine, issue 111, pp. 6-7)

Turning refugees into gunmen [PDF, 2pp., 118Kb]
(from Refugees magazine, issue 131, pp. 18-19)

Recruiting child soldiers: The link between displacement and recruitment [PDF, 1p., 85Kb]
(from Refugees magazine, issue 122, p. 19)