Literacy and the Congolese refugee families : using homegrown literacy practices and experiences to embrace literateness in the United States

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Joy Catherine Birabwa (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Linda Hestenes

Abstract: In developed countries including the United States, prominence is accorded to print literacy. Children are, at a very early age introduced to reading in-utero and identify with reading books as they grow unlike children in other parts of the world, where less prominence is accorded to the written word. In fiscal year 2020, the United States accepted and resettled 35% refugees from Africa (Migration Policy Institute, 2021). With the ever changing global political, economic, and cultural dynamics, both at macro and micro level, the United States, is one of the countries providing refugee to displaced people from around the world. Upon resettlement, one of the expectations is refugee families will adapt to the United States systems including the literary practices, which are more focused around reading and writing. Refugees’ knowledge, experiences and practices are unique to each family. Not all refugees will identify with the U.S. understanding of literacy. This study looked at how refugees from Congo, in Africa were adapting to literacy practices in the United States, especially with the onset of the pandemic that led to a global lockdown and caused disruption in socio-economic and individual spheres. As several scholars have suggested, literacy is broad so in this study, I sought to understand a) What do Congolese refugee families believe about literacy, b) What did the Congolese refugee families do to support their children’s literacy practices prior to coming to the United States? and c) What has been the Congolese experience with literacy in the past year?

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
African refugees, Congolese, Families, Learning, Literacy, Refugees
Congolese (Democratic Republic) $z United States
Refugee families $z United States
Reading $x Parent participation $z United States
Literacy $z United States

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