Adult learning, gender and mobility: Exploring Somali refugee mothers’ literacy development and empowerment through engagement with their children’s education
In this article, I explore Somali refugee mothers’ acts of becoming literate in order to support their children’s educational success. The literature on parent support and involvement makes fleeting reference to the forces of globalisation; it also pays little attention to refugee parents as being agents of, or subject to, such forces. Research into education and development, as it relates to adult learners, focuses mainly on higher education, economics and labour market issues (Kenway & Kelly, 2000; Blackmore, 2014). The local–global dialectic of school–home relationships has a particular bearing on my research into the refugee parent experience. Accordingly, I reason that parents’ engagement with their children’s education is interwoven with their own histories of educational disruption, displacement and mobility. For this reason, I engage with their cultural and historical contexts as tangible influences on their present-day engagement with learning and education. In this narrative enquiry, I researched the life experiences and beliefs about education of four refugee mothers, analysing their testimonies or ‘narratives of political urgency’ (Bernal, Burciaga & Carmona, 2017) in order to probe the intersectionality of gender, language, ethnicity and power. I investigated their personal empowerment and the community cultural wealth that the women accumulated on their journey to becoming literate.