Refugees in Towns Project with Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti
Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti originally from Zimbabwe moved to Cape Town towards the end of 2008. He is currently a researcher and project manager at the CCA and is soon to start a PhD in art history. He is a part of a team of researchers for the Refugees In Towns Project at the Feinstein International Centre at Tufts University. His current project focuses on the integration of first-generation migrants in the High Schools of Cape Town. These are 15-20-year-old pupils at Rhodes, Maitland, Bloubergrant and Vista High schools. Most of these pupils did their primary education in their home countries (Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Rwanda, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and others). In Cape Town, they are enrolling in these institutions, which are either Afrikaans- or English-medium schools. They are also expected to learn in Xhosa. For some of the pupils, this is their first opportunity to be in a multiracial and multicultural school and environment. Language as a tool of communication is a problem for those from French-speaking nations like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville, and the former Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique. Moreover, they face difficulties obtaining the relevant permits and paperwork to allow them to study. Their local schoolmates have certain perceptions of them, mostly informed by the broader society’s perception on African immigrants. In this research, he is mainly interested in how much the schools are helping these students to integrate. It is important for the school administration to create a conducive environment where these pupils feel welcome. He is also looking at the role played by non-governmental organizations helping in this process. He is also examining efforts of the City of Cape Town through the Western Cape Departments of Education, and the role of Home Affairs to try and help these migrants integrate.
“It is great to be part of such a great team of researchers from different parts of the world.”