Social emotional learning (SEL) has become a popular trend in the field of Education in Emergencies (EiE). Many SEL programs targeting refugee learners aim to help individuals develop skills that are necessary for learning and development, as well as mitigate the adverse impacts of crisis and displacement. While nearly half a billion USD has been invested in SEL initiatives for refugee and crisis contexts world-wide, little evidence exists about the impacts of SEL interventions with refugee communities. As 20% of all refugees globally reside in East Africa, and it is estimated that over 152 million African children live in active conflict zones, this study set out to qualitatively examine understandings, implementation, and implications of SEL interventions across actors engaging refugee communities in the region. The results expose tensions, challenges, and complex dynamics related to culture, power, and the complicated reality of implementing refugee education initiatives in East Africa. While further research into this area of inquiry is needed and proposed, these study findings provide a stronger understanding of the refugee education landscape in East Africa and its current insufficiencies through the example of SEL, and serve to inform other topical EiE interventions and the broader uptake of SEL by education systems globally.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Kelsey Dalrymple