Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Enhancing the development of refugee-background youth in Aotearoa New Zealand through non-formal education

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posted on 2022-11-08, 06:50 authored by King, Leonie

Globally, non-formal education (NFE) plays an important role in youth development. However, while universal approaches to youth development are well researched, there is little research on what influences positive youth development (PYD) for refugee-background youth and how NFE can be adapted to address the inequities experienced by refugee-background youth. In Aotearoa New Zealand, refugee-background youth currently lack equitable access to NFE which supports youth development on an individual level, and which can also build wider societal understanding and empathy across boundaries of class, race, migration status and religion.

To address this gap, this project worked within a transformative epistemology infused with Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to ask:1. What key factors influence positive youth development for refugee-background youth?

2. What key factors lead to positive youth development for refugee-background youth through non-formal education?

3. How might non-formal education be adapted to enable greater positive youth development outcomes for refugee-background youth?

Using a qualitative methodology, I carried out semi-structured interviews with five refugee-background youth or former refugee-background youth and 20 NFE providers, of whom three were former refugees. Through thematic analysis of their reflections, the key factors influencing PYD for refugee-background youth were identified to be a sense of belonging, everyday citizenship, and equitable access to opportunities to participate. NFE also provided refugee-background youth with valuable opportunities to form connections with people, and with the land, culture and history of Aotearoa, to build confidence and to have fun. From this analysis, the research contributes to development practice by developing a PYD model for refugee-background youth, guidelines for NFE providers, and areas for further research.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License


Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Kindon, Sara