Refugee Students’ Academic Motivation in Displacement: The Case of Kakuma Refugee Camp

Building on the existing body of literature on academic motivation, this research examines various factors associated with the academic motivation of students living in refugee camps in Kenya. I employ self-determination theory and a sense of belonging at school construct to explore the academic motivation of these students who, despite the overwhelming challenges of their life in exile and an unpredictable future, remain eager to learn. I use ordinary least squares regression modeling to examine the relationship between students’ motivation and their individual and social predictor variables. Drawn from a survey of 664 primary school students across nine schools in Kakuma refugee camp, the findings suggest that students’ sense of  belonging at school is the strongest predictor of academic motivation, even after adjusting for other demographic and family-related variables. While these factors do not represent all possible predictors of motivation among students in refugee camps, the study does suggest that fostering a sense of belonging at school in a context of displacement could help educators create learning environments that promote and sustain refugee students’ academic motivation.


The author discuss their work in the Behind the Pages podcast episode embedded below:

Resource Info

Resource Type

Journal Article


Published by

Journal on Education in Emergencies (JEiE)

Authored by

Jihae Cha


Adolescents and Youth

Geographic Focus