The first four Somali Bantu, a refugee group that starting arriving in Lewiston, Maine, in 2005 have graduated from high school in that community, according to a story in the Sun Journal. In Somalia, the Bantus lived in farming villages that tended not to have schools. Then they fled Somalia for Kenya and spent years in refugee camps.
The four who graduated had little or no formal schooling when they arrived in the United States in 2005. The article says that they spent a year in classes for English-language learners before moving to mainstream classes.
The article doesn’t say how Somali Bantu are faring in Lewiston, Maine, who haven’t yet met requirements for graduation. My colleague Scott Cech interviewed Susan B. Martin, the director of programs for ELLs, in the Lewiston school district for Quality Counts 2009 this year. She talked with him about the challenges of educating many African refugee students who have received little or no schooling, and the difficulties of including them in large-scale state testing. The district has been unable to meet adequate yearly progress goals for ELLs under the No Child Left Behind Act.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.