Module 10: Education for Resettled Refugees

Since they come from war-affected regions and schooling environments that were often disrupted, resettled refugees have specific needs and barriers that they must overcome in regards to education. A study among African refugee students in Manitoba found that the “academic, economic, and psychosocial challenges facing African refugee students adversely affected their ability to integrate and cope well in school, thereby significantly reducing their socioeconomic opportunities.”(1) Many refugees have had limited secondary education in refugee camps, which makes staying in school increasingly difficult. A study that interviewed refugees living in Phoenix, Arizona, found that the language barrier was the single greatest impediment to successful integration in the community and the ability to be successful in school.(2) Moreover, additional barriers exist for refugee populations that impede them from achieving their potential in school. For example, they may face academic challenges because of the lack of academic support at home, separation from their family, fear of authority figures, and inappropriate grade placement. They also face economic challenges. More than half of the 40 students who participated in the study in Manitoba reported holding full-time jobs. As one student explained, “I am always tired. Things are harder in Canada than we thought. I get home every night past midnight… I have no time or energy to study or do my homework.”(3) Because refugee children face numerous barriers and challenges in the school environment, schools must provide educational support targeted to specific refugee populations.

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(1) Kanu, Y. “Educational Needs and Barriers for African Refugee Students in Manitoba.” Canadian Journal of Education. 31.4 (2008); 915-940. Accessed on 20 August 2010.

(2) “Life in the Promised Land: Resettled Refugee Youth Struggle in the U.S.” Women’s Refugee Commission. Accessed on 23 August 2010.

(3) Kanu, Y. “Educational Needs and Barriers for African Refugee Students in Manitoba.”