2.C Settlement and Integration
C.6 How is education treated?
(ix) What barriers to education do resettled refugees face and how can curriculums and approaches to education be tailored to meet their needs?
How Canada Does It
Key barriers to learning for resettled refugees include lack of academic support, separation from family, cultural dissonance, limited language proficiency, academic gaps due to disrupted schooling, discrimination, fear and distrust of authority figures, and grade placement based on language assessment rather than academic ability.
To address these barriers, curriculums can include promoting better understanding of refugee situations and a culture of acceptance in schools. School administrators and staff should pay special attention to grade placement of refugee students relative to their age. They should also provide support to refugee students and monitor the attitudes and behaviors of other students to ensure that new students experience a welcoming environment and are not subject to bullying or harassment.
Research also suggests that schools can support refugee students by making better links to community supports and by taking additional steps to engage parents in culturally sensitive ways. Many schools across Canada partner with the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) programs that supports school staff, students and parents in empowering refugee students to succeed. SWIS programs also support successful integration outcomes by connecting families with relevant community supports outside of the classroom.
Approaches to education for refugees vary by jurisdiction. A barrier that refugees face to optimal education outcomes is the extent to which teachers and schools have the skills resources to support them. Some localized strategies exist (see 2.C.6(iii)). For example, in Quebec, refugee children attend specialized classes to improve language skills before attending regular school. See 2.C.6(viii) for more information about supports teachers can access to help them address the needs of refugee children in the classroom.
Many schools across Canada partner with the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program. SWIS supports students, school staff, and parents in learning about and adjusting to the school environment, and empowering students to succeed. For more information about the SWIS program, see 2.C.6(viii)).