2.C Settlement and Integration
C.6 How is education treated?
(i) What are the education needs of child refugees?
How Canada Does It
Child refugees should be enrolled in school shortly after arrival. Education is compulsory until the ages of sixteen or eighteen (depending on the Canadian province), or as soon as children achieve their secondary school diplomas. Refugee children may have lost years of school due to the time spent in their refugee situation or had limited access to quality education in their host countries. Moreover, students may have experienced trauma and loss, which can have an impact on their educational outcomes.
All children are required to attend primary and secondary education until they turn sixteen or eighteen, depending on the province, or as soon as they receive their secondary school diploma. Depending on their language capabilities, children may be enrolled in specialized classes to improve their language skills before transitioning to regular classes. Children may have experienced large gaps in their education due to their refugee situation, and may need specialized classes to catch them up with their age group. These gaps may also mean that children may be unfamiliar with conventions of a school and classroom, particularly in Canada. They may receive the support of an education assistant in class.
Settlement agencies and school boards should work closely together to prepare for students’ arrivals and develop education plans that promote their overall settlement and integration. This includes developing resources to support work against bullying and discrimination against refugee students.
Many settlement and other community organizations also offer parenting supports including daycare and after-school and summer recreation that enable refugee parents to focus on their own integration – learning language, seeking employment, etc. Child interaction during recreational activities is one of the best ways to facilitate integration of refugee children. Programming is also offered to families when children are too young to attend school which integrates parenting support in child development with language learning and other settlement services.