In recent years, the Newcomer Education Coalition (NEC), in cooperation with Immigration Partnership Winnipeg (IPW), has been engaged with the public school system in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to learn about the challenges facing refugee and newcomer youth within the education system and develop responses to better incorporate and serve refugee and newcomer youth. Out of this engagement, the NEC has noticed a number of issues that consistently affect refugee youths’ ability to remain in school: the inadequacy of e-credits for educational advancement; structural economic problems (for example, refugee families’ need to pay back transportation loans) creating economic stresses detrimental to youth advancement in education; and the persistence of mental health issues as a result of trauma.
Our proposed research emerges out of NEC’s work with the intention of developing an educator and community-informed ‘best practices’ document. Our proposed community-engaged project intends to do precisely this. NEC possesses, and is further developing, the knowledge and expertise for such a document, they lack the capacity to produce research-informed documents on the basis of their knowledge, expertise, and experience. Furthermore, this research subject is well represented within ESPO priorities for CYRRC research.
The objectives are driven by the NEC members’ expressed need for a ‘best practices document’ out of previous consultations/ongoing activities:
– to compile existing information developed by NEC on the matter of interrupted schooling for refugee youth
– to articulate existing school and school division practices and develop out of them a blueprint for best practices in combating interrupted schooling for refugee youth
– to use research to educate teachers and principals on how to keep students attached to classrooms
– to inform future research projects that center on the longitudinal research of refugee youth within Winnipeg’s school system.
In addition to undertaking a literature review on the causes and effects of interrupted schooling for refugee youth, we will deploy a community-engaged methodology via the NEC. Educators are key members of this coalition and are privy to the successes and the relevant challenges encountered by educators, the education system, and refugee youth.
1. Compile and synthesize existing data:
a) Information developed and compiled by the NEC, including information from ‘older newcomer youth interrupted school forum’ forums, workshops, public outreach, and training
b) Statistics from the province of Manitoba on the scope and scale of interrupted schooling among refugee youth
c) Other relevant information from IPW
2. Interviewing and focus groups:
a) Two series of focus groups with personnel in the education system so as to learn of the ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ dynamics associated with implementing best practices to combat interrupted schooling amongst refugee youth:
i) ‘Top-down’: with superintendents and assistant superintendents who have implemented strategies for combating interrupted schooling at the school division level
ii) ‘Bottom-up’ with principals, resource teachers, EAL teachers and EAL consultants
b) Recruitment of a small number of refugee youth and/or families to participate in interviews. The small number of interviews accords with principles of small-n qualitative research: the intimate details of a given case augment knowledge of statistically significant trends
1) What existing practices and models exist within Winnipeg’s schools to combat interrupted schooling for refugee youth?
2) How can schools and educators be better supported to connect older refugee youth to classrooms so as to prevent interrupted schooling?
3) How can re-settled refugee families be better supported to combat interrupted schooling for refugee youth?