Ongoing Project:

Refugee Youth and Interrupted Schooling: Economic and Social Implications

Researchers: Susan Brigham1, Howard Ramos2, Nabiha Atallah3, and Olga Lyubenko3
Affiliation: Mount Saint Vincent University1, Western  University2, and Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)3
Research Partner: ISANS
Keywords: refugee students, Nova Scotia, interrupted schooling, language skills, educational attainment


Objective: This study aims to further our understanding of the ways in which a complexity of challenge -including lack of proficiency in English, social isolation, discrimination, structural economic problems, and mental health challenges- impact refugee youth who are experiencing or have experienced interrupted schooling.

Justification: ISANS has observed that many of the refugee youth they serve face significant challenges and have experienced interrupted schooling, defined as not being able to attend school for a period that may var from a few months to years, due to war, civil unrest, migration, or financial pressures.

Practical goal: This study will develop evidence-based promising practices for educational institutions and settlement associations to better assist youth in attaining uninterrupted formal education, inform policy, and contribute to literature about refugee youth and education.

Primary audience: Educators, service providers, policy makers, refugee youth and their families


This study employs qualitative community-engaged research methodology. Mainly utilizing one-to-one interviews with 20-30 refugee youth, aged 16 to 24 years old, who migrated to Canada as government assisted refugees and currently reside in Nova Scotia.

This study asks the following questions:

  1. What are refugee youths’ experiences with interrupted schooling?

  2. What are their educational aspirations for advancing in their post-secondary trajectory?

  3. What is required to support youth to advance their formal education?

  4. What are the political, social and economic implications for refugee youth and the broader society when the refugee youth experience interrupted schooling?

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