“I Belong to Nowhere”: Syrian Refugee Children’s Perspectives on School Integration

Yan Guo, Srabani Maitra, Shibao Guo

Abstract


Since 2011, the armed conflict that began in the Syrian Arab Republic has displaced an estimated 12 million Syrians, forcing them to seek refuge in various countries around the world. Over half of those uprooted are children. Education is key to integration of refugee children and is considered critical in bringing back a sense of normalcy, routine as well as emotional and social well-being in the lives of refugee children. In Canada, integration of Syrian refugee children in the public school system has, therefore, been identified as one of the vital aspects of their settlement needs. This article examines the challenges experienced by newly arrived Syrian refugee children as they struggle to integrate to the Canadian school system. We have conducted five focus groups with twelve Syrian refugee parents and eighteen Syrian refugee children between the age group of 10-14. Our research shows that Syrian refugee children not only find it difficult to make friends with local students but are also subjected to constant bullying and racism that affect their sense of belonging and connection. Making the views of these students explicit, we hope to provide a starting point for not only understanding their experiences in more detail, but also for developing educational strategies, resources and policies that might best meet the needs of these students and future refugee children and youth.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20355/jcie29362