Background to the Issues

Transitional Support and Coordination

There is a lack of services to assist immigrant and ethnocultural children and youth in their transition from one division to the next: early childhood to elementary; elementary to junior high; and junior high to high school. Due to a lack of centralized tracking and coordination, immigrant and ethnocultural children and youth do not have access to continuing and coordinated language instruction and socio-cultural support when they move to the next division.

There is a lack of specialized programs in high school that prepare older immigrant and ethnocultural youth for or direct them toward academic upgrading, post-secondary education, vocational training or for the job market. There is also no coordination between the K-12 system and upgrading/post-secondary institutions to ensure continuing support for immigrant and ethnocultural youth in their post high school years.

Socio-cultural Support

Immigrant and ethnocultural children, youth, and families, in their acculturation process, are challenged with complex socio-cultural needs. In addition, those who arrive in Canada as refugees struggle with pre-migration or migration trauma or both. Yet schools have very limited support available to help immigrant and ethnocultural children, youth, and families deal with such psychological, social and cultural challenges. Existing programs tend to focus on general sociocultural support and do not address specialized needs, such as trauma.

Complementary Academic Support

Though school boards generally place immigrant and ethnocultural children and youth, including those with sporadic educational experience, age appropriately, they do not provide systemic, consistent literacy and complementary academic support. Only a few schools have established after school complementary academic support, such as homework clubs. These services are generally provided in the school by community groups which can only offer their services to a small number of schools and community sites.

Family Support

The current focus on school based management encourages schools to be directly accountable to the community. Yet parents of immigrant and ethnocultural children and youth may not be familiar with the Canadian education system or have the necessary knowledge, skills, proficiency in English, leisure time or confidence to become active partners in their children’s learning. There are only limited programs available to help prepare and involve parents of immigrant and ethnocultural children and youth in school activities.

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