Exploring the Impacts of Race, Culture, and Language on African Refugee Students in Ontario Secondary Schools


Identity threat, or perceived identity threat, in school settings has been linked to decreased academic engagement and performance among minority group members. In particular, among secondary school students, discrimination based on culture, race, and/or language can contribute to drop out rates and a lack of meaningful academic engagement. This paper is part of a larger study which explored the challenges and barriers faced by young adult African refugee students in Ontario high schools. It will focus specifically on the explorations and discussions of race, culture, and language, as found as part of that larger study, looking at how discrimination affected the participants’ academic engagement, achievement, and integration into their new schools. Using in-depth interviews, the findings of the study are expressed in the participants’ own voices. Participants recounted that instances of both implicit and explicit discrimination and difficulty fitting in with peers created a lack of academic achievement and academic engagement, although these were barriers that all participants were able to overcome with time. They discuss the important roles of school administration and teachers in working to decrease discrimination and build more inclusive, culturally relevant curricula, classrooms, and schools.

Author Information
Jessica Msofe, Lakehead University, Canada

Paper Information
Conference: IICEHawaii2017
Stream: Student Learning, Learner Experiences and Learner Diversity

This paper is part of the IICEHawaii2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon