Understanding the Problem
We are researchers from George Brown College, the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. These three organizations are located in Toronto, Canada. Using the Community Based Participatory Research framework (CBPR), our project is guided by the key question: How can post-secondary institutions support community groups in advancing the educational goals and social inclusion of refugees?
Education is the key to a secure, durable and sustainable future for refugees and their communities (UNHCR). Refugee education, particularly higher education faces large institutional, resource, and coordination constraints in Canada. This impacts on their access to higher education. Research shows that refugees access higher education at a lower rate in comparison to other newcomer groups in Canada. This can lead to limited opportunities for livelihood, increased poverty, loss of hope, and poor living conditions that have a negative impact on their physical and mental health. When refugees have access to post-secondary education, this improves their ability to enter meaningful employment and helps them to avoid the negative effects of poverty. This leads to greater benefits for refugees as well as Canadian society as a whole.
Our findings provide the basis for innovative programming for refugees to address the unique challenges faced by them. We aim to create successful pathways for participants to post secondary education, empower and enable them to reach their full personal potential, and foster upward social mobility and facilitate social inclusion. It will add to the body of literature on addressing social inclusion through education. Through this collaborative partnership CCVT will have increased capacity to support victims of torture and war in developing a variety of educational skills including life, career development, computer, and academic skills in a manner tailored to their clients’ unique needs for improved access to education and social engagement. CAMH will use the findings to promote social inclusion and equity and to influence local and national policies. George Brown College will use the findings to enhance inclusivity in its teaching and learning curriculum and incorporate approaches in its various programs that prepare students to work with marginalized groups.