Refugee Youth Challenges and Unique Needs in Worcester Public Schools that are Satisfied by African Community Education

Title: Refugee Youth Challenges and Unique Needs in Worcester Public Schools that are Satisfied by African Community Education

Author: Heidi L. Biron

Date: 2016

Description: Master’s Paper, Clark University, Department of International Development and Social Change

This paper examines the challenges refugee youth face in U.S. public schools and the benefits of supplementary education programs. The author uses the African Community Education (ACE) organization in Worcester, MA as a case study of a supplementary education program, which she analyzes through participant observation, interviews with ACE’s staff and one focus group discussion with refugee youth from ACE’s programs.  Refugee youth often face several challenges that can become hindrances to their educational success, including: trauma, gaps in education, language barriers and stresses due to acculturation. The U.S. educational system lacks teacher training regarding trauma and hinders personalized attention for students. At ACE, teachers were described as better trained to work with African refugee populations, more patient and more personal in their teaching methods. The structure of the program focused on providing support to improve behavior as well as educational achievement, and the environment was described as more comfortable because of the similarities among students and staff.

Keywords: Refugee Youth, African Refugees, Supplementary Education Programs

Cataloged by: Patrick Barnosky/ B. J. Perkins

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