Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Schooling Goals and Social Belonging among Central American-Origin Male Youth in Toronto

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Schooling Goals and Social Belonging among Central American-Origin Male Youth in Toronto

Article excerpt


Following a pattern observed elsewhere In North America, male Central American-origin youths in Toronto are, on average, less likely than others to do well In high school and less likely to go on to post-secondary studies. In an effort to better understand how these outcomes emerge, this study examines variation in academic goals between individuals, changes In individual academic goals over time, and social-relations factors associated with such variation and change. Qualitative interviews with sixteen Central American-origin males on their schooling aspirations and social relations in high school point to structural forces that lead minority students to feel marginalized academically and socially in school. More importantly, however, the interviews also point to opportunities for resisting marginalization and for belonging more fully in school. Youths who broaden their social relations and friendships to include those outside their own ethno-social background generally also want to do better academically, and vice versa. These findings on schooling process contribute to the understanding of theoretical models and research priorities for addressing the schooling experiences and outcomes for "at risk" minority youth.


Selon une tendance observee quelque part en Amerique du Nord, les jeunes hommes originaires de l'Amerique centrale a Toronto ont, en moyenne, moins de chances de reussir que d'autres dans l'education secondaire et ont aussi moins de chances de poursuivre des etudes postsecondaires. Dans le but de mieux comprendre comment les resultats de ce constat, cet article examine la variation dans les objectifs academiques chez les individus, les changements dans ces objectifs academiques individuels au fil du temps et les facteurs de relations sociales lies a une telle variation et un tel changement. Des entretiens qualitatifs avec seize jeunes provenant de l'Amerique centrale ont porte sur leurs aspirations scolaires et sur leurs relations sociales a l'ecole, cadre des forces structurales qui amenent les etudiants minoritaires a se sentir marginalises academiquement. Plus important, cependant, ces entretiens indiquent aussi des opportunites pour resister a la marginalisation et appartenir pleinement a l'ecole. Les jeunes qui elargissent leurs relations sociales et leurs amities pour inclure des individus en dehors de leur origine ethno-sociale sont generalement portes a vouloir ameliorer leur performance scolaire et vice-versa. Ces resultats sur le processus de scolarisation contribuent a la comprehension des modeles theoriques et des priorites de recherche dans le contexte de l'etude des experiences et des resultats scolaires d'un groupe de jeunes << a risque >>.


This paper reports findings from a study of high school completion goals and friendship networks among Central American-origin male youths in Toronto. The data draw attention to wide variation among the youths in their schooling aspirations and sense of social belonging in school. While nearly all of the youths at times experience marginalization and discouragement at school, many also seek to improve their sense of belonging academically and socially. They do this by focusing on academic subjects of greater interest to them and striving for passing or better grades, while at the same time expanding their social relations to include members of other ethno-social groups. These complementary goals, one academic and the other social, reinforce one another.


The Central American origin population of Canada was founded mainly by refugee-class immigrants, mostly from El Salvador and Guatemala, who fled bloody civil wars taking place in the region during the 1980s and 1990s (Carranza 2007; Poteet 2012). Between 1980 and 2000, it is estimated that some 90,000 Central Americans--or four to five thousand a year--came to Canada, with most settling in major metropolitan areas, particularly Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver (Garcia 2006). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.