Academic journal article International Journal of Education

An Integrated Framework for Immigrant Children and Youth's School Integration: A Focus on African Francophone Students in British Columbia - Canada

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

An Integrated Framework for Immigrant Children and Youth's School Integration: A Focus on African Francophone Students in British Columbia - Canada

Article excerpt

Abstract

An abundant literature has been produced on immigrant children and youth education. However, few studies incorporate students' view in providing a comprehensive definition of immigrant children and youth's school integration. The aim of this paper is to provide an operational integrated guide, which may be useful for working with immigrant children and youth students, as it takes into consideration the social, cultural, psychological and academic dimensions of their school integration. This integrated guiding framework draws from a five-year experience of community-university partnership. The methodology consists of a review of the literature on the school integration of immigrant children and youth, comprehensive interviews with students, parents and community partners (previous publications by authors), and community's involvement through a consultation process to determine needs and priorities. The combined findings gathered from these sources are formulated into practical recommendations to assist educators in their support of immigrant children and youth' school integration process.

Keywords: immigrant children and youth; Francophone African immigrants; school integration

1. Introduction

This integrated framework aims to provide guiding principles to those involved in promoting a better school integration for refugee and immigrant children and youth. It focuses on immigrant children and youth social, cultural, psychosocial and academic dimensions as critical factors for their successful school integration. Statistic Canada (2006) reported that most newcomers are now arriving from Asia and the Middle East (58.3%), Europe (16.1%), the Caribbean, Central and South America (10.8%), and Africa (10.6%). Interestingly, the number of immigrant children and youth has increased from 24% in 1971 to 34% in 2006. The National Household Survey (Statistics Canada, 2011) also indicates an increase in the number of immigrants from Africa between 2006 and 2011: they represented 12.5% of the newcomers who arrived in Canada during that period, compared to the 10.3% who arrived during the previous five-year period.

The number of African immigrants in Canada continues to grow as the continent continues to be affected by political turmoil and wars. Indeed, at the end of 2010, Central Africa and the Great Lakes Region had 945,200 refugees, the East and Horn of Africa had 779,200 and the Southern Africa had 143,000, totaling 2,016,800 refugees from the Sub-Saharan Africa region (UNHCR, 2010). As a result, there have been a growing number of Sub-Saharan African Francophone immigrants arriving in British Columbia (BC), Canada. According to the Immigrant Services Society of BC (2010), British Columbia received 162 newcomers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 51 from Togo, 44 from Burundi, 33 from Rwanda and 31 from the Republic of Congo between January 2005 and December 2009 (inclusive).

While this number may look relatively small, African sub-Saharan youth present specific characteristics and experiences, while they belong to communities still poorly known in Canada (Mondain, & Lardoux, 2013). In British Columbia (BC), their situation is particularly complex: as an African Francophone Minority with diverse backgrounds, languages, cultures and previous school experiences, they have to overcome the challenge of having to transition into a Euro-North American Francophone Minority within a dominant English speaking society. Although they can choose to be schooled in English, our previous studies have shown that most African Francophone immigrant children and youth newly arrived in BC will attend Francophone schools designated for the Francophone community in minority situation, a right given by the 1982 Canadian Charter of Bills and Rights (Moore, Sabatier, Jacquet, & Masinda, 2008; Jacquet, Moore, Masinda, & Barankenguje, 2013).

In this paper, we use the term "Francophone" to describe individuals and groups whose cultural backgrounds are associated with the French language, for primarily historical reasons: as a legacy of the French and Belgian colonial empires for the newly arrived African minority groups in Canada; as a legacy of the French colonization of the American continent during the 17th and 18th centuries for the Canadian Francophones (and by extension, for the schools who provide for their instruction). …

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