Refugee students adapt to Regina schools amidst resource shortage

Regina Public Schools says it does not have the resources to meet the needs of the 49 new refugee students in the school division.

Regina school division says more EAL teachers needed to handle needs of 49 new refugee students

Students Mohamed and Abdel Baree are adapting to life at Regina schools after arriving from Syria about a week ago. (Dean Gutheil/CBC)

As public schools around Regina open their doors to new refugee students, the school division says it's unable to meet all of their needs. 

The Regina public school system has 49 new Syrian elementary or high school students. Many of the students are paired up with English as Additional Language teachers to make the transition easier. 

From the school division perspective we do not have the resources to be able to meet the needs of all of these children.- Greg  Enion , Regina Public Schools

The trouble is, the school board says there aren't enough EAL teachers, and the the board is not receiving any more money from the province or Ottawa. 

"From the school division perspective we do not have the resources to be able to meet the needs of all of these children," said Greg Enion, director of education with Regina Public Schools. 

Many of the new students don't speak any English, so EAL teachers are critical. The school board said, for now, it will focus on students with the highest needs. 

Students adjusting to life in Saskatchewan  

At Regina's Marion McVeety School, there are five new students from Syria in the Grade 3 and 4 class. Two of them, Mohamed and Abdel Baree, arrived in Canada only a week ago. 

Through classmate Salma Elshakankiri, who was acting as translator, the boys said they feel safe here. 

"He feels like he's going to like, live here happy," Salma translated. 

Salma Elshakankiri, who arrived in Canada two years ago from Egypt, helps translate for a boy who just arrived a week ago from Syria. (Dean Gutheil/CBC)

Salma arrived from Egypt two years ago and is still adjusting to life in Saskatchewan. 

"It's good, but the weather is cold," she said. 

Linda Mitchell works as a coordinator for the EAL program. She said the kids are being flexible. 

"The students know what they want and through gestures and communicating and pictures and different things, the communication has been very good with the kids," Mitchell said.  


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Salma Elshakankiri was a refugee who arrived in Canada a year ago. This story has been corrected to reflect that Elshakankiri is not a refugee and arrived two years ago.
    Feb 10, 2016 9:06 AM CT