The Current

Teachers struggle to prepare for needs of Syrian refugee children

Thousands of children are set to enter public schools across this country as refugees of war. And it isn’t clear that Canadian teachers or their school systems are ready for them. We hear from an expert on the integration of refugee children on how teachers feel ill-prepared for the new arrivals.
Winnipeg teacher Maranda Obradovic (second from right) from Hugh John Macdonald school in Winnipeg celebrating with kids from the literacy and academic learning centre. Researcher Jan Stewart says Hugh John Macdonald is an excellent example of a school that is doing a good job integrating refugees. (Suzanne Dufresne/CBC)

The thousands of Syrian refugee children on their way to Canada would all be lucky to end up with a school principal like Vin Huen. Recently, he has welcomed a class for newcomers at Hugh John MacDonald School in Winnipeg — a school with a lot of experience in integrating new students from around the world.

Of course, school time will be critical for preparing these kids for a new life in Canada.

But it won't be easy... for the students or the teachers. 

It's something Jan Stewart first realized when she was a high school counsellor, and has been studying for more than a decade since. She is a Professor of Education at the University of Winnipeg, and the author of the book, "Supporting Refugee Children: Strategies for Educators." 

They're overwhelmed,I mean, not everybody is, but yes, certainly that's what I'm hearing... and I'll tell you who's telling me this - the people who are closest with students.- Jan Stewart, education professor at University of Winnpeg

We'd love to hear your stories about supporting refugee children if you're an educator... or maybe you have had the experience of going to school in Canada as a refugee child.

Send us an email. We're also on Facebook, and on Twitter @TheCurrentCBC.

​This segment was produced by CBC Winnipeg Network Producer Suzanne Dufresne.