Young adult refugees (YAR) from Syria arrive in Québec with the aim of pursuing their studies and efficiently integrating their host society.

For these young people over the age of 16, adult education is the only option, thus highlighting the importance of research to better understand their life experiences and educational paths in Québec’ adult education system.

To date, we have found that current adult education services (AES) alone do not address the fundamental obstacles faced by YAR who encounter challenges as they learn and navigate the system, which was designed for independent adults from French- and English-speaking communities who work individually, at their own pace, and may sometimes require help.

Generally speaking, refugee students are initially enthusiastic about the format, and that should help them cover the academic content fairly quickly. However, like other newcomers, YAR have not acquired the independent learning skills needed to tackle the material and therefore become frustrated and challenged by an ongoing disruption as they make their way through the system. They also experience a number of constraints triggered by individual and cultural pressures related to their age and learning delays carried over from their previous environments. A number of issues come into play, and the solutions are linked from the cultural, institutional and political perspectives.

AES should account for the major intercultural differences stemming from the customs and backgrounds of adult student refugees who a) should be taught by educators who rely on new practices and strategies to integrate the methods of an individualized and self-managed learning approach and b) should be made aware of the cultural elements that prevail in Québec society. Even so, it is of critical importance to fund complementary professional education service and teacher training to address the academic challenges and prevent the psychological constraints and even trauma experienced by learners from different cultures and origins. The Ministère de l’Éducation must redefine the priorities of AES and ensure all stakeholders possess the knowledge and aptitudes required to work with these clienteles.

We strongly recommend that the Ministère de l’Éducation make AES a priority so they reflect the place and role new generations of YAR will be called upon to play in Québec society—a vision that rests on funding, reflection and increased awareness.

Main researcher
Ratna Ghosh, McGill University


Research report


Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: December 2021