March 23, 2021Print | PDF
By Edward Shizha, Professor, Youth and Children’s Studies
My research focuses on the settlement experiences of African immigrants in Canada. My colleagues and I recently published an article in the journal Canadian Ethnic Studies called “African immigrant students and access to post-secondary education: School guidance counsellors as gatekeepers.” It presents findings from a two-year study between 2015 and 2017 on enhancing access to post-secondary education for male African youth in Southern Ontario. I was the principal investigator and collaborated with my Laurier colleagues Stacey Wilson-Forsberg, Oliver Masakure, Magnus Mfoafo-M’Carthy and Ginette Lafrenière as co-investigators.
We hired an African graduate student from Wilfrid Laurier University’s Social Justice and Community Engagement program, Lydia Awuah-Mensah, to interview and facilitate focus groups with 67 young men who emigrated from Africa to Southern Ontario, and then to analyze the data with our research team.
The objective of the study was to examine factors that contributed to the young men’s success or failure to access post-secondary education. The interviews revealed that:
Despite these unfavourable school factors, some students who had been pushed out of the school system after Grade 12 went on to acquire post-secondary education as adults. There were also students who were defined by teachers and counsellors as “incapable” or “not intelligent enough” to handle post-secondary education who went on to complete high school and enrolled in university education. Despite the teachers’ and counsellors’ attitudes, the students showed resiliency and resistance to the negative labels.
Based on our findings, which should influence school authorities, teachers, school career counselors, students and policymakers, we recommend that:
This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Laurier received further funding from SSHRC to expand our focus from Southern Ontario to Canada. The national study, which covers six provinces, is being led by Stacey Wilson-Forsberg.
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