School-Aged Syrian Refugees Resettling in Canada: Mitigating the Effect of Pre-migration Trauma and Post-migration Discrimination on Academic Achievement and Psychological Well-Being

  • John Walker
  • Daniyal ZuberiEmail author


In addition to psychological trauma and discrimination, discourse on refugees in Canada contributes to the risk of poor psychological well-being and academic achievement for school-aged Syrian refugees. Canadian public schools are a readily available and effective resource to mitigate risk for school-aged Syrian refugees. Pre-migration trauma and post-migration discrimination have a synergistic impact on refugee children and youths’ functioning. Experiencing forced migration and armed conflict increase the likelihood of psychological trauma symptoms that negatively impact on cognitive, behavioral, and emotional functioning. Psychological symptoms inevitably impact on academic ability and achievement. Refugees also face a greater likelihood of discrimination, while being subjected to a nationwide discourse that portrays refugees negatively. Furthermore, discrimination is shown to negatively affect refugee mental health, compounding on existing psychological trauma. Although Canadian schools are well-positioned to support Syrian children and youth, there are gaps in the literature on supporting contemporary refugees in Canadian public schools who exhibit psychological trauma symptoms, as well as the subsequent implications of discrimination. Based on the analysis of current data and research, this paper proposes five recommendations for Canadian public schools to mitigate risk and promote psychological well-being and academic achievement for school-aged Syrian refugees.


Canada Syrian refugees Discrimination Trauma Education Mental health 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social WorkUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Factor Inwentash-Faculty of Social Work and Munk School of Global Affairs and Public PolicyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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