Exploring the Factors That African Refugee-Background Students Identify as Being Helpful to Their Academic Success
Laryea, Edwin W. D.
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African refugee-background (ARB) students achieve high standards of success, yet their lived experiences are frequently absent from educational literature in Canada. Current and past research has focused on their academic deficits, their vulnerabilities, and their maladjusted behaviour, neglecting the positive attributes they bring to their host countries. Using specific data collected from semi-structured interviews with eight male and female ARB high school graduates between the ages of 18-25, this qualitative study employed a critical race paradigm to explore factors that ARB high school graduates identified as being helpful in their academic success. The study sought to challenge the deficit views on ARB students’ education by highlighting the perspectives of academically successful ARB students in a secondary school setting. The findings from the ARB students’ narratives highlighted three major themes: (a) success extends beyond the classroom and it cannot be normalized, (b) success is multifaceted and attainable by all, and (c) intrinsic motivation and resilience is a coping strategy for academic success. Additionally, the findings indicated that ARB students used a variety of coping strategies to overcome the negative and stressful environments in their high schools. Disseminating their narratives of success provides real-life examples for other refugee-background students to emulate, in pursuit of their own academic success, amidst the educational and societal barriers that they encounter. These findings add to the limited amount of research on ARB students’ academic success and may provide alternative strategies on refugee education for