Syrian Refugee Youth Seeking Hope: Educational Aspirations and Integration of Refugee Youth in Belgium

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:10
Oral Presentation
Tuba BIRCAN, University of Leuven, Belgium
Mohammad SALMAN, Free University of Brussels, Belgium
The aftermath of Syrian civil war has expanded to the entire world. Since the WWII, one of the largest forced migrations has been experienced as a mass influx of Syrians. The durability of the crisis in Syria intensifies the urgency for refugee support. Recent policy agendas include education on the top of their lists. Tertiary education, which will enable refugee youth to have better careers and become more integrated within the community, is also a facilitator for economic growth as much as being an investment in the human capital of refugees. Therefore, a better understanding of the refugees' perspective might be a convenient tool for developing better integration strategies. A large body of empirical research and policy documents documented the traumatic experiences of refugee youth and their families before or during the migration. However, except a limited number of reports, there has been little discussion and evidence on the educational experiences of refugees in the host communities. Therefore, this study intends to discuss the educational aspirations of newcomer refugee youth in Flanders and Brussels. This proposed research will be based on qualitative methodology. The data will be collected through semi-structured interviews and two focus groups. In this study, based on content analysis with NVivo, we will report on the experiences of the refugee youth, perceived discrimination, the aspirations for higher education, future expectations/plans/hopes. Findings from our study will provide new insights about educational aspirations of refugee youth between the ages of seventeen and twenty-six who arrived in Belgium between 2011 and 2017, the challenges they encountered during their efforts in assessing higher education, their solution attempts and the help they have received from governmental or non-governmental institutes. Our critical discussions will reckon with the social and political aspects of the intersection between the humanitarian refugee policies and immigrant integration policies.