Access To Education

February 8, 2018

Education: One of the basic needs that many youth with precarious migration status are denied. Too many of them come here full of dreams and visions of how they will make it big, make the impossible possible, and achieve all that they were denied back at home. Unfortunately, in Canada they are welcomed by other challenges, like their status. Immigration status affects access to schooling at many levels. For some, it limits the opportunities to attend elementary or high school, and for most it bars access to post-secondary. Many youth across the country cannot go to college or university because they are not convention refugees or permanent residents and therefore need to pay international fees and apply for study permits without any access to scholarships or loans. Maybe this is why they are referred to as “dreamers”, and would have remained to be if no one had intervened. However, last year FCJ Refugee Centre, in collaboration with York University, started a program to create pathways for access to education for youth with precarious immigration status, which will make the dreams of many a reality.

This is the first program of its kind in Canada, and while still in its pilot stage, the program facilitated the admission of 10 students into different undergraduate programs in the fall. These students remain responsible for domestic tuition fees, despite the fact that they do not have access to student loans.

The other pathway that was created was a bridging program for students who may have been out of school for some time and needed support to transition to university. More than 30 students undertook the bridging course, a Sociology course which focused on critical theories of migration. This course ran three times so far and took three months to complete.

The pilot program is funded through a grant from the City if Toronto as a legacy for the Pan American Games, to support Pan Am communities. This program is designed to bring some systemic change in the education sector as well as to help many youth achieve their potential. Below is a link from a CBC broadcast where two of the youth, also members of our group, and pioneers of the program, tell their story: