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As such students at similar levels in both categories were grouped together to ensure optimal benefits for all participants.
When evaluated on a practical level, it was found that communicating the benefits of the program to refugee communities was critical to success. Parents in these communities needed to understand that the program offers a pathway for their children towards success and employment, as well as an effective future in the country.
Specifically, the program offers a "hands on" learning opportunity for students in Years 11 and 12 of their secondary schooling. While it is a recognized senior qualification, its focus is on practical learning, helping students to enter apprenticeships, training at TAFE, or entering the workforce after completing their schooling. The program is sufficiently flexible to allow students to design study programs that suit their needs and interests on a very practical level. This creates a platform to help young people with a severe shortage of educational background and time to nevertheless enter the Australian workforce and become productive citizens.
At Debney Park Secondary College, the program has been refined and implemented to cater to any needs from the refugee sector.
In the United States, the LEAP English Academy in St. Paul offers educational services to immigrant and refugee student who entered school after age 15 and have been in the United States less than two years. Similar to the program in Australia, these students have little opportunity to gain the language and skills necessary to graduate from a traditional institution. The institution offers a four-year program to help students with their English proficiency, obtain a diploma, and prepare for vocational training, work, or to enter college (Morse, 2006).
2. Limitations of the Research
A study of this sort, where an entire community and its education system is compared to another, there will be some limitations. One of these is the scope of the study. To make the findings clearer and more manageable, two schools at the secondary level were chosen, with programs offered specifically to refugee students of secondary school age, but with very little formal educational backgrounds. All other levels of education for this sector have therefore been left out of the study.
Included in the limitations, then, is the number of schools being compared, the age group of the students, the refugee status of the students, and the countries included in the investigation. investigation. Different countries might be compared, for example, or similar programs that might be offered in developing but democratic countries. Larger studies with more scope might also provide a wider range of results for further clarity about the issue of refugee students and their needs.
3. Ethical Considerations
Ethical considerations are always an important component of academic study. In this study, particularly, it is important to protect the identity of all individuals involved, and particularly those with refugee status. Hence, all names and specific identities should be kept completely confidential. In the case of interviews or questionnaires, such information should be kept confidential as well. Since the scope of this study does not in fact call for contact with any specific students or teachers, this considiration is currently somewhat moot. However, it is an important consideration in similar future studies, where the scale of study might be larger or more personally involved with the persons at certain institutions. In general, the privacy and confidentiality rights of individuals are at the core of ethical considerations when involving persons in academic study.
In a more theoretical study like the current document, ethical considerations might be applied to the topic of study itself. In terms of the refugee situation worldwide, and particularly in the schools setting, the issue of discrimination remains prominent. Students from refugee backgrounds may be discriminated against in terms of their ethnic heritage, language, or educational prowess. Hence, when implementing programs to help such students achieve their goals in society, it is important for support structures to be put in place to ensure that refugees do not experience further discrimination in terms of their human rights than the case has been before. Particularly, the state of Victoria has several measures in place to ensure this, of which one of the most important is its Guidelines for Managing Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Schools (Department of Education, Employment, and Training, 2001). According to this document, the guidelines have been necessitated by the sheer expanse of diversity in the state. In the state, there are representatives from 208 countries and 151 languages among citizens. Of these, some 20% are from countries where a language other than English dominates. This means a significant amount of non-first language speakers in the state, which includes the workplace and schools. Both these settings are rich breeding grounds for discrimination if guidelines are not in place or enforced.
In addition to immigrants and Aboriginal peoples, refugees often originate from countries where English is not their first language. This creates for them not only a challenge in terms of education, as seen above, but also in terms of potential discrimination. Teachers should therefore be careful that enrolling these students in specifically tailored programs such as the VCAL does not create more grounds for discrimination. Indeed, discrimination at school has signficant dangers that can be to the detriment of the ultimate success of such students.
On the one hand, discrimination can further damage the self-respect that schooling seeks to provide for these students. On the other, discrimination at school all too easily becomes discrimination in the workplace. Hence, a hostile work environment for refugees who have completed a suitable qualification may create difficulty in continuing such employment, which in turn is to the detriment of the economy in the country as a whole.
Discrimination against refugees in schools is a significant issue in the United States. According to Garrett (2006, p. 8), specific nationalities and ethnicities are specific targets for discrimination not only from children, but also from teachers themselves. Particularly, Muslim and Arab children suffer as a result of rampant national racism against these groups. There does not seem to be a specific policy guideline related to racism in American schools like the one that exists in Australia. This is extremely damaging not only to children themselves, but ultimately to the economy of the country a well, as mentioned above.
4. Analysis of Findings
When considering the situation for refugees in Australia and the United States, the main difference appears to be the degree of discrimination suffered by specific nationalities. In the United States, there is a very focused sense of discrimination and hostility against the Arab nation as a whole and against refugees specifically. There appears to be no differentiation among terrorists and Arab nationals who have fled for their lives because of the same terrorists. This does not mean that other ethnicities are not at the receiving end of such discrimination, however, or indeed that there are no measures in place to discourage this. On the surface, however, discrimination against refugees occurs on a more specific level than it does in Australia.
Australia also appears to have a more official approach to the racism problem than the United States. Legislation in the United States, of course, prohibits discrimination on the grounds of any differentiating factor. This does not seem to affect the degree of discrimination experienced by refugees in schools, however.
Another significant barrier that refugees experience in both countries is language. Older students especially suffer, since the language and other barriers are far too great to overcome in four years or less for the purpose of becoming a productive citizen. While second language programs are in place in both countries, there is a great need in high schools to address not only the language barrier, but also the many other aspects of refugee life that create difficulties for such students to become successful adults and contributors to the economy of their respective countries.
On a more general level, high-school age students who are refugees often suffer from a very broken level of schooling. Along with language and other emotional and mental considerations that relate to their status, this barrier is nearly insurmountable for students who are simply placed in public or government schools. They have very little hope of successfully completing their high school education, where this leads to unemployment at best and illegal activities at worst.
In general, both countries seem to face significant challenges when considering the increasing influx of refugees from non-English speaking countries, especially when it comes to education at the secondary and tertiary level. To improve the economy and society as a whole, the issues must be addressed effectively. The two examples of programs that specifically target high school refugee students in the United States and Australia appear to provide very good food for thought and potential models for further investigation and implementation.
In Australia, Debney Park provides education from Year 7 to 12 of Australian high school students (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development,…[continue]
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