The more schooling a child has missed, the greater the gap in academic performance. Your student has to make up this gap, while also learning English.

Students are also likely to have limited literacy abilities in their first language or additional languages. On commencing school in Australia, challenges include:

  • Transitioning through different education settings (e.g. English language school to mainstream).
  • Managing new learning environments.
  • Learning English language and literacy.
  • Substantial gaps between their educational knowledge and that of their Australian peers.
  • The impact of ongoing settlement demands on learning.

Although education is a basic human right, enshrined in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1951 Refugee Convention, students are likely to have experienced severe disruptions to their schooling, and in some instances no schooling at all.

During the violent conflicts students’ families fled, their schools and teachers may have been specifically targeted for elimination. Having fled their country, refugees have limited entitlement to education in countries of asylum, where children often work to support their families – further making schooling impossible to access.

In 2016, only 61 per cent of primary school-aged refugee children and just 23 per cent of refugee secondary school-aged young people attended school. If schooling is available, it typically occurs in a non-formal setting, often in temporary shelters or in the open air with whoever is available to teach (trained or untrained).

Social and cultural conventions, and poverty, are likely to mean that refugee girls have fewer opportunities than boys.