New M.Ed. Graduate studies children from war-torn countries

August 08, 2008

Jane Wambui GichuruJane Wambui Gichuru recently defended her Master’s thesis (Lived School Experiences of Sudanese Refugees) to earn her M.Ed. degree from the Faculty of Education. Jane’s work focuses on children and youth in schools in Southern Ontario cities, cities that have seen a recent influx of families from countries in civil conflict. Although the children and young people have been removed from the trauma of violence, they bring with them unique challenges that may adversely affect their ability to assimilate into the Canadian culture and may inhibit their ability to adapt and achieve in school.

“The purpose of the study was to explore the school experiences of refugee secondary school students in Southwestern Ontario by collecting their stories.” The study revealed that there were no programs in the schools to assess social and emotional needs of refugee students. Jane’s work stresses that schools alone cannot resolve the issues facing communities. They can, however, play a pivotal role. “Teachers may not be equipped to provide therapy for trauma, but can seek training to recognize signs of trauma and refer students for appropriate interventions.” Understanding the pre-migration, trans-migration and post-migration factors will equip educators to prepare to receive students from countries in civil conflict. The study also revealed that the policy around school placement for students from countries in civil conflict needs to be reviewed to address the educational gaps. English as a Second language (ESL) support needs to be extended for the students to achieve English language proficiency and become successful in school.

Jane Wambui Gichuru immigrated to Canada in 2003. She earned her B.Ed at Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya and a post-graduate diploma in program development from Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi Kenya.

Following the successful defense of her thesis Jane plans to work with community agencies, and educational institutions in addressing the unique needs of students particularly students from countries in civil conflict and spend time with her family.