A Case Study of a Community Based Tutoring and Mentoring Program

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Kwiczala, Christina
Community Based Education , Organization Theory , Portuguese Canadians , Educational Disadvantage
Portuguese-Canadians have historically faced disadvantages in the Canadian education system (Coelho, 1973, 1977; Fonseca, 2010; Morgado, 2009; Noivo, 1997; Nunes, 1999; Ornstein, 2000, 2006; Santos, 2006). While there have been studies conducted into this phenomenon, these disadvantages remain relatively unexplored by the research community and unknown to mainstream society. Furthermore, many of those studies have focused primarily on the various manifestations of the problem of educational disadvantage and have not explored the specific programs or practices adopted by the community to address these issues. Community based educational organizations have been shown to assist in the cultural adjustment process of immigrant youth. These organizations provide youth with the necessary cultural capital to allow them to construct high academic and vocational aspirations, and to cope with the various discouraging experiences they may have in schools (Bielenberg, n.d; James, 2005; James & Haig-Brown, 2001; Zhou, 2005). The purpose of this study was to describe a community-based tutoring and mentoring program and to examine the stakeholders' perceptions of the program's impact on the Portuguese-Canadian students whom it serves, to respond to the educational disadvantages this group faces. This program was established by members of the Portuguese-Canadian community in Toronto as a reaction to data outlining this group's educational disadvantages. Document and transcript analysis provided a rich description of the program and revealed how the program impacted the students whom it served. Specifically, this program supports its students during transitions, helps to address negative schooling experiences, and fosters their acquisition of English. This ultimately results in improvements in these students' academics, social skills, and self-esteem and is having an overall positively impact on their attitudes and perceptions of education.
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