Adult Literacy: Challenges Facing Adult Syrian Refugees With Minimal Or No Prior Formal Schooling
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The 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees describes a refugee as a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted... is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country. " (UNHCR web site). Every year, millions of people around the world are forced to leave their homes to save their lives. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR, 2019) points out that over 80 million people are currently displaced due to different reasons, such as armed conflicts, famine, diseases, and other natural disasters. Recently, the catastrophic wars in the Middle East obliged millions of people to flee their home countries and seek refuge in safer places. The purpose of this study is to explore the reasons and the effects of limited English literacy skills from the perspectives of the two groups of the study participants (the Syrian participants and the ESL teachers) on the Syrian participants' integration and the resettlement process. This research study follows a qualitative research design by conducting semi-structured one-on-one interviews with the eight adult male Syrian participants and the four ESL teachers. The data analysis process started with open codes. Then, similar codes were grouped together to form themes and subthemes. The results indicated that all Syrian participants left their schools at an early age in Syria because they wanted to get a job to help their families. Secondly, they pointed out that their major challenge after moving to Canada was the English language which hinders their integration process. On the other hand, the ESL teachers pointed out that they need more training sessions on how to teach and deal with different refugee students coming from different parts of the world. Besides, they mentioned that the curriculum guidelines they use at their school do not meet the students' learning needs. The study concludes with recommendations for a better understanding of the urgent needs of the refugee students to help them understand the language as well as the culture of the host country.