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The schooling experience of Syrian refugee children during exile: from transit to resettlement

Liyun Wan

Research framework: This article is based on an ethnographic survey conducted with a dozen Syrian refugee families who arrived in Strasbourg after 2011.

Objectives: We explain the children’s educational pathways, from Syria to France via transit countries (Lebanon, Turkey), in order to show the constraints of schooling during exile, as well as the different forms of family mobilization for access to rights and academic success for these children.

Methodology: This ethnographic study mobilizes qualitative methods such as “participant observation” and the collection of “life stories”.

Results: The educational constraints encountered in transit countries are linked to the limits of access to rights. These create gaps and put children behind in their schooling when they arrive in France. The obstacles posed by accumulated delays, the language and the contents taught sometimes lead to dead ends. Despite the difficulties, families are also actors who mobilize different resources to ensure that their children continue their education.

Conclusion: The successive constraints during exile lead to questions about educational institutions that evaluate and categorize students while forgetting their background. What could we consider in order to ensure equal treatment between children with different backgrounds?

Contribution: Starting from the numerous existing studies that deal with the educational constraints of refugee children from an institutional point of view, this research explores the family from the inside to show the point of view of its members. It links the institutional dimension to the family and individual dimension.