The (in)coherence of Canadian refugee education policy with the United Nations’ strategy

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This study assesses the coherence of Canada’s educational policy regime with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Refugee Education 2030 strategy. We articulate a theoretical framework that combines theories about policy coherence, policy attributes, and policy tools, which informs a two-phase methodology. First, we conducted jurisdiction-based scoping reviews of policies in Canada’s 13 provinces and territories which have constitutional authority over education. This yielded a sample of 155 documents, which we then analyzed for its vertical coherence with Refugee Education 2030. Our analysis focused on five categories of need in the UNHCR strategy with respect to refugee students, namely access to education, accelerated education, language education, mental health and psychosocial support, and special education. The findings reveal there are policies across Canada that target responses to the five categories of need. Although some policies are exemplary in their coherence with Refugee Education 2030, Canada’s refugee education policy regime is characterized by many inconsistencies and significant gaps. Policymakers in Canada could use the specific findings to develop or revise policies to address shortcomings. Researchers and policymakers in other countries who find value in our approach could replicate the study’s method in their own jurisdictions, using the instruments provided in appendices to identify strengths and gaps.


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How to Cite
Schutte, V. R., Milley, P., & Dulude, E. (2022). The (in)coherence of Canadian refugee education policy with the United Nations’ strategy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (39).
Author Biographies

Valerie Rose Schutte, Independent Researcher

Valerie Schutte is a former graduate student at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests include the education of forcibly displaced persons and the mental health of children and young people.

Peter Milley, University of Ottawa

Peter Milley is associate professor in the Faculty of Education and Director of the Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services at the University of Ottawa. His research encompasses multiple dimensions of educational leadership, administration, and policy.

Eliane Dulude, University of Ottawa

Eliane Dulude is assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa and Principal Research in the Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services. Her research concentrates on educational administration and policy implementation.