Syrian refugee enrolment increases in Regina as school feels strain on resources

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Syrian students welcomed with open arms, but teaching resources being stretched – Feb 9, 2016

REGINA – Regina Public Schools say approximately 160 Syrian refugee students will be enrolled in the school system by the end of March.

Among them is 8-year old Abdelbaree Al Hariri, who started class on Feb. 5 at Marion McVeety School.

Since arriving in Canada, life has changed dramatically for him.

“He wasn’t really happy there,” Salma Elshakan Kiri, a fellow student translating for Al Hariri, said.

“He said that he’s really happy that he came here, and he’s going to have a good life here, and he’s really happy he’s here.”

Al Hariri has only been in class for a week but already knows that he wants to be a doctor when he grows up.

He’s one of 108 Syrian refugee students enrolled, or in the process of being enrolled, in the Regina Public Schools system.

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“We do a school assessment at the Newcomer Welcome Centre. Then we did a school orientation where we brought all the families and the students to the school they’ll be going at,” Linda Mitchell, English As Additional Language (EAL) Coordinator explained.

“They’re in a regular classroom. Learning their English as they would as a second language, and a lot of it is no different than with French immersion.”

The newcomers also work closely with EAL teachers who assess their needs and English skills.

However, the school says those resources are running low.

“From the school division perspective, we do not have the resources that we need to meet the needs of all these children,” Regina Public Schools Director of Education Greg Enion said.

The school also says if it had additional funding, it could increase the number of EAL teachers.

So for now, Al Hariri shares his time with other students and works towards his ambitious goal of being a doctor.