Learning problems in children of refugee background: a systematic review

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Thirty-four studies were included in this systematic review of learning problems in children of refugee background.  Refugee youth showed similar secondary school outcomes to native-born youth. However, there is limited prevalence data in younger refugee children, though a number of risk and resource factors were identified.

While learning problems are common in high-income countries, refugee children may pose cumulative risk for educational disadvantage. Thirty-four studies were identified from six databases to determine prevalence and determinants of learning problems in refugee children.  While refugee youth had similar secondary school outcomes to native-born youth, there is limited prevalence data for preschool and primary school outcomes. No studies were identified examining specific language disorders or autism spectrum disorders. However, numerous risk and resource factors were identified from the available studies. Risk factors included parental misunderstandings, teacher stereotyping, bullying and racial discrimination, trauma, and forced detention. Resource factors for success included family cohesion, parental involvement in education, cultural sensitivity, and successful acculturation. However, there are multiple gaps within the field regarding refugee children.

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