International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Nigel O.M. Brissett, Ed.D

Second Reader

Laurie Ross, Ph.D


The influx of refugee youth in United States challenges the structure of the US formal school system, as it struggles to manage the unique needs of refugee youth. This research explores African refugee youth needs in the formal school system in Worcester, MA, and how some of these needs are better supported in a supplementary education institution, African Community Education (ACE). The research draws on individual interviews and focus group discussions with refugee youth and ACE’s staff to analyze the complexities and challenges refugee youth are confronted within formal schools and how they are motivated to seek supplementary education. The results suggest that while African refugee youth’s academic challenges in school are partly as a result of low English language skills, an even more important struggle is the residual trauma and sense of exclusion that they feel while in formal schooling. ACE provides the support system that helps these students with these challenges. This research paper also provides recommendations specifically tailored to ACE to strengthen their supplemental education provided to African refugee youth attending Worcester Public Schools.





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