Refugee voices on education

refugees welcome to ScotlandCan you imagine having to leave behind your home, friends and family and go on your own to a new country you know nothing about? That’s what thousands of young refugees have to do to get away from war, famine and persecution in their home countries.

We went to Anniesland College in Glasgow to meet Beza, Yusuf and Melissa, three young people who are refugees from Eritrea, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They have been through some terrible times, but all three are keen to learn and to rebuild their lives in Scotland.

Challenges facing young refugees in Scotland

It’s not easy for Beza, Yusuf and Melissa coping with so much change and uncertainty about their futures. They say that waiting to find out if they are allowed to stay in Scotland is one of the hardest things for a refugee: “It’s very difficult to concentrate for the learning because you just think about the answer Home Office gonna give you”, Melissa tells us.

Getting used to a very different way of life is not easy either: “The thing is, our country we learn some kind of different things than is here and the questions is different, teacher is different, everything is different”, Yusuf explains. Melissa has good things to say about education in Scotland though, she likes how easy it is to approach teachers here: “you are free to talk to your teacher, you can share something with your teacher”.

Two of their top tips for other young refugees are to study hard and to learn English.“Don’t give up, just keep going and have a choice” says Beza. “Don’t forget where you come from”, says Yusuf.  And their dreams?  “To help in my own country and the people who need help also”, Melissa tells us.

How ESOL classes are helping young refugees

Learning a new language has been a big challenge for Beza, Yusuf and Melissa: “the difficult was the pronunciation and it’s not our first language – it was difficult when we came here”.

The young refugees have been taking ESOL classes which are helping them to learn English and adapt to life in a new country which is so different from their own. The classes have also given them the chance to make new friends: “I’m happy to understand the people and to share conversations”, Yusuf says, “We feel like a family… We trust each other. And we work very hard, we help each other.”Refugees welcome - ethnically diverse hands

Support that’s helped young refugee pupils cope with getting used to their new life in Scotland

The young people share about the support they have had and how it’s helped them feel able to start rebuilding their lives:  “when I arrived here….my social worker she helped me with everything! She gave me support, not only for education, for all my personal things, like appointments. When I have like bad mood, I called her and she will came and take me out … we can meet new friends, new people, so we don’t feel alone. Like, I stay without family but they make me happy and forget all of things like the back history”.

More info

Refugees in Scotland If you’re a refugee or seeking asylum, you and your family can get info and advice from the Scottish Refugee Council.

The Scottish Guardianship Service supports unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people, helping them access the support they need to rebuild their lives and make informed decisions about their future.