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District and Partners Support Refugees with Technology

Learning while navigating a new language, a new culture, and during a pandemic is made less difficult with access to technology. The District’s Settlement Workers in Schools – or SWIS workers – have been connecting newcomer students and their families who need it most with tablets, computers and, the skills to use them.

Reliance on the virtual world has increased since the pandemic. In consultation with school principals and staff, SWIS Workers have identified students and families who are immigrants and refugees and could most benefit from support with digital literacy.

Natalya Khan, Coordinator, Settlement Services who leads SWIS workers says they have seen an increase in families seeking their help, as COVID-19 has meant additional challenges for newcomers to Canada:

Feelings of isolation are common during the pandemic, and this is one more thing that people new to Canada are working through as they face multiple challenges. Access to technology and support with the skills to use it can help.”

Through a partnership with Simon Fraser University’s Friends of Simon program and Rogers, more than 15 students who are new to Canada from seven schools across the District now have an iPad at home.

Additionally, seven refugee families throughout the District are taking a SWIS-run Adult Digital Literacy Program at Edmonds Community School. SWIS workers targeted support at families who did not have digital literacy skills, spoke very little English, have limited finances, and children in our schools. The parents participating are all Arabic and Tigrinya speaking and are now learning how to use computers, the internet, school websites, and email, so that they can also support their children as they settle into their new schools. When the program is over, the families will be gifted desktop computers and webcams provided by the BC Technology for Learning Society.

Ms Khan:

It has been very heartwarming to work with departments and schools across the District and with our partners. Together we are helping to address digital literacy and access to equipment for some of our newcomers to Canada, as they make Burnaby their new home.”    

Learn more about Settlement Workers in Schools.

Read the Burnaby Now news story.

Posted December 2020