Education as a Social Determinant of Health: Issues Facing Indigenous and Visible Minority Students in Postsecondary Education in Western Canada
2. Literature Review—Barriers to PSE for Students from Low Income Backgrounds
Additional Barriers Faced by Students from LIIVM Backgrounds
4.1. The Aspirations of Students Enrolled in Post-Secondary Education
4.1.1. Hope for a Better Future
“I was tired of being on social assistance because it’s like they have to know your life. They dictate your life, right, depending’ on which worker you have, right. They ask questions like about income, about umm who’s all living’ with you and stuff like that. And some of it’s personal you know, and some of them they don’t need to know….”
4.1.2. Giving Back to Their Community
“I come across a lot of the Africans that are coming in and they express a lot of problems with integration into the mainstream and there is the need for somebody that they will be comfortable with, their own—they say that they feel intimidated over the time you know and that somebody of their own would be very comfortable.”
4.1.3. Upgrading Qualifications
4.1.4. Being Good Role Models
“I wanted to show my daughter who’s gonna be ten this year that she could go to school, you know… that she doesn’t have to work at low-paying jobs or, or be on welfare, right… I wanted to change all that for her.”
4.2. Challenges Faced during the Course of Their Study Program
4.2.1. An Oppressive Financial Assistance Scheme
“If the intent of the assistance is to help people like me not become burden on the system but to become a productive member they were going to give me something that will sustain me to go through the program. At the end of the day after the tuition fee, I was left with $840 to pay for my rent, transport and lodge. Most students in my course were breaking down…”
Career investigation: Qualified students must have a set of employment goals…Referral to training: Student advisor to approve your training plan…Commencement of training: Training commences and you enter Service Management. This is your support system. It monitors your attendance and progress while you are in school.Completion of training: you…start looking for workFollow-up: you will be contacted twice over a six-month period, once at three months and once at six months, for a report on your job search or employment situation
“I had to dig in, even though the system is there, you have to know the vocabulary to use because it’s controlled to a point where they don’t tell you until you ask.”
Implications of Financial Assistance Schemes on Student Health and Well-Being—A Critical Theory Perspective
4.2.2. The Culture of Teaching and Learning
“Teachers should incorporate indigenous ways of knowing/learning such as sharing circles as this will contextualize teaching to our lived experiences and make it culturally more relevant—this could help to break down the mistrust and the interaction problems between students and teachers and the cliquey problem we have here.”
“Classroom social norms and the teaching practices of some teachers are not reflective of the values of equality, empowerment and respect for diversity.”
4.2.3. Racism—An Ongoing Experience
“She seems to be promoting inequality through: not penalizing plagiarism, playing favorites, accepting and perpetuating racist attitudes and behaviors from students and creating a hierarchical classroom structure.”
“Powerless, unable to resolve social conflicts, discouraged social cohesiveness and created a negative classroom atmosphere.”
“Excluding you in a conversation, condescending stares and the ‘cliquey problem’ with distinct racial groups sticking together.”
“White women refuse to acknowledge there is a history and they don’t even want to talk about this history.”
“So I am an immigrant—I don’t want to restructure their school system, but if you speak to anybody and they say that’s how this school system is, you feel like maybe it’s going to look like I’m from a different learning standard, I cannot cope with the learning standard here—or maybe it’s me, I wasn’t educated in this country so maybe it’s me who is having this problem.I have not spoken to anybody (authority figures) but we students talk amongst ourselves and they say that’s their school system and that’s how it is.I sometimes feel I’m not even supposed to complain because I don’t deserve this. This is like—they (the whites) are doing me a favor, they don’t have to do that for me. Sometimes you get that mentality because of where you come from, so you don’t even see the biases or anything in that system….”
Racism and Its Influence on Health and Well-Being
4.3. Perceived Influence of Challenges on Health and Well-Being
4.3.1. Physical and Psychological Problems
“I’ve never experienced stress before like what I am experiencing when I started school. I have started to taking pills for stress because I will feel it in my neck, I will feel my muscle—I try not to and I know its stress. Sometimes I would feel like I am drowning so I have to tell myself “stop and just relax” and don’t think about anything until your muscles start to relax because I can feel it. I never experienced those things before until I started school so I know its stress.The pressure—it is affecting my memory. It’s true because before I had a very good memory but I noticed that since I started school I’m very, very forgetful—last term I was the type who was very attentive. But now I forget things that’s for sure. So now I try to train my memories—train my brain to remember things because I find myself forgetting things easily—very easily. It’s affecting my relationships as well …,I noticed a lot of people dropped the course—when we started I think we were 40 something but now we’re less probably maybe we’re around 20 something. See lots of people dropped the course because they couldn’t take the course load …the pressure.”
4.3.2. Consulting Formal School Counseling Services—Not Part of Culture
4.3.3. What Keeps Them Going
“I grew up in a home where I knew that prayers work. People pray when you have problem. I feel like relief when I’m praying and in my heart I know yes I know there’s a God. Prayer—that’s what kept us going through the war. Back home in the war that’s what we lived on—prayers.”
5.1. Practice and Policy Implications
5.2. Making Financial Assistance Schemes Work for Low Income Minority Student
5.3. Addressing Racism
5.4. Introducing Culturally Relevant Teaching and Learning Pedagogy
5.5. Other Structural Supports to Empower Marginalized Students
Conflicts of Interest
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Shankar, J.; Ip, E.; Khalema, E.; Couture, J.; Tan, S.; Zulla, R.T.; Lam, G. Education as a Social Determinant of Health: Issues Facing Indigenous and Visible Minority Students in Postsecondary Education in Western Canada. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 3908-3929. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph10093908
Shankar J, Ip E, Khalema E, Couture J, Tan S, Zulla RT, Lam G. Education as a Social Determinant of Health: Issues Facing Indigenous and Visible Minority Students in Postsecondary Education in Western Canada. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2013; 10(9):3908-3929. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph10093908Chicago/Turabian Style
Shankar, Janki, Eugene Ip, Ernest Khalema, Jennifer Couture, Shawn Tan, Rosslynn T. Zulla, and Gavin Lam. 2013. "Education as a Social Determinant of Health: Issues Facing Indigenous and Visible Minority Students in Postsecondary Education in Western Canada" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 10, no. 9: 3908-3929. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph10093908