In 2016, thousands of Syrian refugees entered Canada, hoping to find safety and stability in a new country. Nearly all had been forced to leave Syria with few, if any, personal belongings. Many had lost their homes, their possessions, and, in some cases, family members and friends.
Immigrating to Canada would prove bittersweet. Most were happy to be settling in a peaceful country. However, many felt uncertain about how they would support themselves, especially without access to documentary proof of their education, professional skills and qualifications, or licenses.
Fleeing a country in crisis typically means that important personal papers get left behind and become inaccessible.
As a result, refugees are forced to start over once they reach their destinations. Without official education documents, they find it difficult to be admitted to post-secondary school or to secure employment in their field.
Because they lacked documentation, many of the Syrian refugees in Canada relied on government support, survival jobs, and alternative careers to support their families. World Education Services (WES) recognized its unique ability to help.
The Refugee Pilot Project
In 2016, WES launched the refugee pilot project, which provided credential evaluation reports to Syrian refugees—in spite of incomplete documentation—helping them to lower barriers to education and employment.
Kevin Kamal, associate director of Institutional & Client Relations at WES, helped with the launch. “For the pilot project, WES provided evaluation reports for over 337 Syrian refugees with non-verifiable documents,” he says. “A good number of the 337 candidates used their reports to gain admission to colleges, and a handful to universities. Some [refugees] were successfully using their evaluation report for licensing with professional licensing bodies in Canada, and others gained employment offers.”
By partnering with institutions like ACCES Employment, COSTI, and the Arab Community Centre of Toronto, WES was able to identify refugees who were eligible to participate in the project, which ended in 2017.
The following year, the WES Gateway Program was launched. The program expanded the reach of the pilot project to eligible refugees and individuals forcibly displaced from six other countries in crisis: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela—in addition to Syria.
WES Gateway Program Success Stories
Among our success stories is Talar Chitjian, who participated in the pilot project. A former Syrian refugee, she is now studying law at York University, Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.
Another program participant, Bashar M., was forced to relocate twice before coming to Canada. He says, “I am very satisfied with the Gateway report and thankful to WES. I am confident in a better future for my family and myself in Canada now. I have registered with CPA Ontario, and my first exam will be in September 2019.”
Eligible individuals can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that a WES Gateway Program credential evaluation can help them get their lives back to normal. The report can facilitate their career pursuits or higher education goals, and help make alternative employment or academic options possible.
Read Flavia’s Story
How to Qualify for the Program
To qualify for the WES Gateway Program, a candidate must answer yes to each of the following questions:
- Were you educated in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, or Venezuela?
- Do you now possess at least one credible piece of documentation from the educational institution you attended?
- Have you been referred to the WES Gateway Program by a Canadian WES partner?
At this time, the WES Gateway Program is only available in Canada. Learn more here.