Lifelong Learning Programme

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Factual Background

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Factual background related to the challenges encountered by secondary school teachers in managing multicultural classes.

Factual Background

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Chapter 1: Understanding migration flows and their impact in education
1.3. EU Policy on Education in Multicultural Environment
Considered as the fourth pillar of humanitarian aid with nutrition, housing and health, education is seen by international institutions as a life-saving sector. Right and equal access to education is written in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as International Convention on the Rights of the Child.

How can education system help immigrant students integrate in their new community?

The analysis developed in the 2013 study conducted for the European Commission highlights the importance of school autonomy and of a holistic approach to educational support for new migrant children; this includes linguistic and academic support, parental and community involvement, and intercultural education.

The 2009 Eurydice survey on integrating immigrant children into schools in Europe (following the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008) revealed that:
  • Measures to ensure that information is passed on efficiently between schools and immigrant families, specifically by using languages other than those used at school, are essential. For instance publishing written information about the school system in the language of origin of immigrant families, the use of interpreters in various situations in the school life and the appointment of resource persons to be specifically responsible for liaising between immigrant pupils, their families, and the school.
  • Proficiency in their language of origin is widely considered to be of great importance for immigrant pupils. It can make it easier for these pupils to learn the language of instruction and thus stimulate their development in all areas.
Along the same lines, the 2015 OECD report on immigrant students at school made several recommendations for educational policies:
  • Provide language instruction as early as possible
  • Offer support and advice to immigrant parents as well as high-quality early childhood education
  • Encourage all teachers to prepare themselves for diverse classrooms
  • Avoid concentrating immigrant students in the same, disadvantaged schools
  • Avoid ability grouping, grade repetition and tracking as educational policies
  • Highlight the opportunities of cultural diversity
A 2015 study published in the French Journal of Pedagogy found that immigrant students do not face the same disadvantages based on the country in which they study, which shows how strongly national education policies influence learning inequalities. For example, discriminations in French schools are mainly caused by inadequate school management and the deterioration of the educational service, while in Germany they are mostly explained by the social background of the pupils. The study concludes by recommending an analysis of the quality and quantity of educational services and activities aimed at immigrant students and/or students in difficulty, as well as the cooperation of European countries which may learn from each other when creating education policies.

A 2011 report on cohabitation, diversity and liberty in Europe directed by the Council of Europe made several recommendations regarding education, among which was the promotion of informal educational methods, as well as learning programs for immigrant adults in need of them (that may prevent lack of knowledge from passing from one generation to the other.)

The 2016 report by the expert group NESET II on “Policies and Practices for equality and Inclusion in and through Education” follows on from the 2013 survey. It expresses a series of recommendations to ensure inclusive education and provide support for migrant and ethnic minority children and promote and support the involvement of families and local communities.

Finally, the Paris Declaration, signed in March 2015 following the terrorist attacks and violent extremism that have struck Europe in recent years, reaffirmed the importance promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination non-discrimination through education.

Education ministers committed to strengthen their actions in those different fields and to cooperate and coordinate, to exchange experiences and to ensure that the best idea sand practices can be shared throughout the European Union.
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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.