Education for inclusion: strategies to reduce immigrant marginalisation in Europe and the U.S.28 June 2011
Alistair Ross, Emeritus Professor, London Metropolitan University, presented the recent results of the Migration Policy Index (www.mipex.eu), which assessed educational policies towards migrants in 31 states in Europe and North America. The education strand of the MIPEX III concentrated on evaluating four broad policy areas of each of the 31 countries: access to educational provision; policies targeting specific needs of migrants to promote equality of outcome; policies giving new opportunities supporting migrants in the wider community; policies directed at, and to affect, the population as a whole. Each of the measures produced very different results across Europe. The overall results indicate that the most engaged in education for migrants are Portugal, Belgium and the Nordic countries. There is substantial variation between countries.
Margie McHugh, Co-Director of the Migration Policy Institute’s National Centre on Immigrant Integration Policy, based in Washington D.C., said that the question of how to integrate immigrants is still a big issue in the US. The rise in immigrants has paralleled the debate about education reform. Key elements of such reform are crucial to the children who do not speak English as their first language. These children, also known as ELL students, are showing a downward trend and questions are being raised as to why this is so. Ms. McHugh highlighted some of the pivotal areas of reform: improving teacher training in combining language and content instruction; leadership and engagement programmes for parents; challenging curriculum and differentiated instruction; and the testing and accountability for ELL students.
Mark Levy, Project Manager of the British Council’s Inclusion and Diversity in Education (INDIE) project, talked about the INDIE project, which operated in schools in nine EU Member States and cooperated with education partners at national, regional and local levels. The objectives of the project were to: raise academic standards and positively affect the dropout level; develop guidelines and sharing of good practice; and including young people in the decision making process. Indeed, young people were a central part of the project from the beginning. The three-tier approach had policymakers, schools, and young people explicitly integrated in a whole school approach.
Fidele Mutwarasibo, Integration Manager at the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), focused on the importance of encouraging migrant parents to be involved in the education of their children. The ICI ‘Pathways to Parental Leadership’ initiative involved five Dublin-based schools and assessed the level of involvement of parents in each school. The initiative, which involved qualitative interviews with parents led to the development of a toolkit for schools to use promote migrant parents’ involvement in the school life of their children. The toolkit has elements that include a welcoming process including welcoming materials; facilitating family and school partnership; improving home and school communications; looking at the school as a social outlet in the community; building sustainable partnerships; and involving parents in the decision making