How are children with a migration background treated in Denmark

Students with a migration background need more support in order to be successful in school and in society


(Berlin / Paris, March 19, 2018) - Low formal education and low professional status of parents as well as difficulties with the language of instruction are the greatest obstacles to the success of schoolchildren with a migration background. Education and social policy must therefore address this group more effectively and in a more targeted manner and help young people to develop their full potential. One comes to this conclusion Special evaluation of the PISA data from 2015which was released today.

According to the study, the proportion of students with a migrant background has risen significantly in almost all OECD countries over the past ten years. Almost every fourth 15-year-old student in OECD and EU countries is now either born abroad or has at least one foreign-born parent.

Many of these students do worse in school than their domestic peers. This is especially true for first generation immigrants (foreign-born students from foreign-born parents). On average across OECD countries, around one in two first-generation immigrants acquire basic literacy, math, and science skills. For students without a migrant background, this proportion is around three quarters.

"Good education is crucial for young migrants to integrate into the economy and society," said Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and G20 Sherpa, who presented the report in Brussels. "It is alarming that immigrant students in the EU are significantly more likely to fail in basic science, reading and maths. We need targeted policies that enable everyone to achieve their full potential."

According to the report, immigrants feel less part of school, have more school-related anxieties, and are less satisfied with their lives overall. However, immigrant students are more likely to be highly motivated to achieve the best possible in school and beyond, the report said.

In Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Sweden, the proportion of low-performing students among migrants and their descendants is particularly high. In these countries, pupils with a migration background are more than twice as likely to fail to achieve basic school skills as pupils without a migration background.

Differences in social and economic origins can explain more than a fifth of the gap between immigrant students and native students in achieving basic skills. Language skills are also crucial: students with a migration background who do not speak the language of the host country at home score around eight percentage points worse in the PISA test than students with a migration background who also communicate in the language of instruction at home.

Immigrants are more likely to attend schools that tend to skip more often and that have a worse classroom climate than non-immigrant students. In addition, immigrants are more likely than local students to be victims of bullying and more likely to feel unfairly treated by teachers, which also contributes to differences in performance and differences in wellbeing. However, many immigrant students also report that their teachers offer them additional support.

Teachers play a key role in ensuring that students integrate into school but also into society as a whole. They should therefore receive more support and training to better respond to increasingly multicultural classes, to prevent bullying and to establish contact with parents of students with a migrant background.

To help non-native students, it is important to acquire language and other skills early on. Targeted language training should be offered to students with a migration background. Language skills surveys not only provide teachers with information about the needs of individual students, they also provide local school authorities with targeted information about which schools have additional financial needs and where further support is needed.

┬╗This study is part of our main topic Migration:



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