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Session Overview
RN10_06a: Education and migration (2)
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Ece Cihan Ertem, Lund University
Location: UP.3.210
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road

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Experiences of migrant children at Primary schools in Paris and Brussels

Federico Zemborain


This presentation is a synopsis of my PhD Dissertation at the Sorbonne University in June 2017.

Migrant children’s schooling is a challenge for all social actors involved — most of the migrant families coming from deprived rural areas in Africa and Asia.

The objective of my research is to compare, on the one hand, migrant children’s attitudes, and, on the other hand, the implementation of programs within primary school educational systems in Paris and Brussels (French community).

I formulated two hypotheses. First, migrant children are active social actors embedded in conflictual situations and their socialisation process in general. Second, their experiences as migrant children challenge the status quo of the existing school system because they reveal the contradictions of educational systems concerning their basic principles. The main result is that there are not many differences between primary schools in Paris and Brussels. The presence of migrant children makes that schools which function according to basic principles such as normalisation, discipline and formation are being challenged. Their presence requires new answers from all adults involved. Difficulties to acknowledge migrants and to work with them, gaps between schooling and extra-schooling culture, efforts to maintain the fiction of equality (égalité), the lack of professionalisation of staff; all generate symptoms such as avoidance, collective and individual boredom, and even fear amongst some adults towards their migrant pupils. In turn, these symptoms tend to increase the phenomenon of segregation in schooling further.

Keywords: migrant children; pupils; primary school education; intercultural education; Paris; Brussels; Europe.

School Segregation and School-Home Proximity among Immigrant-Origin Youths: A Case Study in Bologna, Italy

Federica Santangelo, Giancarlo Gasperoni, Debora Mantovani

Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, Italy

School segregation affecting immigrant-origin students depends on residential segregation but also exists as a separate phenomenon, determined by differences in families’ school choices, in turn reflected in distances between residence and attended schools. Socially disadvantaged students are more likely to attend the nearest school to their home and respect schools’ suggested catchment areas, since school selection depends more on convenience rather than on an evaluation of multiple schools’ pros and cons in a medium/long-term perspective, thus engendering potential educational inequality. This paper explores home-school proximity among students attending lower secondary schools in a major city in Northern Italy (Bologna) and identifies both student/family and school characteristics associated with such proximity differences. After having implemented a geolocation procedure to a data-base supplied by the Italian National Institute for the Evaluation of the Educational System for Schooling and Training (INVALSI) as well as a student-school matching procedure in light of schools’ official catchment basins, we examine the characteristics of students who attend close-to-home vs. distant schools and catchment-mandated vs. other schools as a function of factors including neighbourhood of residence, migration status, socio-economic status, and parental education. Schools are also classified according to the degree with which they exert differential attraction or repulsion among students originating from more vs. less privileged families.

Feeling At Home In School. Migrant Youth’s Narratives On School Belonging In Flemish Secondary Education

Rut Van Caudenberg1,2

1CeMIS, University of Antwerp, Belgium; 2Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

In this paper, we explore the role of school belonging in the educational trajectories of migrant youth in secondary education in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium). The hegemonic imaginary of Flemish education as a system of equal access and opportunity stands in stark contrast with a reality of strong social and ethnic stratification processes in which migrant youth are amongst those most heavily negatively affected. They are highly overrepresented in lower-status educational tracks, experience more grade retention and school and track mobility, and are more likely to leave school early than their native peers. Drawing on in-depth interviews collected over a two-year period of time (2015-2016) within the framework of the European research project, we zoom in on three cases to analyse individual experiences and ‘belonging concerns’ (Murphy and Zirkel, 2015) in a structural context of persisting inequalities in educational opportunities, and show how experiences of exclusion and struggles to claim specific educational spaces as places where they ‘belong’ result in feelings of being an outsider rather than a valued member of the school community. We illustrate how the youngsters’ journeys through secondary education are mostly recounted as journeys of trying to find a ‘good school’ where they feel they can ‘fit in’, and argue that their ‘unstable’ trajectories through Flemish secondary education should be understood as attempts to stay engaged in education after disempowering experiences in previous schools, concluding that it is crucial to think about how schools and educational tracks can become more inclusive, rather than a place for a selected group.

Education as a Migration Pathway? Exploring the Narratives of Non-EU Students Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Denmark

Mette Ginnerskov-Dahlberg

Uppsala University, Sweden

International students have for a long time been largely absent in migration research and have remained “conceptually separated from “real” skilled migrants in the academic literature” (Eskelä 2013: 145). An increasing number of studies, however, suggest considerable overlaps between student mobility and more traditional migration patterns (Raghuram, 2013; Robertson, 2013; Soong, 2014; Valentin, 2012; Wanki and Lietaert, 2018). Especially in a time where it is becoming increasingly difficult for non-EU citizens to enter the European Union (EU), the student category has emerged into one of the few legitimate options for migration to the Union. In this presentation, I will explore the narratives of students coming from countries outside the EU, who are pursuing a master’s degree in Denmark – a more “offbeat destination” destination in the Northern part of Europe. Based on a long-term ethnographic fieldwork and repeated interviews with 25 students, I will especially discuss the extent that the students’ educational mobility is entwined with a wish for more long-term migration (Luthra and Platt 2016). While my findings suggest that the majority of the students – especially those travelling from poorer regions – initially aspire to settle down in Denmark more permanently, such aspirations often change due to their experience of residing abroad and various difficulties of fitting into the host society. For that reason, most of the students return to their home countries. Thus, the analysis also highlights the importance of studying international students’ narratives and experiences for a longer period of time in order to track the changes and continuities that they undergo abroad.

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