E.g., 10/27/2016
E.g., 10/27/2016

Enhancing EU Education Policy: Building a Framework to Help Young People of Migrant Background Succeed

Policy Briefs
November 2014

Enhancing EU Education Policy: Building a Framework to Help Young People of Migrant Background Succeed

While many countries in Europe have high-quality, well-established education systems, socioeconomically disadvantaged communities across the continent suffer from inequality of access and lower-quality education. Children from these groups, including children with a migrant background—those who are immigrants themselves or have immigrant parents—tend to underperform in the classroom compared with their native peers. Children from a migrant background (defined here as from countries outside the European Union) have particular educational needs that mainstream education policy does not always meet, including overcoming language barriers and discrimination. Recognizing the importance of education in allowing countries to realize their potential, the European Commission has developed a series of goals in the form of the Education and Training Strategy (ET 2020) to help Member States reduce school dropout and increase rates of tertiary education completion. 

This policy brief is part of a series produced by the SIRIUS Network in collaboration with MPI Europe, which focuses on how policies at the EU level and within individual Member States can better support the education outcomes of young people with a migrant background.


This project is co-funded by the European Union

In 2011, the European Commission launched the SIRIUS Policy Network on the Education of Children and Youngsters with a Migrant Background to study and propose ways that EU countries can address the needs of disadvantaged groups while working to meet the goals outlined in ET 2020. The network facilitates the ability of experts, policymakers, and practitioners to gather and share policy ideas and practices to improve outcomes for these children.

This brief sketches how children with a migrant background face the most urgent needs in Europe's education systems. The overall rate for early school leaving is 33 percent for third-country nationals—more than double the overall 14.1 percent rate within the European Union, for example. Rates of youth unemployment and young people "Not in Education, Employment or Training" (NEET) are significantly higher for first- and second-generation migrants than for their native peers in most EU Member States. The brief examines a number of proposals for ways that local, national, and regional institutions can help educational systems become more community-centered, systemic, and inclusive in order to close the school achievement gap between native and immigrant students.

According to EU data, 8.3 million young people in the EU Member States (3.1 million under age 15 and 5.2 million ages 15-24) were born abroad, while the number of second-generation young adults (ages 15-34) is estimated at more than 4 million.



Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. The Urgent Needs of Children and Youth with a Migrant Background

III. Strategies for Adapting Education Systems

A. Adopting a Community Approach

B. Shifting to a Systemic Strategy

C. From an Integration Framework to an Inclusion Framework

IV. Conclusions