Enhancing EU education policy: MPI Europe, SIRIUS Network briefs explore improvements for migrant children
BRUSSELS — Whilst European countries have well-established education systems, children with a migrant background are disproportionately among the underperformers and face a number of critical education needs that mainstream education policy does not currently meet.
The first in a series of six policy briefs prepared for the SIRIUS Policy Network on the education of children and youngsters with a migrant background, which is co-financed by the European Union, provides an overview of how education policies can be improved for children of migrant background (immigrants from countries outside of the European Union or the children of such immigrants).
Socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, including those of migrant background, experience inequality of access and a lower quality of education across Europe, as the first brief explores. In Enhancing EU education policy: Building a framework to help young people of migrant background succeed, Dr. Miquel Àngel Essomba Gelabert of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) 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 per cent for third-country nationals — more than double the overall 14.1 per cent 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.
‘There are many reasons why children with an immigrant background fall behind, but two in particular stand out. First, the language of instruction at schools may not be familiar to children who speak another language at home. And second, a significantly larger proportion of immigrant children belong to lower socioeconomic groups than their native peers across Europe’, Dr. Essomba writes.
The brief examines a number of proposals for ways that local, national and regional institutions can help educational systems become more community-centred, 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.
‘Education must guarantee that migrants from third countries do not become permanently marginalised minorities, but full citizens’, said Elizabeth Collett, director of MPI Europe, which is a collaborative partner in the SIRIUS network and which was responsible for the editing and production of this policy brief series.
The European Union’s most recent growth and competitiveness strategy, EU 2020, sets ambitious targets for the improvement of educational results: reducing school dropout rates to below 10 per cent, and ensuring that at least 40 per cent of EU citizens ages 30 to 34 have completed tertiary education by 2020. In order to achieve these goals, the European Commission has developed an Education and Training Strategy (ET 2020). Through the SIRIUS network, launched by the European Commission in 2011, EU institutions can better understand how countries across Europe are progressing toward ET 2020 goals.
The brief can be read at: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/enhancing-eu-education-policy-building-framework-help-young-people-migrant-background or www.sirius-migrationeducation.org/ (the latter with translations into French, German and Spanish).
The next brief in the series, focused on mentoring programs for students, will be published Thursday.
Migration Policy Institute Europe, which is based in Brussels, provides authoritative research and practical policy design to governmental and non-governmental stakeholders who seek more effective management of immigration, immigrant integration and asylum systems, as well as better outcomes for newcomers, families of immigrant background and receiving communities throughout Europe. For more on its work, visit www.mpieurope.org.
SIRIUS is a European Policy Network on the education of children and young people with a migrant background. The project runs over a three-year period (2012-14) and is funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission. Network partners include research centres, universities, civil-society organisations and public entities. SIRIUS integrates existing studies and reports on migrant education, updates data and hopes to transform the policy implementation on migration and education throughout the European Union. For more, visit www.sirius-migrationeducation.org.