Education of migrant children

Education policy responses for the inclusion of migrant children in Europe

by Barbara Janta, Emma Harte

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Research Questions

  1. What are the challenges facing children with a migrant background, and the individual and societal benefits to addressing such challenges?
  2. What are the main challenges facing migrant children in schools across Europe?
  3. What are the main policies relevant to the education of migrant children across the EU?
  4. What are the existing policy options that aim to redress the disparities in educational outcomes between native children and children with a migrant background?

This policy brief investigates policies relevant to the education of migrant children across the EU. It outlines the main challenges facing migrant children in schools across Europe, and the existing policy options that aim to redress the disparities in educational outcomes between native children and children with a migrant background.

Roughly 10 per cent of the EU population were born in a different country from the one in which they reside, five per cent of whom are children under the age of 15. Although the pattern varies by EU Member State, children with a migrant background (either first-, second-, or higher-order-generation migrants) show tend to have lower educational performance and are more likely to leave school early than children from a native background.

Evidence suggests that socio-economic disadvantage can have a more negative effect on educational outcomes than being from a migrant background. It is more likely that a high concentration of children from a socio-economically disadvantaged background, or from families with low educational attainment, has a greater impact on peer outcomes than a high concentration of migrant children. Nonetheless, there are some solutions to the intersectional challenges faced by migrant children in education such as ensuring that migrant students learn the language of instruction and maintain a relationship with their mother tongue, if different. In addition, it could be useful to build relationships between educators and parents, and to dedicate more resources to schools with a high concentration of migrants.

Key Findings

  • Roughly 10 per cent of the EU population were born in a different country from the one in which they reside. Children under the age of 15 constitute five per cent of this group.
  • Although the pattern varies by country, children with a migrant background (either first-, second-, or higher-order-generation migrants) show tendencies towards lower educational performance and are more likely to leave school early than their counterparts from a native background.
  • Some evidence suggests that socio-economic disadvantage can have a more negative impact on educational outcomes than being from a migrant background. It is more likely that a high concentration of children from a socio-economically disadvantaged background, or from families with low educational attainment, has a greater impact on peer outcomes than a high concentration of migrant children.

Recommendation

There are some solutions to the intersectional challenges faced by migrant children in education. For example, it is important to ensure that migrant students learn the language of instruction and maintain a relationship with their mother tongue, if different. In addition, it could be useful to build relationships between educators and parents, and to dedicate more resources to schools with a high concentration of migrants.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion conducted by RAND Europe.

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