European Interest

Europe’s schools failing immigrant students

Flickr/European Parliament/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“The European Commission strives to provide everyone in Europe with real opportunities," ,” said Commissioner Tibor Navracsics.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on March 19 published a report confirming the need to promote inclusive education and common values.

Mandated by the European Commission, the report’s main findings highlight that immigrant students are struggling to integrate in schools in many EU member states, often due to lower socio-economic status and language barriers. For example, in the EU overall, 72.3% of native students achieve baseline academic proficiency, while this is only the case for 54.3% of immigrant students.

“This report shows that we are on the right track when promoting active citizenship, common values and high quality, inclusive education,” said Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics. “The European Commission strives to provide everyone in Europe with real opportunities. This is why our first package of measures to build a European Education Area presented in January included a proposal on promoting inclusive education and common values.”

Navracsics also announced that he will present a second package of initiatives including proposals to promote quality in early childhood education and care and in language learning. “All these initiatives can help pupils and students overcome disadvantages linked to an immigrant background,” he said.

According to the report, students with an immigrant background often lack a sense of belonging to their school community and are more likely to be affected by schoolwork-related anxiety. While two thirds (66.5%) of native students experience a sense of belonging at school, this is only the case for 58.6% of first generation immigrant students.

At the same time, however, they tend to show higher aspirations to succeed than native students. While 57.55% of native students have high aspirations to achieve, this is true for almost two thirds (65.8%) of immigrant students.

The report also underlines the significant role education systems, schools and teachers can play in helping immigrant students integrate into their communities.

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