Integration of migrants: The education dimension

22-06-2016

Equipping immigrants with the necessary skills to achieve successful integration is a central preoccupation of policy-makers in the EU and beyond. The integration challenges of migrant students in formal educational systems tend to be essentially related to the three main components of education – access, participation and performance. While access to education is legally guaranteed, it remains difficult. Access to quality education is even more problematic. An additional concern for migrant students is staying at school. Indeed, young people with a migrant background are generally more at risk of dropping out without an upper secondary qualification. Results from the OECD-led Programme for International Student Assessment indicate that, in most countries, first-generation immigrant students perform worse than national students, and second-generation immigrant students score somewhere between the two. Yet, the variation in performance across countries suggests that policy has an important role to play in reducing, if not eliminating entirely, the disadvantage that accompanies displacement. Some education systems have demonstrated that it is possible to secure strong learning outcomes through special early learning policies and additional language support. To offer a long-term perspective for migrants through education, the EU follows a twofold approach, providing tools and schemes for their integration in EU countries, and offering support for refugees outside EU borders through specific funds. The former include various policy frameworks, such as increased access to early childhood education and care facilities, the validation of prior learning, and speeding up mechanisms for assessment of capacities and recognition of formal, non-formal and informal learning of arriving migrants. An example of the latter is the Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, aiming to help some 1.5 million refugees in neighbouring countries through the allocation of €140 million to education alone.

Equipping immigrants with the necessary skills to achieve successful integration is a central preoccupation of policy-makers in the EU and beyond. The integration challenges of migrant students in formal educational systems tend to be essentially related to the three main components of education – access, participation and performance. While access to education is legally guaranteed, it remains difficult. Access to quality education is even more problematic. An additional concern for migrant students is staying at school. Indeed, young people with a migrant background are generally more at risk of dropping out without an upper secondary qualification. Results from the OECD-led Programme for International Student Assessment indicate that, in most countries, first-generation immigrant students perform worse than national students, and second-generation immigrant students score somewhere between the two. Yet, the variation in performance across countries suggests that policy has an important role to play in reducing, if not eliminating entirely, the disadvantage that accompanies displacement. Some education systems have demonstrated that it is possible to secure strong learning outcomes through special early learning policies and additional language support. To offer a long-term perspective for migrants through education, the EU follows a twofold approach, providing tools and schemes for their integration in EU countries, and offering support for refugees outside EU borders through specific funds. The former include various policy frameworks, such as increased access to early childhood education and care facilities, the validation of prior learning, and speeding up mechanisms for assessment of capacities and recognition of formal, non-formal and informal learning of arriving migrants. An example of the latter is the Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, aiming to help some 1.5 million refugees in neighbouring countries through the allocation of €140 million to education alone.