Academic journal article Refuge

Moving beyond English as a Requirement to "Fit In": Considering Refugee and Migrant Education in South Australia

Academic journal article Refuge

Moving beyond English as a Requirement to "Fit In": Considering Refugee and Migrant Education in South Australia

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper presents findings from research conducted in two primary schools in South Australia with New Arrivals Programs (NAPs). The paper draws upon two forms of data: questionnaires administered to teachers and ethnographic observations of children at play in the schoolyard. These data are used to examine two aspects of education for refugees and other migrants: (1) the assumption that English language acquisition is central to the "integration" of refugees and other newly arrived migrants (and both that integration is of key importance and that the work of integration must primarily be undertaken by refugees and other migrants, not the broader community); and (2) the impact of power differentials between NAP and non-NAP students in the use of playground spaces. We argue that the education provided to refugee and newly arrived migrant students in NAPs needs to move beyond treating English language acquisition as a requirement to "fit in," and we call for schools with high populations of refugee and migrant students to consider how spatial relations in their schools may be negatively impacting these student populations. Finally, the paper calls for an approach to education that is situated in global contexts of colonization and power relations, and in which the terms for inclusion of NAP students are mutually negotiated, rather than predetermined.

Resume

Cet article presente les resultats de la recherche menee dans deux ecoles primaires en Australie-Meridionale offrant des programmes pour nouveaux arrivants (New Arrivals Programs). La recherche s'appuie sur deux types de donnees : questionnaires administres aux enseignants et observations ethnographiques des enfants au jeu dans la cour d'ecole. Ces donnees sont utilisees pour examiner deux aspects de l'education pour refugies et autres migrants: 1) l'hypothese voulant que l'acquisition de la langue anglaise est au coeur de << l'integration >> des refugies et autres nouveaux arrivants (et a la fois que l'integration est d'une importance capitale et que le travail d'integration doit se faire prioritairement par les refugies et autres migrants, et non l'ensemble de la communaute); 2) l'impact des ecarts de pouvoir entre les nouveaux arrivants et les autres ecoliers dans l'utilisation des espaces de jeux. Les auteurs soutiennent que l'enseignement dispense aux ecoliers refugies et nouvellement arrives dans le cadre des programmes pour nouveaux arrivants doit aller au-dela du traitement de l'acquisition de la langue anglaise comme necessaire a l' << integration >>, et demandent aux ecoles ayant de fortes populations d'ecoliers refugies et migrants d'examiner comment les relations spatiales au sein de l'ecole peuvent avoir un impact negatif sur ces populations. Enfin, les auteurs favorisent une approche educative situee dans les contextes mondiaux de la colonisation et des relations de pouvoir dans laquelle les conditions d'integration des ecoliers nouvellement arrives sont mutuellement negociees, plutot que predeterminees.

Introduction

In Australia in 2009 there was a significant increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving within Australian waters attempting to claim refuge. Whilst this increased movement of people across borders was thought to primarily be the result of much greater numbers of people being displaced from their countries of origin than in previous years, I the Australian media and government suggested instead that people were arriving due to a softening of Australia's border security policies, (2) despite the fact that Australia spends millions of dollars per year on strategies to prevent asylum seekers arriving unexpectedly by boat (even though the number of people arriving this way usually only amounts to several hundred per year). (3) Indeed, largely as a result of government and media rhetoric relating to <

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