Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Donner Un Sens Au Desavantage Ou a L'avantage Des Eleves Immigrants Au Canada En Matiere De Reussite Scolaire

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Donner Un Sens Au Desavantage Ou a L'avantage Des Eleves Immigrants Au Canada En Matiere De Reussite Scolaire

Article excerpt

Making Sense of the Performance (Dis)advantage for Immigrant Students Across Canada

Introduction

International migration is a feature that has characterized global mobility for centuries and indeed millennia, and has increasingly become a priority for nation states around the world. Governments are seeking to develop and implement the most effective policies to successfully manage diversity and integrate immigrant students so they can contribute to the economic prosperity and sociocultural fabric of their society. However, education is not a mere promoter of economic growth with instrumental value; rather, it is "an essential part of cultural development, with intrinsic value" (UNESCO, 1996, p. 14). Given the ethnic diversity across Canada, as well as a continuing influx of immigrants, including refugees, schools play a critical role to the integration of immigrants within this physically large country. By integration, we refer to structural and sociocultural dimensions of integration. Structural integration considers immigrants' prospects in the labour market, housing, education, and political and citizenship rights (Heckmann, 2005), while sociocultural integration encompasses immigrants' active participation in the social and cultural lives of their communities and affiliation with Canadian identity (King & Skeldon, 2010). In this regard, for example, it is crucial that immigrant children have jobs and income equivalent to their educational attainment as adults and contribute to the sociocultural fabric of their communities. The role of schools is to support this process and integrate immigrant children through education.

Overall, Canada possesses one of the highest immigrant student populations as a percentage of the total population (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD], 2012c). Immigrant groups in Canada are more diverse than ever before with respect to their countries of origin, socioeconomic background, and the channels through which they or their parents have entered Canada. These migrants include first-generation immigrants, traditionally classified as individuals who were born in another country and relocated to Canada, and second-generation immigrants, the children of first-generation immigrants. Certainly, this increased diversity is due to the significant numbers of newly arrived immigrants who are settling in Canada as refugees from Middle Eastern countries. For example, more than 40,000 Syrian refugees were recently resettled across Canada (see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/welcome/) between November 2015 and May 2017. Given this drastic increase in the numbers and backgrounds of recent immigrants, among which children constitute a considerable share, the challenge of migrant integration has become a timely and pressing concern for provincial policymakers. Even for Canada, a country of immigration that has been occupied with the question of integrating its diverse population for decades, the increase in the proportion of immigrant students and the diversification among the new arrivals pose new challenges. In particular, the scaling up and management of targeted policies and services provided to immigrant populations across the country is an area requiring considerable financial and human resources.

The challenges posed by international migration and the integration of various immigrant groups cuts across all age demographics, including K-12 school-aged children. According to the latest data published in the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX; 2015), only Luxembourg, at 46 percent, has a higher share of the percentage of first- and second-generation students than Canada, which has 29.6 percent (Huddleston, Bilgili, Joki, & Vankova, 2015). Perhaps the most disconcerting international trend from the MIPEX report was that education emerged as the greatest weakness in integration policies in most countries. In particular, the majority of immigrant pupils in significant parts of the world have little extra support to catch up if they're behind, quickly learn the language, and learn some of the rules of the language that they use at home. …

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