Why education matters for children of non-EU migrants

Presentation for the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland: Minding the Gap
Seminar on Equal Access to Third Level for Children of Non-EU
Migrants, 13 March 2013
Martha Montero-Sieburth, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Migration and
Ethnic Studies, University of Amsterdam
 United Nations database indicates :
 49% of worldwide migrants are women
 214 million transnationl migrants
 740 million are internal migrants
 Globalization impacts economies,
information sharing, knowledge acquisition,
creates mass migration
Knowledge spheres of education: complex
skills are being demanded, competencies and
sensibilities of global dimensions
Children of migrants according to the SuarezOrozcos (2001) are the fastest growing
segment of youth population in countries the
world over.
 Cities instead of the nation state are now
ever changing environments which leads to
hyperdiversity (Orozco, Darbes, Dias and
Sutin, 2011).
 As an anthropological educator, I study how
migrants access education. I focus on what enables
students to gain an education of value, and also
what constrains them in the process.
 I focus on the opportunity structure that is available
within national educational programs, schools and
classrooms, and the types of obstacles that each
 My work has taken me from:
 Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica,
(indigenous populations and women) ,
 U.S.A. (diverse populations in Boston, and
particularly Latinos)
 Spain (Latin American migrants)
 Netherlands with (1.5 and 2nd generation
youth who are Dutch of Turkish and
Moroccan backgrounds)
 Research in Latin America: Significance of social
class differences in accessing schooling, social
inequalities, and the education of women.
 Robert Levine’s work
 Research in the U. S.: language differences,
differential treatment because of ethnicity,
economic background and legal status influences
educational attainment . Close to 38 million
youth of the 310 million in population are of
migrant origins.
 Luis Moll Funds of Knowledge within Communities
Research in Spain: feminized migration,
differential treatment even though language
and culture are similar, different educational
levels; issues of adaptation, circular migration
and reunification of children
 Aparicio’s work in Madrid: Peruvians, Spaniards,
and Moroccans
 Culturally patterned long distance family
relationships (separation and reunification) and
strident upward mobility by asylum seekers.
Research in the Netherlands with 1.5 and 2nd
generation: offseting the poor academic
achievement of minorities through parental
input, peer tutoring, and mentoring;
polarization of Turkish and Moroccan
students, refugees.
 Crul’s research
 Contextual issues as well as community support
 School to work transitions
 Early childhood education
Educating women and providing access to
both hard and soft science learning pays off
 Early childhood education provides learning
readiness to students
 Curricular restructuring: modular learning
offers opportunities for students to learn at
own pace
 Apprenticeship programs allow students to
progress within specialized fields
 Pipeline programs into specialties: medicine,
law, business allow for experimentation
 Parental outreach and support; parental
education is a strong predictor of children’s
educational attainment
Age at immigration: before 13 and after 13-19
 Institutional structures affects learning
opportunities: age of entry in school, contact
hours, selection of programs and schools, age
students are placed in academic versus career
track, stigma of vocational programs, and
availability of apprenticeship programs (Crul,
 Language proficiency in host language is one
of the major determinants of access
 Effects of life time earnings:
 U.S. figures:earnings from a single high school class would likely pour
a total of $154 billion into the national economy.
 Unless high schools are able to graduate their students at
higher rates, nearly 12 million students will likely drop out
over the next decade, resulting in a loss to the nation of
$1.5 trillion. (Alliance for Excellent Education Brief, 2011).
 College graduates pay 134% more in federal income taxes and
80% in federal, state, and local taxes than high school
graduate (College Board, 2010).
Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2011
The more differentiated the educational
system, then the payoff for the effects of
education on the labor market will be
Education effect is stronger when
credentialization has taken place towards
educational degrees
 Poverty among migrants in host countries is
linked to factors such as language difficulties,
lack of educational credentialing, job access
and both social and educational networks.
 Suarez-Orozco points that « children of migrants
have greater market income poverty rates than
children in native born families. »
Loss of human capital:
Migrants experience positive selection,
meaning higher levels of motivation than
found in countries of origin, and this becomes
greater when the difficulty of immigrating is
greater (Baum and Flores, 2011).
What happens when expectations are
Access issue: no access leaves many future
students in limbo, unavailable to work or to
academically progress, becoming a lost
generation, (ninis generation)
Integration leads towards citizenship, identity,
advancement, and legalization
The 1.5 generation, children of Ireland’s first
 Creation of hybrid identities, multiple identity
Role progression to third level and integration
leads to reducing future conflict and social
 Portes, Fernandez-Kelly and William Haller
note that strong parental figures and cultural
attachment to identity and traditions increase
the success of youth who would otherwise
have low success rates.
Flows of migrants, while decreased at present
given economic recession, what is the impact
of those already in Ireland?
 Children of non-EU migrants
 Youth attempting to go into the third level
 Youth below the age of 16 who are in a limbo
Intergenerational mobility: What will it mean
for the 1.5 and 2nd generation to not have a
 Analysis of country specific context for focusing
on school to work transitions
 Figuring out what the policy trade offs are, for
legalizing students’ current situation, for
citizenshp status, for reducing rates of schooling?
 Developing pro-active stances
Using Suarez-Orozco’s argument:
 « educational system tied to the formation of the
nation state citizens and consumers bonded to
local systems to the neglect of larger global forces
are likely to become obsolete, while those that
proactively engage globalization’s new challenges
are more likely to thrive. » (p.23).

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