07 SES 08 C, The Role of Religion in Educational Processes
Improving the education of immigrant students has been identified as a policy priority internationally (OECD, 2010) as well as in Ireland (Taguma, Kim, Wurzburg & Kelly, 2009; Smyth, Darmody, McGinity & Byrne 2009). Today, around 25 million persons born in a third country are living in the European Union (EU), representing 5 per cent of its population (Jacobs, 2013). Social transformation in the Republic of Ireland has been particularly notable, as a result of large-scale immigration of non-Irish nationals during a recent period of significant economic growth, otherwise known as the Celtic Tiger. Between 2006 and 2011 the number of non-Irish nationals living in Ireland increased by 30 per cent (CSO, 2012, 33). In 2011, immigrants represented nearly 200 different nationalities (CSO, 2012) and migrant children accounted for about 8 per cent of the total child population in Ireland (Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2012, 29). Over three quarters of newcomer students at primary, and over 70% at post-primary level, have a first language other than English (Smyth, Darmody, McGinity & Byrne, 2009).
The significant population and accompanying social changes have fueled ongoing debates about the compatibility of publicly funded denominational schools (90% of Irish primary schools are Catholic) with growing religious diversity and secularism (Darmody & Smyth, 2013; Faas, Darmody & Sokolowska, 2015). Recent European (Donlevey, Meierkord & Rajania, 2016) and Irish (Heinz & Keane, 2015; Keane & Heinz, 2015) research has also highlighted the mismatch between an increasingly diverse student cohort and consistently homogenous teacher populations.
Within this context of rapid diversification of Irish society which, currently, contrast starkly with a homogenous (White Irish (Settled), Catholic) teaching body (Heinz, 2011, 2013; Keane & Heinz, 2016), this paper discusses school experiences and social integration of immigrant students. In doing so, it draws on the national longitudinal Growing Up in Ireland study (http://www.esri.ie/growing-up-in-ireland/).
Specifically, the paper will address the following research questions:
- To what extent does social engagement in school (with other students and teachers) differ between immigrant and native students once differences in home/family background, school and child characteristics are controlled for? Do these experiences vary by religious background?
- To what extent does social self-image differ between immigrant and native students, all else being equal?
- To what extent does social integration (defined here by liking school, friendships, interactions with teachers, self-reported behaviour in school, experience of bullying) differ between immigrant and native-born Irish children, all else being equal?
Our analyses will pay attention to the potential impact of school types (i.e. denominational or not, disadvantaged status or not) and school ethos/climate on children’s social integration. Ultimately, the research aims to explore factors (student background and school-level) predicting positive/high level of social integration in school.
The field of sociology defines integration as a process of developing a society in which all the social groups share the socioeconomic and cultural life (Lockwood, 1964). Social integration is particularly relevant in the context of immigration (Bosswick & Heckmann, 2008) and settling into the new educational system of the host country is viewed as an integral part of integration of migrant children and their families (Gitlin et al. 2003). Despite migrants’ high educational expectations and optimism for their children, disadvantage occurs, at least in part, due to the devaluation of the human, cultural and linguistic capital of the new arrivals (Darmody, McGinnity & Kingston, 2016).
This paper will explore school experiences and engagement as an important dimension of social integration impacting children’s education and future life opportunities.
Armsden, G. C. & Greenberg, M. T. 1987. The inventory of parent and peer attachment: Relationships to well-being in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 16 (5), 427-454. Bosswick, W. & Heckmann, F. 2006. Social integration of immigrants: Contribution of local and regional authorities. Central Statistics Office. 2012. Population and Migration Estimates: April 2012, Cork: CSO. Darmody, M. & Smyth, E. 2013. Governance and funding of voluntary secondary schools in Ireland. ESRI Research Report Series No 34. Darmody, M., McGinnity, F. & Kingston, G. 2016. The experiences of migrant children in Ireland. In: Nixon, E.; Smyth, E.; Williams, J. & Watson, D. (Eds.) Cherishing all the children equally?. Dublin: Oak Tree Press. Department of Children and Youth Affairs. 2012. A Social Portrait of Children. Donlevy, V., Meierkord, A., & Rajania, 2016. A Study on the Diversity within the Teaching Profession with Particular Focus on Migrant and/or Minority Background Annexes. The European Commission. Faas, D., Darmody, M., & Sokolowska, B. 2016. Religious diversity in primary schools: reflections from the Republic of Ireland. British Journal of Religious Education, 38(1), 83-98. Gitlin, A., Buendia, E., Crosland, K., & Doumbia, F. (2003). The production of margin and center: Welcoming–unwelcoming of immigrant students. American Educational Research Journal, 40(1), 91-122. Heinz, M. 2013. The next generation of teachers: an investigation of second-level student teachers' backgrounds in the Republic of Ireland. Irish Educational Studies, 32(2), 139-156. Jacobs, D. 2013. The Educational Integration of Migrants: What Is the Role of Sending Society Actors and Is There a Transnational Educational Field?, San Domenico di Fiesole (FI) Italy: European University Institute. Keane, E. & Heinz, M. (2016). Excavating an injustice?*: nationality/ies, ethnicity/ies and experiences with diversity of initial teacher education applicants and entrants in Ireland in 2014. European Journal of Teacher Education, 39(4), 507-527. Lockwood, D. 1964. `Social Integration and System Integration' in G. K. Zollschan and H. W. Hirsch (Eds.) Explorations in Social Change. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2010. OECD Reviews of Migrant Education - Closing the Gap for Immigrant Students: Policies, Practice and Performance. Piers, E. V. & Herzberg, D. S. 2007. Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale – Second Edition, Manual. Western Psychological Services, Los Angeles, Ca. Smyth, E., Darmody M., McGinity F. & Byrne, D. 2009. Adapting to Diversity: Irish Schools and Newcomer Students. ESRI: Dublin. Taguma, M., Kim, M., Wurzburg, G., & Kelly, F. (2009). OECD Reviews of Migrant Education.
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