14 SES 06 A, Immigrant Families in Schools: Agency, Inclusion & Resistance
In this paper we present some of the main results obtained from the EDUFAM project, research funded by the Spanish National RTD Plan (2014-2016). This research has focused on analysing the features and impact of family education programs aimed at vulnerable groups and offered by 8 Spanish urban primary schools. Family education programs provided by these schools include a wide diversity of issues (e.g., literacy, language courses, dialogical literary gatherings, ITC, and job training, among others). However, one of the features shared by all of them is the involvement of the family members in decision-making regarding its content and organization (Díez, Gatt, & Racionero, 2011; Flecha, 2014). This type of family education is one of the successful educational actions implemented in the Learning Communities project (Flecha & Soler, 2013), initiative from which the selected schools are part off. Specifically, in this paper we focus on two vulnerable groups present in these programs: Roma and Moroccan immigrant families. The research questions that guide this paper are the following: 1) how have Roma and Moroccan families been included in the decision making in relation to family education programs?, and 2) what has been the impact generated by the inclusion of these families in decision making?
A number of intersecting factors perpetuate the situation of exclusion suffered by Roma and immigrant families in Europe (Arabadjieva 2016; Auer, Bonoli & Fossati, 2017). Firstly, despite national divergences, less access to educational opportunities from early childhood and segregation are prevalent for Roma children in Europe (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014). The figures on the socioeconomic exclusion of Roma population illustrate how educational inequalities in childhood contribute to perpetuate inequalities throughout the life cycle. For instance, 90% of Roma adults do not have completed upper secondary education in countries such as Greece, France, Portugal and Romania, and 80% of the Roma population in Europe lives below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2016). In Spain, it should be mentioned that important progresses have been carried out during the last years in relation to the increase of school enrolment rates among Roma children (Fundación Secretariado Gitano, 2013). However, the inequalities suffered by Roma adults continue to be very alarming –more than 72% live in situations of social exclusion (Damonti and Arza, 2014), and 42% are unemployed (Fundación Secretariado Gitano, 2013)–.
Secondly, education and training have been key strategies for achieving one of Europe's policy priorities: the social and economic integration of migrants (De Paola and Brunello 2016). Despite the significant differences between European countries, on average there are notable disparities in educational performance between EU migrants and non-migrants and expected life chances outcomes (Crul, Scheneider and Leslie, 2012). Furthermore, the refugee crisis experienced in recent years has place the role of education as a facilitator of the integration in the European society (Stromquist & Costa, 2017) in the centre of the debate. This debate is particularly relevant in the Spanish context, being one of the European regions with highest rates of educational inequalities between non-migrant and migrant groups regarding educational attainment and early school leaving (Eurostat 2017). In this paper we focus specifically on the case of immigrant families from Morocco, the group with the highest rates of arrival in Spain in recent years (National Institute of Statistics, 2017).
Taking into account this situation, this paper is grounded on previous research that has shown how successful family education programs provided from primary schools can make a difference in promoting the educational and social inclusion of the most disadvantaged communities (De Botton, Girbés, Ruiz & Tellado, 2014, Warren, 2000).
The research reported has been carried out through the application of the communicative methodology (CM) (Gómez, 2014). This paradigm goes beyond the diagnosis of situations of inequality and aims to contribute to actions that generate a positive social impact in relation to these realities. The CM is based on the establishment of an egalitarian dialogue between researchers and people involved in the research. The egalitarian dialogue is achieved through the elimination of the interpretative and epistemological hierarchy that often favours the point of view of the researchers above that of the end-users. Thus, in the CM, knowledge emerges as results of the contrast of the scientific knowledge contributed by the researchers with the knowledge coming from subjects who experience social inequalities. One of the strategies we have implemented to ensure the inclusion of the voices of minority families throughout the research process is the Advisory Council. It has been composed of minority families, representatives of associations and researchers, with the aim of validating the techniques, identifying cultural biases and ensuring the social relevance of the results. The sample has included a total of 8 primary schools located in 5 Spanish regions. The criteria applied for the selection of the schools was: 1) schools that have offered family education programs for at least two years, 2) schools that involve minority families in their educational programs, and 3) schools which presented positive preliminary results regarding the impact of educational programs on minority families. The research has been carried out through the implementation of four techniques during the period covering from 2014 to 2016. These are: questionnaires (N = 101), communicative life stories (N = 13), communicative focus groups (N = 29) and semi-structured interviews with communicative orientation (N = 84). The profiles of participants in the study include family members involved in educational programs, teachers and volunteers who collaborated in the training. It should be noted that in this paper we focus on the case of Roma and Moroccan families, groups with more presence in the analysed programs. The majority of participants are unemployed or inactive (71%) and present low socio-educational levels. The analysis of the qualitative data was performed following the premises of CM. Specifically, we have designed an analysis matrix in which two dimensions -transformative and exclusionary- and five categories have been included. For the analysis of the quantitative data, we have carried out a descriptive statistical analysis using SPSS®.
The results collected through the fieldwork carried out in the 8 schools allowed us to answer the research questions raised. Firstly, through the analysis of the qualitative data extracted from the interviews, communicative focus groups and communicative life stories we have identified strategies that have allowed to include Roma and Moroccan families in the decision making in relation to relevant aspects of family education programs ¬–such as its content, organization or schedules–. Among these, the following stand out: 1) the recognition of the cultural intelligence of the participants; 2) the opening of new dialogical spaces in the school –e.g. assemblies and mixed committees–, and 3) the establishment of an egalitarian dialogue between the school staff and the family members. In relation to the second research question, the contrast of the qualitative data with the quantitative data suggest the inclusion of Roma and Moroccan families in the decision making process has generated a positive impact on the reduction of some barriers that hindered their participation and learning in these programs. In this regard, three benefits have been highlighted: 1) the reduction of racial prejudices by the school staff towards the Roma and Moroccan families; 2) the increased participation of the minority families in the training programs, and 3) the perception of teachers, volunteers and families about the increment in the quality of the programs. Finally, the European dimension of this study should be noted, since the typology of family education reported is currently being transferred to schools located in different European countries. Further research will be necessary to deepen on the impact of this action on the minority families present in these regions.
Arabadjieva, K. (2016). Challenging the school segregation of Roma children in Central and Eastern Europe. The International Journal of Human Rights 20(1), 33-54. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2015.1032266 Auer, D., Bonoli, G., & Fossati, F. (2017). Why do immigrants have longer periods of unemployment? Swiss evidence. International Migration, 55(1), 157-174. doi: 10.1111/imig.12309 Crul, M., Schneider, J. & Lelie F. (Eds. (2012). The European Second Generation Compared. Does the Integration Context Matter?. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Damonti, P., & Arza, J. (2014). Exclusión en la comunidad gitana. Una brecha social que persiste y se agrava. VII Informe sobre exclusión y desarrollo social en España. Fundación Foessa. De Botton, L., Girbés, S., Ruiz, L., & Tellado, I. (2014). Moroccan mothers’ involvement in dialogic literary gatherings in a Catalan urban primary school: Increasing educative interactions and improving learning. Improving Schools, 17(3), 241-249. De Paola, M., & Brunello, G. (2016). Education as a tool for the economic integration of migrants. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Díez, J., Gatt, S., & Racionero, S. (2011). Placing Immigrant and Minority Family and Community Members at the School's Centre: the role of community participation. European Journal of Education, 46(2), 184-196. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3435.2011.01474.x European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2014). Fundamental Rights: Challenges and Achievements. Retrieved from: http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2015/fundamental-rights-challenges-and-achievements-2014 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. (2016). Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey. Roma – Selected findings. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union Flecha, R. (2014). Successful educational actions for inclusion and social cohesion in Europe. Springer. Flecha, R. & Soler, M. (2013). Turning difficulties into possibilities: engaging Roma families and students in school through dialogic learning. Cambridge Journal of Education 21(1): 49-62. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2013.819068 Fundación Secretariado Gitano. (2013). Roma Students in Secondary Education in Spain. A Comparative Study. Madrid: Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte. Gómez, A. (2014). New Developments in Mixed Methods With Vulnerable Groups. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 8(3), 317–320. doi:10.1177/1558689814527879 National Institute of Statistics. (2017). Cifras de Población a 1 de enero de 2017. Estadística de Migraciones 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.ine.es/prensa/cp_2017_p.pdf Stromquist, N. P., & da Costa, R. B. (2017). Popular universities: An alternative vision for lifelong learning in Europe. International Review of Education, 63(5), 725-744. Warren, M. (2005). Communities and schools: A new view of urban education reform. Harvard Educational Review, 75(2), 133-173.
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