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dc.creatorKovacs Cerović, Tinde
dc.creatorGrbić, Sanja
dc.creatorVesić, Dragan
dc.description.abstractPresently Europe is confronted with the need to cater hundreds of thousands of migrants taking refuge from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and ensure the education of migrant students. The importance of education for refugee communities and migrants is based not only on the Convention of human rights, but also on the fact that schooling is an essential means for ensuring life continuity, job prospects, social integration, peer relationships, self-esteem (Kia-Keating & Ellis, 2007; INEE, 2010). However, literature addressing education of immigrant or refugee children lists a variety of barriers that are hindering education integration and negatively affecting education attainment of these children (Kovacs-Cerovic & Vulic, 2017). The PISA research on disparities between migrant and domicile children directed educational policy analysts’ spotlight on immigrant children already in the early 2000s by showing that students whose parents are immigrants have weaker performance than native students in some countries on PISA, even after controlling for socio-economic background and language (OECD, 2004). The dropout rate of refugee/migrant children in most countries is much higher than for the domicile group (NESSE, 2008; OECD, 2015b). Refugee parents are hampered by stress, trauma, and/or lack of social capital in the new situation (Vlajković, Srna, Kondić, & Popović, 2000). Migrant students are more likely to be placed in groups with lower curricular standards (Bartlett, 2015), or in special education schools (NESSE, 2008); quality of the teaching–learning process can be endangered by oversized classes and lack of equipment (OECD, 2016); teachers’ pedagogical competencies for working in multicultural environments might be low; their expectations for the educational outcomes of refugee/migrant children might also be low (OECD, 2016); differences between home and host country curricula can create a difficulties for refugee/migrant children in a variety of ways (NESSE, 2008; UNHCR, 2015); acquiring the language of instruction is a key challenge for refugee/migrant children (UNHCR, 2015); lack of finances, non-conducive ethos, and poor school organization can create loopholes that have the potential of reversing previous integration efforts (OECD, 2016). Recommendations for overcoming these barriers and pitfalls include measures as language integration, early childhood education and care, parental engagement, limiting concentration in disadvantaged schools, building capacity of schools and teachers, and limiting tracking and grade repetition (OECD, 2015a; Nusche, 2009). While target countries of migration have been addressing many of these recommendations in order to ensure effective education of migrant children and youth, Serbia was until recently only a transit country for migrants aspiring to move on to more developed countries and its education system was unprepared for integration of migrant students. This changed during Autumn 2016, more migrants stay for a longer period in the country and a number of schools started to prepare and accept migrant students from collective refugee centers. Since the education system in Serbia never before faced a similar challenge, nor did it develop the appropriate policy measures widely, the process these schools are piloting is a unique opportunity to observe and register the education change entailed in enrolling migrant students. In this paper we explore the processes of education change at school level accompanying the preparation for and the actual integration of migrant students, with the aim to (a) identify key features of the process of inclusion of migrants based on the perspectives of various actors in the education process; (b) provide an analysis of main strengths and areas for improvement of schools (c) compare characteristics of the inclusion process in schools differing from each other in several relevant aspects and (d) formulate recommendations for other schools in Serbia and in other countries in a similar situation that start including students with a migrant background. Method The paper will present three interconnected case studies of schools that started integrating migrant students in Belgrade during Autumn/Winter 2016/17 – one school being an adult education school catering mainly Roma students, the second is an agricultural upper secondary school and the third is a regular suburban comprehensive G1-G8 school in the vicinity of the asylum center. In order to attain specified research aims, extensive mix-method research design is used, comprising of quantitative and qualitative research procedures. First off, two different questionnaires for quantitative data acquisition are used: one serving to obtain data regarding social distance towards migrant students and the other one being the measure of intercultural sensitivity. Target groups in this first research phase are school principal, teachers and domicile students, giving us coarse, general insights regarding the initial psychosocial capacities of the schools for migrant students’ inclusion. Same measures are obtained from relevant school actors attending similar (according to all important features), but non-migrant schools. In the second (middle) research phase, we apply a set of qualitative research measures entailing: (1) observation of peer interactions, (2) focus groups, and (3) individual interviews, the latter two including all accessible school actors in the role of the participants: from school principal and teachers, to domicile as well as migrant students, to a sample of migrant students’ parents. Conducting these procedures provides us with in-depth understanding of the migrant students’ inclusion process from the vantage point of different stakeholders, expanding the findings procured by quantitative measures. In focus groups and interviews topics for discussion are formulated around inclusion-relevant themes, some of them being: various stakeholders’ expectations; the role of teacher in refugee integration; cultural, school and individual barriers and coping mechanisms; available and scarce recourses and support; typical problems occurring; examples of good practices and experiences; student-migrant and teacher-migrant relations and communications. Phase-two research plan further includes observations of migrant-to-domicile students’ interaction, 25% of refugee students being selected at random and repeatedly observed. The repeated application of the questionnaires at the end of the school semester (in June 2017) equipping us with crude measures of changes in the psychosocial resources domain will conclude the third and final research phase. In addition to the listed data sources, all relevant school documents (information regarding migrant students, school surveys for initial state assessment, integration plans, lesson plans, school reports etc.) are gathered and utilized during the entire research timeframe. Expected Outcomes The study presented in the paper captures education change in status nascendi, and documents the actions conducted in three different pilot schools integrating migrant students as well as their effects on teachers, students and parents. While the data collection and analysis is not yet completed, the first results indicate (a) that the “Roma school” shows the highest level of flexibility and enthusiasm to cater migrant students, as well as best peer relationships, (b) that among all curricular adjustment the schools faced greatest challenges regarding developing an appropriate curriculum for Serbian as the language of instruction, and (c) parental engagement is exceptionally complicated to ensure although parents are living in centers for asylum seekers. All three of these unfolding findings echo the values foregrounded in OECD’s policy recommendations as “must have” measures (OECD, 2015) and reveals the complex layers of difficulties built into the process of implementing effective measures such as language instruction, avoiding segregation, parent engagement, etc. We will discuss implications of findings from the three case studies in the context of education systems and schools working on the integration of migrant students in Serbia and in other countries from the category of previous “transit countries” that start education integration of migrants with less experience and less preparation than the typical target countries of migrants such as Germany or
dc.sourceECER - Reforming Education and the Imperative of Constant Change: Ambivalent roles of policy and educational research, Kopenhagen, Denmark, Aug 22nd – Aug 25thsr
dc.subjectmigrant studentssr
dc.subjectschool integrationsr
dc.subjectmixed methods studysr
dc.titleHow do schools integrate migrant students: Case studies from Serbiasr
dc.description.other9. Kovacs Cerović, T., Grbić, S., & Vesić, D. (2017). How do schools integrate migrant students: Case studies from Serbia. Paper presented at ECER - Reforming Education and the Imperative of Constant Change: Ambivalent roles of policy and educational research (Kopenhagen, Denmark, Aug 22nd – Aug 25th 2017; organizer: EERA - European Educational Research Association). Paper ID: 1633 Abstract retrieved from:

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