AFTER Aida Hadzialic’s parents fled war-torn Bosnia for Sweden in the early 1990s, they put their five-year-old daughter in a school full of native Swedes and made sure she studied hard to get ahead. It worked. Today Ms Hadzialic, 27, is Sweden’s minister for upper secondary education. Like her counterparts across Europe, she faces a new challenge: ensuring that a fresh wave of refugee children can integrate as successfully as she did.
Even before this year’s surge, western Europe had lots of immigrant students. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the proportion of 15-year-old schoolchildren in Spain who are foreign-born rose from 3% to 8% from 2003 to 2012 (though in Germany it fell by about the same amount). The new wave of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere has redoubled the strains on school systems.
In the countries accepting the most refugees—Sweden and Germany—lack of space is not a problem. Before the migrant surge, both countries faced declining numbers of pupils because of low birth rates. In Sweden the number of children in ninth grade fell from 120,000 in 2005 to 96,000 in 2015. “We have places for a hundred more pupils,” says Henrik Ljungqvist, the headmaster of Ronna School in Sodertalje, a city near Stockholm. (His school admits two to four new refugee pupils a week.) In Germany, without the new migrants, the number of students was projected to decline by 10% over the next decade, says Ludger Woessmann of the University of Munich.
The biggest problem for education systems is that refugee children tend to be concentrated together. Many attend schools near refugee centres or in immigrant neighbourhoods. In Norway, Denmark and Sweden about 70% go to schools where at least half of the pupils are immigrants. This means they are partially segregated and less likely to learn the local language.
Pour lire la suite : http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21684830-integrating-migrants-schools-will-not-be-easy-learning-hard-way