The education providers in Finland are relatively satisfied with the education they offer for learners with immigrant backgrounds as well as with the smoothness of the application and transitional phases and the sufficiency and appropriateness of the language teaching and other support for learning they provide. Consequently, it can be said that the learners’ ability to cope with their studies – appears in a fairly positive light. However, this is not apparent from the previous studies and reports concerning learning results, for example, according to which the school performance of those with immigrant backgrounds is generally weaker than that of the majority population.
The results are outlined in the evaluation of the accessibility of education and the support during studies provided for learners with immigrant backgrounds, which has recently been published by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. A total of 375 pre-primary and basic education, general upper secondary education and vocational upper secondary education providers participated in the evaluation. Complementary data was also collected from teachers and learners in upper secondary education. In the evaluation report, the results are separately assessed for each educational level according to the number of learners with immigrant backgrounds the education providers had (10 or fewer, 11–50, 51–100 and over 100 learners with immigrant backgrounds) and the language of instruction (Finnish/Swedish) used.
The education providers estimated that they are quite well aware of the support needs of learners with immigrant backgrounds and felt that they have been able to meet these needs reasonably well. An exception in this evaluation focus group were education providers who had 51–100 learners with immigrant backgrounds. These education providers found it considerably more difficult than others to address the learners’ needs.
ONLY A HALF OF THE EDUCATION PROVIDERS HAD A STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE ON MULTICULTURALISM AND MULTILINGUALISM
Nearly a half of the education providers are lacking a vision and strategic perspective on the increasing multiculturalism and multilingualism for which reason their actions appear unsystematic and lacking in goals. The larger the number of learners with immigrant backgrounds the education providers have, the more frequently are goals related to multiculturalism incorporated as part of the strategies. As strategic policies are missing, the learners’ needs are addressed on a case-by-case basis, which is usually considered sufficient when the number of learners is not more that a few dozen.
The visibility of practices supporting cultural and linguistic diversity in the operating culture of educational institutions also provides learners with immigrant backgrounds with a perception of their position in society at large. The competencies of the personnel with regard to cultural diversity, multilingualism and language awareness is in need of systematic development and support of the education steering system. There is apparent need for continuing education. The establishment of language-aware working practices at different educational levels is just taking its first steps, and subject teaching in particular poses a challenge to the promotion of language-awareness. The principal’s role in the promotion of diversity is felt important especially among teachers.
TEACHING OF THE LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION OF VARIOUS SUBJECTS AND SUPPORT IN THE LEARNERS’ OWN LANGUAGE NEEDED
More than half of the education providers who responded to the survey reported that they provide teaching according to the Finnish/Swedish as a second language syllabus, and around half of the learners with immigrant backgrounds at different educational levels attend to the teaching. The teachers are, on the whole, satisfied with the teaching arrangements and facilities and learning materials. Since the goal of the teaching must be the learner’s successful completion of basic and upper secondary education, the teaching of Finnish/Swedish as a second language must strengthen the study of the language of instruction used in different subjects and the collaboration with subject teaching.
The larger the number of learners with immigrant backgrounds, the more likely it is that teaching of the learners’ native language is arranged. The learners’ proficiency in their native language correlates with general school performance and the balanced development of personal identity and self-esteem. Furthermore, support in the learner’s own language for the study of different subjects is particularly needed in cases where the learner’s prior knowledge and skills are deficient or the learner has moved to Finland at the completion stage of basic education.
In addition of securing the necessary resources, securing equal study opportunities for learners with immigrant backgrounds in the future as well also calls for comprehensive development of the educational system and policy both at the level of education providers and at the level of the education steering system.
Report: Maahanmuuttajataustaiset oppijat suomalaisessa koulutusjärjestelmässä – Koulutuksen saavutettavuuden ja opiskelun aikaisen tuen arviointi (Learners with immigrant backgrounds within the Finnish education system – Evaluation on the access to education and the support during studies)Share on Facebook Share on Twitter