On the move: Immigration matters.

Immigration is a phenomenon which have existed through history of humanity and in all the countries of the world.But, are we really taking care about immigration’s impact? As schools are a little example of what society is, it could be said that this phenomenon is also remarkable in education.  Diversity should not have to be taken as something negative for education; it does not affect the personal achievement and prepares for the more and more varied society students will have to face. In fact, the education of immigrant children is not only a smart investment; as an expression of the call to love our neighbors ad ourselves, it is also a moral imperative.  The issues of immigration and immigration enforcement affect the children in immigrant families and the public schools that serve those children

Let’s try to open our minds and keep in mind what BUTLER YEATS, WILLIAM said: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire”.

 Immigration and Education. Why does immigration matter?

Even though many people think immigrants are handicaps for students’ personal achievement it is proved that they are not. A research made in 2010 by Lourdes Gallardo ( points out that results have nothing to do with immigrants, but with parents educational composition .

Students’ background is more relevant than people they share classroom with.  Children will tend to copy what they see at home more than what their peers do in the educational aspect, so that is why it is important parents to show interest towards school and be a model to follow.

Another mistaken thought is the fact that immigrant people do not have the same educational expectations as native people do. It is true foreign people tend to work younger as they need money, that is the main reason why they moved here. It is the key cause of foreigners being the major number in non-assistant studies and this numbers has significantly increased since 2005. However, it does not mean their expectations are lower; FRANCESCH, D. (2008) No racismo y No sexismo. Orientación profesional. “El porcentaje de españoles e inmigrantes que quieren continuar estudios es similar”. In the text with that same name it is mentioned that the 70% of students want to do Superior Studies, and the 69% want to go to University. In the last case, it is even superior the amount of Latin – Americans and Caribbean students 78.4% attending University, comparing to the Spanish rate 67.9% and the Non Communitarian Europeans 60%.

On the other hand, professional training is more and more common. The 17.7% of Spanish students prefer medium degrees (15.7% superiors) and South American students’ percentage rises to an 18.3% in medium degrees (13.5% in superiors).

As Coelho, Elizabeth mentioned in an interview by HIK HASI in 2007, a multilingual and multicultural school provides society with many advantages. She said education is not filling a child with contents, but preparing him/her for the future. In a more and more diverse society students need to be even more prepared to that diversity and as we pointed out above, having foreign students in class does not decrease the personal achievement. Both Coelho and Barquín, Amelia (A teacher from the University of Mondragon) state that diversity is a wealth, a treasure; it will make pupils have a more positive point of view towards other cultures and they will learn to cooperate, work with others and respect each other. This way, pupils coming from other countries will have a better self-esteem, feeling they are part of a whole. All people have something to teach and all people have something to learn from others.

She gives evidence of the positive aspect and proposes a method translated into Basque as “Aldamioen Eredua” COELHO, E (2007) Hik Hasi. The aim is to scaffold children’s knowledge; the teacher will be helping them build a personal solid basis, so that when the teacher is not there, it still maintains and does not fall down. That is what Coelho proposes to do with education, help each student at his or her own rhythm, and taking into account each need. They will, by themselves, create that strong building that they could use the rest of their lives.

Apart from ghettos to form and marginalization to develop, studying in an A or B model does not make the students fully competent in the Basque language; neither does in the case of native people, but we could admit language is a quick way for integration and in many areas in the Basque Country it would be really helpful. It is important that we start working TOGETHER.

References and links:

Observatorios de Asuntos Sociales: estudios de inmigrantes en EH

Research made by Lourdes Gallardo –

Centro Europeo de Estudios sobre Flujos Migratorios:

Programa operativo del Fondo Social Europeo 2007-2013 País Vasco


(en el marco del Plan Vasco de Inmigración de 9 de diciembre de 2003)

Observatorio del Gobierno Vasco:

DEIA – 17/02/2010



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