Immigrants in education: A new challenge
One of the key for the successful integration of immigrants into Icelandic society lies within the schools. Until a decade ago having children from a foreign background in the school system was a rather unfamiliar phenomenon. In the year 2000, according to Hagstofa.is, there were 30 foreign children under 18 years old living in Akureyri; this number has tripled and in 2014 there are 87 foreign children living in town.
This drastic change has not been addressed properly yet. Teachers are inadequately trained to handle this new challenge, and the institutions in charge of handling those changes, like the Ministry of education, skóladeild, and the schools themselves have insufficient resources, no proper funding and training. Research on immigrants’ children has so far shown that these children are more likely to drop out of school, succeed less well and have problems.
The town of Akureyri, with its University forming teachers, has a possibility to be on the forefront of changing this cycle. The aim of the research is to understand the needs of the immigrants’ children and the local educational institutions in order to confront more effectively the new challenges faced by the schools.
The project is funded by KEA and the Development Fund for Immigration Issues (Icelandic Ministry of Welfare).
Markus Meckl, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Akureyri, Iceland
Hermína Gunnþórsdóttir, Associate Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Akureyri, Iceland.
Stéphanie Barillé, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Akureyri, Iceland.