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Intercultural dialogue and the inclusion of first-generation immigrant children in Slovenian primary schools

Marijanca Ajša Vižintin (2013) Intercultural dialogue and the inclusion of first-generation immigrant children in Slovenian primary schools. PhD thesis.

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    In the second half of the twentieth century, European communities began to deal with multiculturalism and multilingualism. To this day, the European continent, and individual European countries are still trying to accept diversity as a part of their identity and tradition, as well as within the educational system, which is an important part of society. The lower performance of immigrant children and the recognition of inequity in the school system are just two reasons for the development of intercultural education. Drawing on specific European experiences, research studies, and best practices from Slovenia, we will introduce this pedagogical concept. At the end of the twentieth century, assimilation and multiculturalism as the general approach to immigrants were replaced with integration. Integration is understood as a two-way process, which requires both adjustments and equity of rights for members of all communities: majority, minority, and immigrant communities. We celebrated the year of intercultural dialogue in 2008, but a truly intercultural dialogue is only possible among equal partners. MIPEX (the Migrant Integration Policy Index) can help us to measure if a specific immigration policy has a tendency to integrate or assimilate immigrants. Slovenia ranked eighteenth among the thirty-one participating countries in 2007 and 2011. Among the main seven criteria, the Slovenian education system was rated the worst. On the basis of these results, as well as on reported experiences of multicultural education and personal experiences, we developed our own model of intercultural education. For successful and effective intercultural education that contributes to the inclusion of immigrant children and intercultural dialogue, it is necessary to do the following: 1. understand interculturality as a basic pedagogical principle; 2. develop systematic support for the inclusion of immigrant children; 3. hire teachers with developed intercultural competence; 4. be aware of multicultural society and develop this awareness in all school subjects; 5. develop intercultural dialogue in school; 6. cooperate with (immigrant) parents, and; 7. cooperate with the local community. We also generated suggestions for changes in the Slovenian language curriculum, particularly literature classes. We recommend that we change our monocultural curriculum into a multicultural one, in accordance with Slovenian multicultural society, and encourage intercultural dialogue during literature classes. In this doctoral dissertation, we focus on newcomers that are first-generation immigrants who are not born in Slovenia. Their mother tongue is not Slovenian, but after moving to Slovenia they are included in the Slovenian school system. We used our model of intercultural education to analyze the possibilities under current law and European guidelines for the increased integration of immigrant children. Qualitative research presents challenges to and solutions for the integration of immigrant children in three Slovenian school environments at the end of the first decade of twenty-first century. We conducted semi-structured interviews with educational professionals (principals, primary school teachers of the lower grades, teachers of Slovenian as a second language, school librarians, and school counsellors) as well as with immigrant children and their parents (from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Ukraine, and the United States). We organized workshops in the context of school classes, and analyzed parent’s responses to questionnaires (both immigrants and non-immigrants) and to creative texts that were written after reading a literary text about including an immigrant child into a Slovenian class. This material offered us a variety of perspectives on and solutions to the following subjects: what kind of support do immigrant children receive after being included in the Slovenian school system, how intercultural dialogue is developed at school and in Slovenian language and literature classes. Solutions and their deficiencies were analyzed using our model of intercultural education. We discovered that only two schools offer good examples of best practices and one school (like many other primary schools) is just starting to develop intercultural education. We established that schools that encourage intercultural education also tend to develop other kinds of support for children, their parents and teachers, to encourage cooperation between parents and local organizations, to share their experiences with other schools, and to collaborate on a variety of projects and the ongoing search for innovative solutions. Teachers that support immigrant children through inclusion and the development of intercultural dialogue, tend to develop their own intercultural competence, as well as that of their student and parents, and take part in life-long vocational education.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
    Keywords: integration, inclusion, first generation immigrant children, newcomers, intercultural education, intercultural dialogue, intercultural competence, Slovenian as a second language, mother tongue and culture of immigrant children, imagology, multicultural curriculum for literary classes
    Number of Pages: 501
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    red. prof. dr. Milena Mileva BlažićMentor
    izr. prof. dr. Mirjam Milharčič HladnikComentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=9902409)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 1952
    Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2013 11:11
    Last Modified: 12 Nov 2015 17:34
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/1952

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