Maiztegui-Oñate, C., Santibáñez-Gruber, R.: Migration and Education: An overview of the Spanish case, 2010

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Immigration to southern European countries has experienced outstanding growth during recent decades. The experience of these countries in the area of international migration is very recent compared to that of Northern European countries. In fact, these countries share a past history as source countries of emigration, mainly to the Americas and the richer European countries such as Switzerland, France or Belgium. However, since 1980, due to a period of economic growth, immigration has become visible and the inflow of foreign population has outnumbered the outflow of natives.

The quantitative increase in migratory flows and the establishment of a permanent presence of immigrant population have woken the awareness of Spanish citizens and institutions to the task of involving themselves in the process of constructing a plural society (Merino & Muñoz, 1998). Especially since the 1990s, the qualitative, not merely quantitative, complexity of managing diversity has called into question the traditional model of society, its organization and the design of proposals for its future. For the educational system the presence of a student immigrant population has meant bringing the discourse of interculturality to the foreground.

In this paper, organised in four sections, we try to analyse the main challenges raised by the immigrant population specifically for the Spanish educational system (Maiztegui & Santibáñez, 2008; Santibáñez & Maiztegui, 2009). We begin with a description of the phenomenon; the presentation of quantitative data as well as of the laws in effect. Logically, the analysis of the data and the norms begins by outlining a very specific reality and pointing to the first difficulties raised by the phenomenon. Next, we introduce in a synthetic way the development that can be seen in the three reports on Spain published so far by the ECRI – European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, which allows us to incorporate the view of an external observer to the debate on the main concerns raised by the presence of immigrant pupils in the educational system, which is the focus of the fourth section.

The Presence of Pupils of Immigrant Origin

The amount of foreign pupils in the Spanish educational system, while not reaching the level of other countries in the region, has undergone substantial growth in the last decade. Although no social reality can be reduced to numbers, the increasing presence of immigrant pupils provides us with a general panorama (Terrén, 2004). First, the statistics allow us to identify two basic characteristics of immigration in the Spanish scholastic system. First of all, we need to remember that this is a very recent phenomenon; traditionally Spain has been a country of emigration, not immigration. Out of the total number of non-university students, foreign pupils represent 8.35% (CIDE, 2007). The second characteristic is the fast growth that it has undergone in the last decade. So, in ten years, the volume of this group in the classrooms has increased approximately tenfold (from 63,044 registered non-university students in the academic year 1996/97 to 608,040 registered students in 2006/07) (CIDE, 2007).

The development of the number of foreign pupils in the Spanish educational system is clearly increasing at all educational levels, although almost half of immigrant pupils are registered in primary education. At the moment, pupils from South America are the most numerous group, reaching 43% of the total, followed by Africa, Eastern Europe (especially Romania), the European Union and the rest of the world. In practically all Autonomous Communities, these proportions remain, with some differences, such as in the Community of Extremadura and the Autonomous Cities of Ceuta and Melilla where African pupils reach a high percentage. In the remaining Autonomous Communities, pupils from South America predominate. A more detailed look allows us to observe variations in the percentage. Thus, while in Navarre pupils from Latin America reach 58.82% of foreign pupils, in Andalusia it hardly exceeds 30% (CIDE, 2007).

Beyond the geographic zones, when analysing countries of origin, data from the [Spanish] Ministry of Education show that Ecuador is the most widely represented country in the Spanish educational system (95,644 students, more than 15%), followed by Morocco (90,955 students, almost 14%). Another widespread area of origin is Eastern European countries since the last academic year analysed (2007) pupils from countries like Rumania, Bulgaria or the Ukraine have increased by more than 30%. Finally, we should remember the considerable presence of students from the European Union, especially from the United Kingdom. This is a long-standing trend. In fact, during the academic year 1996/97 their contribution was the highest. Their proportion has fallen notably (from 30% in 1996/97 to 13% in 2006/07), although their total presence has increased substantially (from 19,170 students to 77,051) (CIDE, 2007).

Furthermore, it is important to remember that the percentage distribution of foreign pupils in the different Autonomous Communities also varies. La Rioja, the Balearics and Madrid show the greatest proportion of foreign pupils, whereas Ceuta, Galicia and Extremadura are those with the lowest percentage of foreign pupils in pre-primary education primary and secondary education As with regard to educational levels, in general, all the Autonomous Communities have a higher percentage of foreign pupils in primary than in pre-primary and secondary, except for the Canary Islands and Cantabria, where the percentage of foreign students in secondary is slightly higher (CIDE, 2007).

The detailed analysis of the data leads us towards the first great challenge presented by this reality in the educational system, that is, the indices of concentration of immigrant pupils in certain schools. The schooling of foreign pupils shows very different characteristics when one considers the type of schools (1), since the increase has essentially taken place in public schools. Indeed, the distribution of foreign pupils, according to the ownership of the school, shows an important quantitative imbalance. At present, the percentage of foreign pupils sent to public school, regardless of the area of origin, exceeds 82% of the total. Thus, out of a total of 608,040 students registered in general and special schooling, only 106,124 are out of the public educational system (CIDE, 2007). Several years ago the Ombudsman highlighted the danger of creating ghetto schools, but the situation has not changed substantially. The public schools see how the arrival of foreign pupils entails the withdrawal of native families, documented in national research and European data (Defensor del Pueblo, 2003; ECRI, 2006, 2007).

In pre-school education, as anticipated by the data previously presented, there is an unequal distribution of foreign children. Cantabria is the only Autonomous Community where less than 65% of matriculation is in public schools. We can also emphasize the case of the Basque Country (71.3%) and, particularly, Madrid: being the community with the second greatest number of foreign students at this educational level, they reach 27.7% matriculation in the private sector. In the opposite sense we emphasize Extremadura, Ceuta and Melilla, all of them with more than 90% of foreign pupils registered in public schools. Yet, it is important to remember that all private schools are not the same. We might say that “three types of private schools exist in our society: on the one hand there are those for middle- and upper-class families, which are selective with regard to income, and which constitute a selective type of school. On the other hand, there are schools which have pupils of lower economic backgrounds. These constitute inclusive schools, which are in not excessively disadvantaged or neutral areas and which host immigrant students in a relatively low proportion. Finally, there are religious schools which, for various reasons (immigrant concentration, flight of native families, free additional services, etc.) welcome students of immigrant origin, ethnic minorities or students with few economic resources” Etxebarria, 2008). This last type of schools [can] host a higher number of immigrant pupils than other public schools in their vicinity and can become schools of reference for the immigrant community. Therefore, their work in this area cannot be diluted in the general statistics. We can observe that families from the European Union are more often sent to foreign-owned private schools, whereas families of South American or North African origin are more often sent to public schools and hardly ever to foreign private schools (MEC, 2005). We may [therefore] ask: What are the causes of this situation?

Scholastic segregation is based on social inequality between different population groups. Thus the Spanish educational network has the danger of socio-educational segregation derived from a system of access and admission to schools almost based on the logic of the market. The main argument that circulates in the mass media and families reproduces the image of immigrant pupils as a group which reduces the level of education and degrades the school by associating it with conflict (Aramburu, 2005). This is a repeated discourse which does not only reach the teaching staff; families of immigrant origin are also aware of this process and they mention it as follows: “I note that there is concern, they say the level of Euskera [the Basque language] may fall. There are few (immigrants), but the parents say so, even though” (Maiztegui & Santibáñez, 2009). From the point of view of public action against scholastic segregation, we must point out that this fight does not only depend on educational policies or on urban public policies, as it sometimes seems. Frequently scholastic segregation is more widespread than urban segregation. Generally, it is assumed that a school with a greater concentration of pupils of low socioeconomic level and foreign origin produces lower academic results. In these cases, families assume a strategy of changing their address, to gain access to another reference school, or simply go to the private sector.

In order to palliate the negative effects of this process, the Commissions of Schooling of Immigrant Pupils have been formed with the aim of favoring a more equitable distribution (Alegre, 2008; Carbonell, 2005). Some Catalan municipalities have had experiences of distributing immigrant pupils among all the schools in the locality. In the short term they have been able to avoid the formation of ghetto schools, but in the long term other disadvantages have appeared, like the resistance of some families as well as logistical and economic problems derived from the high cost of transportation (Carbonell, 2005:45). The ethical problem of moving only the children of immigrant families should not be ignored, for it locates these actions on the borders of legality. This is a complex topic which demands a coordinated and transversal administrative intervention to guarantee the integration of public policies and to go beyond discriminatory treatment towards these families. With this objective, we can usually identify three types of complementary measures. First of all are projects that work on attitudes of racism, deconstructing stereotypes and stimulating contact and dialogue. These are policies of sensitization aimed at eliminating negative stereotypes and attitudes of rejection which favor consensus between the legitimate interest of parents in choosing a school and effective attention to the needs of the weakest groups (Besalú, 2002). Secondly, other measures are required destined to promote the relations and common projects between different communities. On the basis of these strategies we can construct social cohesion, and social confidence generated by participation contributes to the quantity and especially to the quality of the contacts (Terrén, 2004). Thirdly, these measures will not be sufficient if they are not accompanied by policies aimed at harnessing the quality of these schools (Sleeter & Grant, 2003). In this line, we can note the innovating proposals of some Autonomous Communities which offer ambitious measures such as communities of learning, along with the aforementioned initiatives of improvement organized by the schools themselves.

Looking at the global data, without considering the ownership of the school, we see that the foreign pupils registered in primary education include almost 45% of the total of these pupils, amounting to 261,583 students. On the other hand, in secondary education their numerical presence comes to 168,824 students (28.54%) and in pre-primary education  to 104,014 students (17.58%). Finally, in special education, in Programs of Social Guarantee, the Formative Cycles of the FP (Vocational Training) and in Baccalaureate their presence is much smaller, with the percentage varying between the 0.4% and 4.29% (CIDE, 2007). These data bring us closer, as we have said, to another aspect of concern in the educational integration of the pupils of immigrant origin and their increasing presence in courses of social guarantee with numbers that do not seem to be explained by demographic causes.

Diverse works emphasize the difficulties in reaching linguistic competences and the greater possibilities of following a career with lower social prestige (Carbonell, 2005). Thus, in Catalonia, a recent investigation, financed by the Bofill Foundation, noted the increasing diversion of the immigrant population to formative cycles (vocational training). In particularly observable the population of Moroccan origin, which constitutes one of the highest in obligatory secondary education and, at the same time, one of the lowest in higher education (Serra & Palaudàrias, 2008). Also it seems that programs of compensation in secondary levels, which are not oriented to any ethnic group, are actually undergoing a process of ethnification. This situation requires new research which allows us to understand both the causes and the consequences of this situation. The subject suggests several questions to us: Are schools reproducing social differences instead of surpassing them? To what extent do the discourses of interculturality and social cohesion go hand-in-hand with educational practices? These are classic questions in the sociology of education, though not for that any less present and worthy of research. As Frances Carbonell recalls (2005:55) “when different itineraries are constituted, a hierarchized social value is given to each group and education is distributed based on prestige and the social value attributed to each group. For that reason differentiation in rigid homogenous groups is, actually, very contrary to equality of opportunities”.

These topics agree with the results of other research on second generations in Spain, where a very low percentage of pupils of immigrant origin are confident that they will bet to university (23% in the Community of Madrid) (Aparicio, 2004). Diverse factors affect these data. On the one hand, professional expectations play a very outstanding role and significantly affect academic results. Also, the education of the parents can be mentioned, especially that of the mother. In addition, in this group the variable type of work exerts by family members seems to generate a considerable influence and may compensate for the family level of studies. Like in other countries, it seems that, due to the difficulties in recognizing qualifications obtained abroad, many parents do not manage to find employment commensurate with their educational level, so the expectations of the children suffer as a result (Suárez-Orozco & Suárez-Orozco, 2001). In this line, the results of the recent report on social inclusion make it clear that boys and girls who grow up in certain family surroundings (with few educational resources, of immigrant origin, where both parents are not present) have a higher probability of experiencing disadvantageous situations at different times in their educational career, which negatively affect their opportunities for academic progression and increase their risk of leaving school prematurely (Marí-Klose, 2009:256). This panorama refers to extra-curricular realities: socio-economic realities outside the scope of the organizational or didactic practices of schools. They are situations that are not exclusively educational, and which therefore require complex measures. In this way, the possibility for educational policy to improve certain results is reduced (Marí-Klose, 2009:200).

To summarize, a first approach to the reality of the immigrant collective in the scholastic system has led us, inevitably, to extend the merely quantitative description of the phenomenon and to identify the first problematic areas, namely the phenomenon of the concentration and the negative consequences associated with it, as well as the concentration of immigrant pupils in public schools and in training programs with less social recognition.

The Right to Education and its Reflection in the Law

International legislation recognizes, both in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 26) and in the Convention of the United Nations for the Rights of the Child (Art. 28), the universal right to education of all persons without distinction by sex, culture or social origin. The first application of this right would be free and universal access to obligatory education as well as generalized access at other educational levels depending solely on the merits previously obtained. There is no doubt that these conventions are, on many occasions, far from being applied in reality and are relegated to being mere declarations of good intentions. The Eurydice report (2004: 33-34), shows the diversity with which this right is applied depending on the legal situation of the minor, the time of residence in the country of welcome and its condition of asylum plaintiff is applied. The criterion that in principle seems to produce the greatest variations among the 30 countries studied relates to the legal situation, mainly with respect to undocumented children.

The rules in force in the Spanish state, in line with international documents, recognize the right to basic education, which is obligatory and free to all (Art. 27 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978). At the time of publication of the Eurydice Report (2004), Spain was among the countries that, without recognizing this explicitly, allowed access to the educational system regardless of the legal situation of the minor involved, although this access was limited to minors and applied only to obligatory basic education. Nevertheless, this situation has recently been modified by the Sentence of the Constitutional Court of 7 November 2007 (Zarauz, 2008:62), where restrictions to this right were declared unconstitutional. This means that the Constitution would recognize the right to education for all persons, including foreigners, regardless of their administrative situation, their age or the educational level at which they wish to access.

Together with the constitutional recognition of the right to education, the Spanish educational system began its readjustment and adaptation to this and other new social demands, at the beginning of the 1990s with the passing of the LOGSE (Statutory Law 1/1990, of General Arrangement of the Educational System). Since then until the present time, social reality and the complexity of the multi-cultural mosaic have continued to change vertiginously, so that the task of constructing an educational system of quality for all, which serves as a motor for the construction of a new intercultural citizenship, remains the greatest challenge for the future.

The Strategic Plan of Integration and Citizenship 2007-2010 (Ministry of Work and Immigration, 2007), identifies equality, citizenship and interculturality as three basic principles for action and proposes several specific objectives to develop in the area of education, related with the guarantee of access to different levels, the obligatory education and of quality as well as the promotion of an intercultural model where it promotes the formation and the acquisition of competitions in the society of welcome as much as in the one of arrival. On the other hand, the different Autonomous Communities of the Spanish state have been promoting plans for the integration of immigrants, generally in direct relation with their needs and situation in this area, with all of them including education as one of the strategic scopes for the integration of this group.

Education, besides constituting a right in itself, is recognized as a powerful instrument of promoting values that can be used to fight against any type of intolerance or discrimination and to promote values like equality and respect for diversity. Different bodies and laws seek to establish and strengthen the basic pillars for the construction of this new intercultural citizenship. The LOE (Statutory Law of Education of 2006) alludes to a series of principles, among them fairness and the transmission of values, so as to guarantee equality of opportunities, educational inclusion and non-discrimination, as well as personal freedom, responsibility, democratic citizenship, solidarity, tolerance, equality and justice. This line of work is proposed by the European Centre against Racism and Xenophobia (European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia - EUMC) (2006) as well as by the ECRI - European Commission (2007) in the 10th Recommendation against Racism and Intolerance in and through schools, and in the Third Report for Spain (2006) where it promotes the policy:

To ensure compulsory, free and quality education for all. To combat racism and racial discrimination at school. To train the entire teaching staff to work in a multicultural environment. To ensure that all the policies advocated above receive the necessary financial resources and they are regularly monitored to assess their impact and adjust them when necessary.

Access to education should be assured to migrant children just as it should to children who live in their country of origin. According to Rudiger & Spencer (2003) the educational sector is the main field of targeted integration policies in Europe. The Spanish government is aware that diversity is a structural characteristic in educational systems. Consequently, educational policies aim to respond to difficulties in the social and educational integration of immigrant students. On the one hand, the law describes schools as a place of reception, and intercultural discourse is reflected in reports and documents. On the other hand, it seems necessary to make a clearer commitment to putting this model into practice (Garreta, 2006). We can state that theory inspires the laws, orientations and designs. In addition, general documents agree on a common framework, principles and defined strategic aims. All of them recognize cultural diversity and mention the word intercultural. They have also taken steps to address segregation, dropout rates and underachievement. In this context the project aims to promote programs and events for tolerance, dialogue and solidarity between people of different origins. Now, it seems necessary to analyze and evaluate the application of those principles and strategies. The next section includes the main recommendations made by ECRI to face up to this situation.

ECRI - European Commission against Racism and Intolerance as an External Observer

From a very wide definition of racism and racial discrimination, the ECRI - European Commission against Racism and Intolerance - monitors the situation and publishes country-reports, every two or three years. In this sense, the ECRI is elevated as a privileged observer of the situation of the immigrant collective and minorities in the countries of the Council of Europe, so that it contributes a longitudinal vision of the intervention (2).

The first report, published at the end of the 1990s (ECRI, 1999), is brief and begins to detect an incipient rise in the immigrant population. According to this situation, the ECRI recommends developing civic and human rights education in Spain. The structure of the ECRI's second report shows a more complex approach to dealing with this matter at schools (ECRI, 2003). It focuses on access to different services, among which education is included, and the main challenges schools should face up to. The ECRI proposes to introduce these topics as an independent subject both at primary and secondary level. Another point, closely linked with the former recommendation, concerns the training of teachers and the implementation of intercultural education practices.

ECRI stresses the importance of teaching Spanish as second language to immigrant children aiming at access to school. This recommendation implies preparing teachers for it and specific educational materials as well. Eurydice (2004) and EUMC (2004) reinforce this idea. One of the main problems involved in the integration of immigrant minors into the education system is their lack of knowledge of the language of the host country. Language is considered a basic communication tool without which integration and participation in the school system are difficult. Due to this, upon arrival in the host country, immigrants are generally provided with intensive teaching of the second language (Eurydice, 2004). Unfortunately, despite the importance of the issue, several countries, among them Spain, report a lack of, or insufficient, programs (EUMC, 2004). Besides this, ECRI proposes to promote mother tongue education for foreign children. For example, in Spain, public schools only provided this to Portuguese and Moroccan children.

In the third ECRI report (2006), Spain has already implemented different measures in order to raise the awareness of general population, creating mediation services or a resources center, and to train specific population, teachers and students as well, in intercultural issues introducing an independent subject at school on Human Rights. Besides this, ECRI proposes to Spain some specific measures to implement within their schools.

Summing up, we can find some common clues in these recommendations, which might guide educational administration policies:

To ensure a more even distribution of foreign children who need special support. To pay attention to the phenomenon of concentration in some centres and educational itineraries. To strength efforts in specific programs for teaching Spanish as a Second Language while trying to expand the mother tongue language of immigrant population. To raise awareness and education in Human Rights and Civic Education addressing the principle of non-discrimination and respecting difference where it was formerly included. To provide teachers with training in Human Rights and Intercultural Education: Introducing a compulsory subject in training curriculum and creating data bank of good practices.

Main Challenges for Spanish Educational System

From this perspective, the majority of the recommendations formulated in the most recent ECRI report, locates the challenges in intermediate levels of fairness, referring to real access and non-discriminatory treatment, so as to allow peaceful coexistence (Maiztegui & Santibáñez, 2008). That is to say, it would not only be necessary to guarantee the right to education but also, as Gundara recalls (2006), to adopt a very specific type of education based on understanding, tolerance and friendship between diverse nations, religions and groups (Article 26.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948). Below we consider both perspectives.

First, considering access, important advances can be observed in Spain analyzed from a legal approach. Together with this legal advance, some of the Autonomous Communities are contemplating measures that seek to guarantee access to the educational system by publishing multilingual information guides to the educational process, having translators in the incorporation phase, creating permanent educational commissions which allow the effective incorporation of pupils throughout the school year, evaluating the educational and linguistic needs of each child from the start to facilitate the development of an individual plan and developing plans of welcome in the schools.

Current ECRI reports point out that the next challenge will be to guarantee true access to all pupils, eliminating any covert selection processes that might [still] exist. When the figures for actual access are reviewed, the percentage of students from different social contexts that reach each of the educational levels is normally used as an indicator, as we have previously mentioned. For example, data on schooling detect the over-representation of this group in programs of special education and vocational itineraries and, conversely, their low presence at higher education and university levels (EUMC, 2004; Eurydice, 2004). Geographical concentration is another indicator to study access. ECRI calls attention to this situation because segregation in education represents a barrier to the development of diversity and cross-community interaction at local level. In fact, it cannot be denied that there is a risk of segregating different groups, forming ‘ghetto’ schools and preventing children from disadvantaged backgrounds from accessing quality education (Defensor del Pueblo, 2003; Pollak, 2008). When analyzing some of the measures in this direction proposed by the plans of integration of the Autonomous Communities we see that they seek to promote participation of the families in the organs of the school and in extra-curricular activities, besides facilitating aid to organizations to provide the schools with new figures like social, educational and mediating assistants. Conscious of the importance of the immigrant collective being representative in each school, their distribution on the map of schools is studied considering the presence of pupils of the same nationality in the schools while simultaneously avoiding excessive percentages that bring about the perception of a ghetto.

The majority of educational systems, regardless of the model of integration that the country has adopted, seek to promote intensive programs of second language learning. Since the first country-report, ECRI emphasises the need for these countries to strengthen efforts in the field of second language training parallel to reinforcing the mother tongue. In this sense, the educational system has developed new curricular strategies to take care of diversity, such as for example, classes of educational reinforcement, groups of curricular diversification, programs of compensatory education, and teaching in smaller groups (Alegre, 2008; Torres, 2008). Also, progressive models recommended maintaining the language and culture of the country of origin, even implanting bilingual programs/additive bilingualism incorporating the mother tongue to facilitate access to content and activities, and respecting their own identity and diversity (Tankersley, 2006). This proposal seeks to overcome the risk of intervention programs that separate either classes or pupils' activities based on their mastery of the language of teaching. In this way, the incorporation of the maternal language and prior knowledge act as factors of educational success (Marzano, Gaddy & Dean, 2000). Nevertheless, this interesting proposal encounters difficulties in its development, mainly in schools where the diversity of pupils is very high and the teaching staff does not know all the reference languages of the class. Concerning the promotion of mother tongue, signs are seen of an opening towards more advanced models. However, in Spain, it is a slow process since linguistic policies are still more linked to questions of identity and maintenance of links with the society of origin than an intercultural policy that values diversity (Mijares, 2009). In Spanish territory, the different official languages outline a more complex panorama as well. The arrival of immigrant pupils challenges the educational community to guarantee the acquisition of both official languages together with the development and promotion of the maternal languages.

As mentioned previously, a second package of indications talks about non-discriminatory treatment. Among the recommendations are the training of teaching staff, the detection of situations of discrimination as well as the inclusion of matters related to human rights and citizenship.

Repeatedly, ECRI country-reports call for the training of teachers. To raise awareness seems to be the first element that can drive change towards an intercultural school. Most teachers who work closely with immigrant students show positive attitudes, especially if they chose this work (Maiztegui & Santibáñez, 2009; Terrén, 2004). However, teachers do not acknowledge the situation of domination. Sometimes they manifest their frustration and the same stereotypes as the rest of the population. Teachers’ attitudes vary according the different socio-economic and educational backgrounds of immigrant children. In Spain, children from Romania and Eastern European countries are described as intelligent and well-motivated, giving no problems of integration (Terrén, 2004). Students of South American origin are supposed to have more adaptation problems. Although they speak Spanish, teachers think that most of them are not motivated, they come with weak academic levels and this situation affects their future projects.

Besides, there should be a strong commitment to non-discrimination, equality and social cohesion and to ensuring that all are able to participate in the social field. According to Pollak's research (2008) during the 2006/07 academic year, the systematic recording of racist incidents and discriminatory practices in the field of education is still not a common approach in the European Union. Spain is among those countries for which there are no data available. It is necessary at this point, to consider results from recent research in which verbal racism seemed to be a common experience among ethnic minority groups in Southern countries (Araujo, 2006; Navarro, Troncoso, González & Gómez, 2008; Maiztegui & Santibáñez, 2009). Racism is an important feature in the children’s lives. Children are keenly aware of their reception. If negative stereotypes prevail, self-handicapping increases (Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2001:95). In other words, in a climate of obstacles and hostilities, most children do not continue to invest in schools but in their sense of self. Often not even parents can compensate for the distorted reflections that children encounter in daily life due to some children's belief that their parents are not in touch with reality. It seems that children who are able to maintain a sense of hope and pride can mobilise themselves for the work of day-to-day coping. Hope is essential for attending school and for a positive outcome. The trouble is that when immigrant encounters a negative mirror, their perceptions become more threatening. The concept of the ethos of reception developed by Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco (2001) explains how “this climate is shaped by the general attitude and beliefs held by members of the new society about immigration and immigrants” (p.36). This social climate or ethos is often difficult to measure, but it is an essential factor in everyday experience and it affects the perceptions, identities and behaviors of children.

The education in human rights and citizenship recommended by the Council of Europe and the ECRI, seeks to promote a positive ethos of reception, as well as a proactive attitude against racism (Osler, 2000). Spain has implemented a specific matter. The issue of citizenship curriculum should be dealt with a deeper debate on organization aspects, emphasizing practical topics. Building up citizenship requires individuals to imagine themselves in a community and every community is constituted by a multiplicity of narratives. Therefore, sharing citizenship means seeing and sharing our own narratives with those of others (Krastborn, Jacott & Ocel, 2008). In this context, the basic challenge is to reconcile the recognition of multiple ways of life, experiences and aspirations with the egalitarian structure of citizenship (Bauböck & Rundell, 1998).

To conclude, countries, such as Spain, where migration is a very recent phenomenon, are located on a progressive path of readjustment, aware of the importance of the phenomenon, the difficulties that arise and the long path that is still to be followed. We cannot forget that as in other processes of change, thinking seems to go in advance of actions. In 2003, Margarita Bartolomé (2003) challenged us to find practical routes for our thoughts and reminded us that still, what we do is far behind what we think. While the current debate defends a model that is intercultural, equitable and anti-racist, practices are still close to the assimilationist paradigm. Recently, Gorski (2006:168) retakes this question affirming that personal and emotional or mental changes are not directly translated into policies and practices. Resolving these contradictions means necessarily incorporating into the debate, not only measures of intervention at personal level, but measures of structural change that permit the participation of all based on equality, in the making of key decisions.


(1) In Spain, there are three types of schools: private schools, public schools, and privately owned and grant aided by the educational administration of the Autonomous Community.

(2) Other organizations exist whose information completes and reinforces the information and recommendations of the ECRI, like those published by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) (previously EUMC-European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia) (EUMC, 2004) and the Eurydice reports (2004, 2009). Although these information are specific to the educational scope, they take a general approach to the European situation and are not always specific by country, as well as the time passed from their publication until the present, a factor that has been previously mentioned, is crucial, all of which factors make us give priority to the information of the ECRI. Finally, it is also important to mention the study PISA - for Programme International Student Assessment developed by the OECD (2006), an organization of which Spain is a member. Nevertheless, its condition as country of recent immigration leads it to have been excluded from the specific research with the immigrant collective for want of a representative sample.


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Concepción MAIZTEGUI-OÑATE, lecturer in the Department of Education and Director of the Department of Social Pedagogy and Diversity, at the University of Deusto. Rosa SANTIBÁÑEZ-GRUBER, Titular Professor in the Department of Education at the University of Deusto. Both belong to the research unit on International Migrations. Integration and Social Cohesion and to the network of excellence IMISCOE. Joint publications include, among the most recent in English, Immigrant Access to Education. A comparative perspective. Guest Editors in Intercultural Education. Special Issue 5 (2008); Intercultural competence and teacher training (2007); The school, a bridge to integration for young immigrants: Encouraging success (2006); Equitable education and immigrant integration (2005); Immigration, ethnic minority and school failure (2005); The condition of immigrant and ethnic minority in school drop-out (2005).


Concepción Maiztegui:

Rosa Santibáñez:,

University of Deusto, Aptdo. 1. 48080 Bilbao, Spain