The integration of migrants is one of the main challenges facing Western societies, as their performance is often inferior to that of the native-born. In the field of education, the problem lies in the fact that many education systems reinforce the exclusion and poor performance of students with a migrant background. Concretely, we can observe this phenomenon in Switzerland, where immigrants obtain different results according to the cantons and therefore according to specific educational policies and systems.
Effective ways to reduce these educational inequalities are proposed in the literature, but they are not always accepted by the parents of native students, by teachers, or by other political actors. Consequently, sometimes promising reforms are not necessarily implemented.
The objective of this project is to understand which equal opportunity measures - known to be effective in improving the outcomes of migrants - would be accepted by the general population and especially by native parents as well as teachers, and in which (cantonal) contexts these measures could be implemented. Furthermore, the project analyses the actors and processes responsible for the success or failure of the implementation of specific equal opportunity policies concerning (vulnerable) immigrant students. For example, this project analyses why in Neuchâtel early tracking, which is detrimental to students with an immigrant background was successfully abolished. Conversely, in a popular vote in Geneva on May 15, 2022, such early tacking was maintained to the detriment of immigrant and other vulnerable students.
Scientific and social context
This project uses so-called "mixed methods", i.e., a combination of surveys and survey experiments, interviews and "process tracing" (i.e., tracking the causal process of a reform). These methods fill an important research gap in Switzerland. This topic is important because of the high proportion of migrants and their constant increase, but also because of the importance of this topic in Swiss politics. Switzerland has a decentralized education system. For this reason, it is an appropriate case to study whether the preferences of native citizens and teachers for a particular equal opportunity education policy is influenced by the institutional context, i.e., the different cantonal school systems.
Equal opportunities, public attitudes, educational policy, monitoring the causal process of policy reform, immigration