Denmark: Immigrant girls do better than boys

Youth from immigrant and refugee families are less educated then youth of Danish background. While it's estimated that 81% of youth age-group in 2005 will complete secondary education (gymnasium, commercial gymnasium and vocational schools), only 64% of immigrants and descendants will do so. This according to new statistics by the education ministry in a report "Educational profile for immigrants and decendants" (Uddannelsesprofil for indvandrere og efterkommere).

It's especially immigrant boys who lag behind, since girls have in an extensive manner hit the books. About 50% stay students and just 30% don't get secondary education, compared with 40% of boys. The government's goal is for 95% of the youth age group to finish secondary education in 2015.

Experience shows that immigrant girls get far with the help of incredible diligence, says Anne Holmen, professor at Denmark's Pedagogical University.

Anne Holmen says that some of these girls are extraordinarily diligent, and one of the things that could help them in further education is to teach them reading strategies, so they don't read everything thoroughly but rather read some thing thoroughly and skim everything else.

In the ten years from 1995 to 2005 the share of young men from immigrant families who got secondary education, rose from 54.8% to 58.5%. In the same period, the share of girl who took secondary education rose from 66.4% to 70.3%.

Anne Holmen says that there are signs of a positive development, and there are things that show that they will get better. There's much more focus on education in Danish as secondary language today, there there was in the past, and there are more attention to how to handle bilingual students from the pedagogical side.

She also sees danger signs in the hard tone in the debate about the multicultural society, because it can bring immigrants and their descendants to lose their self-assurance, which is important in order to complete an education.

Anne Holmen says that the hard tone can kill their motivation, and that self-assurance is necessary to get an education, just as knowledge is. If its' true what many studies say - that bilingual kids feel completely stigmatized - then it discourages them from getting an education.

Source: Berlingske (Danish)

See also: Denmark: 25% of immigrant youth want to emigrate, Denmark: Immigrant's education hurt by bad Danish, Denmark: Immigrants overtake Danes in education , Denmark: Less immigrants dropouts

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