Finland: Immigrant mothers miss out on language classes

Finland: Immigrant mothers miss out on language classes

More women immigrants in Finland miss out on language instruction than do their male counterparts. In particular, the opportunities for women who have moved here to join their immigrant husbands to get language instruction are poor.

Lutfeara Hossain moved to Finland from Bangladesh to be with her husband who studied and later started working here. This mother of two, who has been in the country for nearly twenty years, in the spring took part in only her second Finnish language course.

"That time, I don't feel that I'm staying here, my husband was a student, and when he would be finished, I would go back. But in the meantime, my children have grown up, so I found that it's difficult to go back," explains Lutfeara Hossain.

Lutfeara's story is not uncommon. Although the largest group of immigrants are family members, programmes for integration into Finnish society, including language instruction, are only for unemployed job-seekers or those receiving income supports. So, housewives supported by their spouses are just not seen in language classrooms.

Often, it is also a matter of values. For many immigrant women it is a cultural issue. Egëzona Kllokoqi, at student at the University of Rovaniemi who has researched integration among Albanian women, says that home care, child raising and maintaining their own culture may have priority for immigrant mothers.

"If a woman is from a patriarchal culture, the role of assigned to women, that is of raising children, is important to maintain. A woman may feel that she has failed if her children speak Finnish at home and are not adept at their parents' culture. They may think that they are bad mothers," notes Kllokoqi.

Some immigrant mothers may spend a decade or more living here, but isolated from Finnish society. However, a mother's willingness to acclimatize to a new homeland can be crucial for the future of her children.


Source: YLE (English)

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