Cooperation Between Migrant Parents and Teachers in School: A Resource?

  • Martha Lea
Keywords: Cooperation school/migrant parents, Dialogue teacher/parents, Multicultural schools, School policy for migrant students


Even smaller Western countries receive immigrants from remote areas with poorer living conditions. As stated in the U.N. Child Convention, immigrant children should be given equal opportunities in education. Parents are always interested in their children’s future, and education may gain from stronger cooperation between school and parents. Some research shows that even illiterate parents may support their children’s training in a second language (Cummins, 1986/2001, p. 665). Dialogues between teachers and parents promote mutual
understanding and increase parents’ knowledge of school and society. This might make the parents trust society more, enhance their acculturation and reduce future intergenerational conflicts (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001). A professional teacher needs cultural knowledge and understanding in order to give her/his students an education adapted to their needs. Migrant students especially should feel that there is coherence in their education, because cultural
conflicts sap their energy and may also cause identity problems and lead to lack of motivation. For teachers it is important that education policy provides for equal opportunities. Norway has an inclusive policy concerning immigrant children. The students have language support to a certain degree both in their mother tongue and in Norwegian when needed. Parents and schools are obliged to cooperate in education, and some support is therefore given to
translation. Cooperation is required by conferences and meetings. There are gains for all parties in cooperation between school and migrant parents, but it is difficult to develop mutual cultural understanding for all students and equal opportunities for migrant students. This requires a clear school policy, the means to implement it, and teacher competence. It takes a process to learn how to cooperate and give adequate support. The Norwegian policy shows a will to cooperation, but the implementation of the policy can still be improved. 


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