Refugee students’ real-life relevant school success: A Parallel study in Finland and Australia

Year: 2016

Author: Kaukko, Mervi, Wilkinson, Jane

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation is based on mixed methods action research study in Finland and Australia, looking at refugee education from the point of view of the learner. The study builds on previous research focusing on educational success of Sudanese young people in Australia (Wilkinson et al 2012) and research with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Finland (Kaukko 2015). The present study aims to shift the focus from a deficit discourse positioning the students automatically as victims of inevitable barriers due to limited literacy and other gaps in education-related skills (Major, Wilkinson et al 2013, 96) by illuminating the resources and resilience of students, as well as the ordinary, positive school stories that exist but are seldom recounted. This paper presents the findings from the qualitative phase of the study, including 25 critical incident interviews with refugee students in Finland and Australia. The interviews focused on incidents which have made the students feel successful in schools, connecting the incidents with significant practices which have been seen as supporting the students’ educational success and school wellbeing in multicultural schools in Finland and Australia. The article takes the refugee students’ own definitions of real-life relevant school success as its starting point and combines them with the theory of practice architectures (Kemmis, Wilkinson et al 2014) to explore the connection between children’s experiences and the social-political, cultural-discursive and material-economic conditions or architectures which shape educational practices, enabling or constraining their success. ReferencesKaukko, M. (2015). Participation in and beyond liminalities: Action research with unaccompanied asylum-seeking girls. Oulu: University of Oulu.Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. Singapore: Springer. Major, J., Wilkinson, J., Langat, K., & Santoro, N. (2013), Sudanese young people of refugee background in rural and regional Australia: social capital and education success. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education 23(3), 95-105.Wilkinson, J., Major, J., Santoro, N., & Langat, K. (2012). What out-of-school resources and practices facilitate African refugee students' educational success in Australian rural and regional settings? Revised Report, Charles Sturt University.