New Kiwis (former refugees) settle well, but how well do they integrate?
As we said on this site following one of our refugee graduations in July this year, 'e-Learning’s work with the refugee families is very different from the usual training régime
We often hear the success stories and we will tell some of those stories during the course of 2020.
It appears that in New Zealand we do an excellent job of settling refugee families.
Fortunately, through the Refugee Connect Program that is funded by the Ministry of Education, e-learning Porirua took the initiative and has succeeded in turning the immediate needs of the refugees into learning opportunities. The vehicle for that success is always the collaborative relationships with schools, families, and the wider community in addition to the full awareness of the cultural dimensions and the differences between cultures or the blind spots, if you like. The problem is that this is only for a very small number of
The government and its
What is the problem then?
The problem is that, after three years and more, too many of the refugees still cannot hold a conversation, and struggle to communicate with the new society. All those families have something in common; they come from a collectivistic culture which is completely different from NZ culture, which is an individualistic culture. Families who come from a collectivistic culture background have a different way of perceiving knowledge. If you ask any ESOL teacher why refugees don’t show the required progress, you may get one of the following answers if not all of them:
- they tend to speak their mother tongue in the class
- they are not consistent in attending the class
- they bring their own problems to the class, or
- they are illiterate in their own language.
In our observation many agencies (not just ESOL providers) tend to put all the refugees into one box, ignoring their experiences and their immediate needs and missing the opportunity of turning these experiences into learning opportunities. They use resources and materials that don’t fit well with these particular cultures, they depend on data that doesn’t reflect the reality and they ignore the cultural dimension differences.
The consequences of this, as we see them, are:
- limited jobs opportunities,
- frustration and social problems,
- wasting government money and tragically,
- wasting human potential.
At e-Learning Porirua, we would recommend the following:
- find a way to give the migrants and refugees’ sector in the Ministry of Education the authority to employ qualified ESOL teachers, and bilingual and liaison support people
- share the data between all the
organisationsinvolved in the processes
- adopt a different English language teaching method that fits with the needs of those cultures
- provide professional development for all stakeholders in the Cultural Dimensions.
Hofstede, 2001; Kostopoulos, 2011 ¹