Sociological Perspectives on Migrant Children's Education: The Public Chilean Schools Case

Sociological Perspectives on Migrant Children's Education: The Public Chilean Schools Case

Dante Castillo (Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Chile) and Alejandro Vega-Muñoz (PIIE Corporation, Chile)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1847-2.ch005
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This chapter aims to analyze from a sociological perspective the process of schooling for migrant children based on the observed relationships among students in order to provide inputs to strengthen the dynamics of the Chilean inclusive school system. Its thematic relevance lies in the social impact on minorities of social exclusion in their school experience and its impact on social integration. Through a qualitative approach in five communes of the Santiago metropolitan area (Chile) that concentrate a high migrant population (Bolivian, Colombian, Dominican, Haitian, and Peruvian), the results show the complex social and school reality associated with migration and permanence in the formal school system and migrant group inclusion difficulties in the daily dynamics.
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The Immigrants Schooling Processes

The evidence regarding the migrant population schooling processes has greater development in countries where migratory processes have a longer history. In the Chile case, the research is still insufficient, even though it tends to be aligned with international evidence.

Based on this research objectives, some of the findings found, both in Chile and in other contexts, are presented in three relevant school experience dimensions:

  • School culture, in relation to the discrimination dynamics existence within schools and institutional dynamics tending to confront them.

  • The migrant population academic performance.

  • Territorial concentration, distribution and grade in the migrant population educational network and the national population.

One the recurring topics in the debate about immigration and school is the tension between the prejudice’s consolidation and stereotypes and the school institution capacity to moderate them. Cárdenas (2006) found in a middle school sample that overtly hostile prejudices had led to more subtle or hidden ones, but they had not disappeared, corroborating the Pettigrew and Meertens hypothesis (1995) that there is difficulty in recognizing themselves as racist or xenophobic. In other words, mere coexistence does not eliminate the discrimination existence in school daily life. This subtle prejudice was detected in Pedagogy students in Chile, with less intensity in women and people with previous interactions with immigrants (Navas & Sánchez, 2010). This discrimination is also evidenced in less subtle ways, which unfold in the everyday in the adult’s speech towards children and adolescents, categorizing and classifying them (Tijoux, 2013). Despite this, the immigration arrival plays an economic role, as in many European cities (Alegre, Benito & González, 2006; Burgess, Wilson & Lupton, 2005), where the massive income of these students helps to survive the agonizing public system in those neighborhoods where the wealthiest families have decided to send their children to subsidized private schools. In the Chilean case it is expressed that the migrant arrival students in the public network has allowed to reverse the enrollment loss trend for almost two decades.

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