School Satisfaction of Migrant Youth: The Role of Ethnicity, Gender and Social Network

By Debby Gerritsen and Kaj van Zenderen.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the Netherlands, young immigrants are in a disadvantaged position when it comes to schooling: they are concentrated in the lower segments of education and in general have higher dropout rates than their native counterparts. It is important to note that the school performances and experiences differ between the genders. In general girls outperform boys at school, also among native youngsters, but for immigrant youngsters this difference is more pronounced. How young people access their school life is considered to be different among the genders as well.

This study focuses on school satisfaction among young immigrants in secondary vocational education in the Netherlands with an emphasis on gender differences. The results of our study, using a mixed method approach, show that immigrant girls are the most satisfied with their school life. The ethnicity effect fades once socioeconomic background, social capital, and school environment variables are included in the multivariate regression model. School satisfaction was generally explained by social network variables. We found evidence for the immigrant optimism theory; when the parents underline the importance of education, youngsters are more satisfied with their school life and a low educational level of the mother is a motivating factor for youngsters. School satisfaction improves where there is communication with parents about school, and where there are fewer conflicts with teachers. Lower life satisfaction has a negative impact on how immigrant girls adjust to school. Additionally, interviews with teachers revealed that being in school offers immigrant girls a less restricted social space with opportunities for meeting friends.

Keywords: School Satisfaction, Migrant Youth, Gender Differences, Social Network, Discrimination

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp.27-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 834.019KB).

Debby Gerritsen

PhD Student, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Debby Gerritsen obtained her Master’s Degree in Migration, Ethnic Relations and Multiculturalism at Utrecht University in 2008. At this moment she is finishing her PhD in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Utrecht University. With a special interest in education, she is currently conducting research on the participation of young migrants in Europe, the transition from school to the labour market, gender differences and social policies in these areas. Her research could be defined as interdisciplinary and practice-based.

Dr. Kaj van Zenderen

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Dr. Kaj van Zenderen was from 2006-2011 employed as a researcher in the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science at Utrecht University. His research interests were young migrants’ school–work transition, the organisation of the education system and labour market, and evaluations of policies and measures which aim to prevent or reduce early school leaving and youth unemployment. Currently he is employed as a research associate at Kennisnet.nl, an association which stimulates the use of ICT in education. He monitors the overall integration of ICT use in schools and evaluates if certain applications contribute to the improvement of teaching and learning processes.

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