Immigrant students in Switzerland more motivated, less integrated

The study focused on 15-16-year-olds in secondary schools around the world. Keystone

A new report shows that immigrant teens in Switzerland feel more motivated to do well in school than their native-born peers, despite feeling less integrated than a decade ago.

This content was published on March 19, 2018 minutes

The report was publishedExternal link on Monday by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and compares comprehensive 2015 statistics about teenage student performance with a more recent overview specifically of immigrant students.

On performance, the findings state, foreign-origin 15-to-16-year-olds in Swiss schools fare averagely: some 58% demonstrate competence in the three core subjects of reading, mathematics, and science.

This is just above the European and international mean, though it pales in comparison with the top-performing nations of Singapore (91% competence), Macao (88%), Hong Kong (84%), and Canada (82%).

In general, the OECD's report found that foreign-born pupils perform around 10 percentage points below their native-born peers across subject areas. To explain this, the authors of the study highlight two main factors: socio-economic disadvantage (since immigrants, especially recent arrivals, are often poor and not yet well-integrated) and language barriers.

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The students were also asked about their motivation and environment. Here, 46% of immigrant students in Switzerland said they were “motivated” or “rather motivated”: far below the European average of 66%, but well above the meagre one-third of native Swiss students who admitted to being motivated.

On this front, when native and non-native students are combined, Switzerland has the world’s least-motivated 15-and-16-year-olds, the OECD statistics show, though the trend is complex

Lastly, when it comes to the integration of foreign-born students in Swiss schools, 54% said they feel as though they “fit in”. Still a majority, albeit one that has dropped by 17 percentage points since 2003.

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