The role of the mother-tongue based programs in promoting education and integration of immigrant-background children within the Turku municipality
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
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This study evaluates the extent to which the introduction of the OMO (Education given in students’ native languages) and MAI (Immigrant native language education) programs into the comprehensive schools in Turku has contributed to the academic development and integration of young immigrants. OMO and MAI are two language programs that promote the teaching of mother tongue to children of immigrant backgrounds. The programs also aim to teach regular comprehensive school subjects in the mother tongues of immigrants in order to promote understanding of the subject contents. The study employed phenomenography as a method. Six facilitators of the OMO and MAI programs were randomly selected and interviewed using the unstructured interview approach. Data obtained through the interviews were coded and analyzed using the qualitative content analysis. The outcome of this research indicates that the OMO and MAI programs have helped to promote the smooth integration of young immigrants into their new cultural and linguistic environment. The programs have energized the zeal in young immigrants to appreciate their cultural identity, thus helping them to respect the culture of the larger Finnish society in Turku. The research also indicates that the educational development of children of immigrant descent in Turku has improved through their participation in these language programs. Although these mother tongue-based programs play vital roles in helping young immigrants to integrate, the implementation of the programs has been fraught with challenges that need immediate attention. This study identifies those challenges and suggests that when they are dealt with, the programs may more effectively enhance the integration of immigrants in general, and especially their inclusion in the comprehensive schools in Turku.
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