Refugee mothers’ experiences of the early childhood education and care system in Finland
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
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Oulu : S. Eshan,
In the last decade, the refugee crisis has significantly increased worldwide. A large number of refugees have entered Europe as asylum seekers. Within Europe, Finland has received the fourth highest number of refugees. In such a situation, attention should be paid on the successful integration of refugees. To that extend, schooling of refugee children can be an important tool for integration.
This qualitative study focuses on the feelings and experiences of refugee mothers regarding their children’s presence in Finnish day care centres. It looks at their initial experiences around enrolling their children in day care centres, the challenges they faced and kind of support they received. The study also looks at their feedback and recommendations on the existing Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) system. Previous studies on refugees in Finland have reflected predominantly on the economic impact of refugees on the host country, the labor market integration process, challenges in dealing refugees and basic needs of refugees like health care. Some articles also talked about the challenges immigrant parents face regarding their child’s adjustment. However, there seems to be few studies that focus on the educational domain and even fewer studies on that of ECEC policy for refugee children. This research hopes to bring into focus ECEC in Finland by exploring the perspectives of refugee mothers.
This research was developed using the narrative approach as a methodology. Four refugee mothers were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires. The experiences they have shared as stories are the data of the research. The experiences the participants shared had both similarities and difference in various aspects. Findings of this research suggest that, Finnish day centres play a vital role in the development of every refugee children. The children of refugee background appear to enjoy the activities in the day care centre and have developed a strong bonding with the care giver there. However, parents have identified different aspects where the care giver could improve their support and become more efficient in handling multi-cultural environment.
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