Australia: A Multicultural Education Experiment




Saha, Lawrence

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Palgrave Macmillan Ltd


Australia: A Multicultural Education Experiment Lawrence J. Saha The Australian National University Abstract The purpose of this chapter is to critically review the Australian research literature from 1980 to 2017 on the relationship between race and ethnicity, education and social inequality. The chapter begins with a discussion of the Australian education system, and also Australia's changing immigration and immigration policy. An assimilation policy gave way to a multiculturalism policy from 1973 to 1979, which has radically altered the experience of migrants from all cultural backgrounds up to the present time. The points-based selection migration system began to emerge in the 1970s and replaced a system based on country of origin to one based on personal, social and occupational attributes. In this review, in addition to studies of European migrant children, a separate treatment of Asian migrants, refugees and indigenous Australians is provided, as their profiles regarding education and inequality require a different set of sociological variables and processes. The deficit model in various forms still prevails for explanations of low attainments for the indigenous Australians, and to a lesser extent, to refugees, while a language and culture model dominates explanations for European migrant children. Children of refugee migrants have unique experiences of trauma and interrupted schooling, and they have been given special programs. Multiculturalism and the current points-based migration policy have proven to be successful, but contested policies for reducing educational inequalities between migrants and non-migrants. The educational attainment gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians has closed, but it is still substantial, and many indigenous youth remain educationally disadvantaged. Implications and directions for future research on the migration and education topic are discussed.






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The Palgrave Handbook of Race and Ethnic Inequalities in Education

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