Douglas Todd: Offspring of Chinese and South Asian immigrants reaping high-skilled jobs

The overall national numbers somewhat amplify the differences between visible minorities and not visible minority given rural Canada is overall not visible minority, and where levels of university education are lower. However, even at the city level, the differences are significant in terms of income but with the same relative pattern of visible minority groups that are doing better compared to those that are not:

Second-generation immigrants are proving adept at moving into high-skilled careers in Canada.

The offspring of Chinese and South Asian immigrants, especially women, stand out for obtaining a much higher percentage of high-skill careers in Canada than the rest of the population.

A new Statistics Canada analysis reveals more than 40 per cent of second-generation Canadians of Chinese or South Asian background — the two largest minority groups in Canada — have found mid-career jobs in high-skill sectors.

That compares to less than 30 per cent of second-generation male Southeast Asian or white immigrants — and 20 per cent of white males whose parents are not immigrants. The study’s surprising, mixed results may cause some public-policy makers to re-think their traditional understanding of employment equity.

The StatsCan analysis, by Wen-Hao Chen and Feng Hou, shows children of nearly all immigrants are significantly more educated than their parents. And second-generation Chinese, South Asian, Japanese, Korean and West Asians are obtaining the highest proportion of university degrees and strongest percentage of jobs that rely on such educations.

But other second-generation immigrants — particularly Filipinos, blacks and Latin Americans — are not doing nearly so well at snagging high-skill jobs.

Neither are whites whose parents are not immigrants, whom the report refers to as “third-plus generation whites.” The StatsCan analysis did not include data on Indigenous people, who tend to score low on educational and labour rankings.

“Second-generation Chinese and South Asians, in particular, are over-represented in high-skill occupations relative to third-plus generation whites,” say Chen and Hou.

“About 40 per cent or more of second-generation Chinese, South Asians and West Asian or Arabs worked in high-skill occupations, compared with 20 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women among third-plus generation whites,” says their February study, titled Intergenerational Education Mobility and Labour Market Outcomes.

“The shares of second-generation Filipinos, Latin Americans and blacks working in high-skill occupations were similar to or smaller than those of third-plus generation whites,” said the report, noting that less than 22 per cent of Filipino, Latin American, black immigrants, or white males of Canadian-born parents, were employed in the high-skill sector.

Canadian women are in general doing better than men at obtaining high-skilled work.

Especially excelling are second-generation women of Chinese, South Asian and West Asian/Iranian origins. More than 43 per cent of women in these cohorts work at high-skilled jobs, compared to just 31 per cent of white women who are not the children of immigrants.

The StatsCan report, based on the 2016 census, defines high-skill occupations as those that generally require a university education, such as senior and middle management roles, as well as professions in business, finance, health, applied sciences, education, law, community services, arts and culture.

The report shows a strong link between obtaining a university degree and, before age 45, getting a high-skilled job. The exception was among Filipino, Latin American and black women, whom the report suggested may be vulnerable “to a certain degree of over-education.”

Table 4: Percentage of workers aged 25 to 44 in high-skill occupations among second-generation groups. (Source: Excerpt from Statistics Canada analysis.)

One of the paradoxical findings in the report is that there is not always a direct parallel between getting a university education, obtaining a high-skill job and achieving a strong salary.

“All second-generation groups, both men and women, had higher university completion rates than third-plus generation whites,” write Chen and Hou. Many of the minority cohorts had twice the university completion rate of whites whose parents are not immigrants.

Yet the veteran researchers found university-educated second-generation male Chinese and South Asians end up having roughly the same annual earnings — in the low-$60,000 range — as male whites whose parents have resided in the country for decades.

The levelling out of annual wages among the different ethnic and immigrants cohorts is partly owed to the way the Statistics Canada report tallies only people who obtain university degrees, not those who finish college or technical-school degrees or diplomas.

Chen and Hou note the children of the Canadian-born tend to go to colleges. Other demographers point to how white Canadian males are increasingly avoiding university and finding employment in the trades, such as plumbing, carpentry and electronics, which can often be well compensated compared to jobs in the arts, community and culture sectors.

One factor that might hold back some second-generation Canadians could be language. Chen and Hou suggest male offspring of Latin American and Southeast Asian immigrants end up earning less per year than most males, roughly $45,000 annually, in part because they tend not to speak English at home.

Women in general also earn less per year than most males, regardless of immigration status, according to the Statistics Canada analysis, which suggests that “discrimination” and “cultural factors” could be relevant in regards to the differences between male and female annual earnings.

All in all, data show offspring of immigrants are doing either decently or exceptionally in both higher education and the job market. And this StatsCan analysis of the 2016 census complicates the picture of who is flourishing and struggling in the Canadian workplace.

Source: Douglas Todd: Offspring of Chinese and South Asian immigrants reaping high-skilled jobs

Racialized student achievement gaps are a red-alert

Interesting explanation and discussion of affirmative (helping individual students) versus transformative (addressing systemic barriers) without citing any evidence regarding the relative success of each approach:

Toronto public schools have major and rising student achievement gaps based on race and income, according to a landmark report last year. One of the biggest blocks to closing these gaps is educators’ understanding of why these gaps exist and the methods used to try and close them.

Last summer, education researchers, community partners and teachers gathered to address such reports of inequality. One of the main issues discussed was how identity-based data helps to locate and remove systemic barriers.

The action plan for Ontario, which aims to make sure every student has the opportunity to succeed, “regardless of background, identity or personal circumstances,” includes an analysis of identity-based data.

Researchers have demonstrated that in Toronto public schools, Black, racialized and lower-income students face significant gaps in student outcomes. Other reports show gaps as high as 30 per cent on standardized test scores. Lower socioeconomic groupings of Black, Middle Eastern, Indigenous and Latino boys were among those most impacted by the achievement gap

On top of this, racialized students feel less comfortable at school. Black, Latino and (racially) mixed students from lower socioeconomic groups reported lower levels of school satisfaction than all other racial groups. These students felt less comfortable participating in class than students in higher socioeconomic groups.

This data could help Ontario school boards not only identify issues, but also change the systems and structures that cause achievement and opportunity gaps for underserved groups of students.

Factor in historical injustices

For decades, researchers in the United States have used identity-based data to identify achievement gaps between groups of students based on race, gender, language, ability, sexuality and other social identities.

This has not been common practice in Canada. Although some of the U.S. research has been misguided, critiques of these early reports by education scholars has been helpful.

Research attention then turned to opportunity gaps. This framing considers historical structural barriers in schools that produce educational inequities. So instead of focusing on deficits in students, the research focuses on systemic issues such as economic resources, racism and embedded practices in policies.

This research shift was promising, but most discussions of opportunity gaps still fell short. They generally consider only the distribution and access to material goods within different schools, and fail to account for other opportunity gaps denied to students both inside and outside of school, including present-day and historical inequities.

Challenge traditional ways of thinking

As a former TDSB lead teacher in the Model Schools for Inner Cities(MSIC) Program designed to close gaps, and later, as a researcher who studied the MSIC program, I have some insight into how we might begin to tackle these issues in Ontario.

The MSIC program was launched in 2004 to support schools whose students faced the greatest barriers to success. My research analyzes how stakeholder groups like MSIC staff, community partners, district-level staff, school trustees and school principals in the MSIC program made sense of opportunity gaps.

I interviewed people from the stakeholder groups and analyzed program documents to gauge their understanding of the program and how their analysis shifted over a decade. Participants mostly agreed on the purpose of the program (to close opportunity gaps), but they had dramatically different ways of thinking about those gaps.

The two different approaches that emerged are affirmative versus transformative. These are categories defined in the context of international development by political theorist Nancy Fraser. The affirmative approach emphasizes fixing or saving students. This method tends to use language like “empower.”

The transformative approach focuses on addressing inequitable systemic barriers as well as challenging ways of thinking that maintain opportunity gaps. This method tends to use language like “support” and “affirm.”

These two different approaches to opportunity gaps lead to very different practices, policies and initiatives. Affirmative approaches saw students and families in the MSIC program as “in need,” while positioning the program as the “saviour.”

Transformative approaches positioned the program as temporary support that aimed to work itself out of existence. Underserved communities were understood to have abundant social, political and cultural resources and agency to ensure their children’s success.

Affirm identities

Affirmative approaches work to ensure all students have access to the same experiences and material goods. Equal access to nutrition, technology and health services is also essential in transformative approaches. However, a transformative approach believes opportunity gaps are not fixed by just providing equal resources. Programs should also work to affirm students’ identities.

In other words, schools should develop curriculum, field trips and extracurricular activities based on the students’ lived experiences, interests and aspirations. Injustices can be addressed by the redistribution of goods, but recognition and representation matter as well.

Affirmative approaches provide parents with opportunities to network, learn about parenting and build workforce skills within the confines of board structures.

Transformative approaches work with parents and caregivers to advocate for their rights and navigate the educational system to support their children.

Teach students to engage critically

Affirmative approaches are related to the purpose of achieving excellence, in teaching and learning, generally in the form of standardized test scores.

Transformative approaches view equity as a prerequisite for excellence, but excellence is not the main point of education. The main point is to support students in engaging critically in a democratic society.

As Ontario school boards begin their project of collecting identity-based data, and as the boards work towards closing the achievement and opportunity gaps, policy-makers and school leaders will need to focus on transformative approaches. Their work needs to understand the relationships between historical injustices and student achievement, engagement and well-being today.

Why Hungary’s state-sponsored schoolbooks have teachers worried

More discouraging news from Hungary:

Flick through a Hungarian history book for high school students, and you’re left in no doubt about the government’s view on migrants.

The section on “Multiculturalism” opens with a photo of refugees camped under a Budapest railway station. Flanking the image is a speech given by strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the perils of migration: “We consider it a value that Hungary is a homogenous country,” he says.

The state-sanctioned textbooks are part of a government shakeup of Hungary’s education system that is causing deep unease among some teachers and publishers.

Critics say the textbooks are just one front in a government crusade to remake the education system — and the country — in its Christian, nationalist image. Orban has also scrapped academic programs that don’t fit with his conservative values, effectively forcing one of Hungary’s leading universities to move its courses abroad.

Education ‘straight from the state’

The shake-up comes amid weeks of street protests against Orban’s hardline policies, signaling cracks in his grip on the central eastern European nation.

Since Orban’s populist Fidesz Party swept into power in 2010, and most recently won a landslide victory again in April last year, it has been at the helm of a “major educational reform,” government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told CNN when it visited Hungary late last year.

Previously, local municipalities oversaw the country’s public schools. But in recent years the state has taken over responsibility — and that includes supplying textbooks, said Kovacs of the measure to tackle funding “insufficiencies.” He said that “finally, after almost 20 years of struggle of how to finance and run the education system, we have taken responsibility.” The government hoped to introduce a new curriculum by fall this year, Kovacs added.

School books are created in the state-run Education Research and Development Center (OFI) by various contributing experts, explained Ildiko Repárszky, a history teacher and author of some of the earlier versions.

These days, the books don’t bear the name of a single author on the cover. Instead, a board of editors reportedly handles the texts from contributors “completely freely, as raw material, reshaping them at will,” said Repárszky.

The reforms come as the country’s Central European University — founded by billionaire philanthropist and well-known Orban foe George Soros — announced last month it had been “forced out” of Hungary by a hostile government and was moving its US-accredited courses to the Austrian capital Vienna.

The internationally renowned university called it a “dark day” for Hungary and Europe — something the government dismissed as “nothing more than a Soros-style political bluff.”

But some educators in Hungary told CNN that Orban’s hardline policies were already having a deep impact on the nation’s children, long before they entered university.

‘This is just everyday politics’

In his small office in central Budapest, chairman of Hungary’s Association of History Teachers, Laszlo Miklosi, opens a history book for 14 and 15-year-olds covered in Post-it notes.

He turns to the page on multiculturalism and points to a speech Orban gave to the European Parliament in Strasbourg in May 2015 that laid out Hungary’s position on migrants.

In the speech, the Prime Minister said Hungarians considered it a value that their country was homogenous in terms of its “culture,” “traits” and “way of thinking.” “This is just everyday politics,” said Miklosi, adding “It doesn’t say anything about the actual reasons for existing problems of migration — instead it’s what the current prime minister thinks about it.”

Orban’s defiant relationship with the European Union also plays out in a cartoon showing Germany as a giant sow feeding piglets representing Greece, Spain, Belgium and Portugal. Standing apart from the rest and happily munching its own grass, is the Hungary piglet.

In the same geography book under the chapter on “Population Decline and Migration,” another cartoon shows a Hungarian boy and girl with the caption: “The number of those who think Hungary is the best place to live has significantly increased.”

The illustration includes statistics like “67% of young people can only imagine their future in this country.” And “every 4th young person lives in a marriage or a permanent relationship and 68% of those who don’t, would like to,” with no clear source for the findings.

The image “enlarges the patriotic feelings of young people in Hungary, their contentedness with their country, their willingness to get married and start a family — while also downplaying their willingness to move abroad,” said Repárszky, who is also part of the Association of History Teachers, which has around 400 members.

Government spokesman Kovacs dismissed the teachers’ concerns as a “political opinion,” adding that the government always welcomed “criticism, contribution, observations and comments” from “professional organizations.”

‘Migrant’ and ‘Soros’ are schoolyard taunts

Miklosi, who has reviewed school textbooks for more than 30 years, believes Orban’s anti-migrant rhetoric has filtered down to classrooms and playgrounds.

“‘Migrant’ has become a swear word for many people, including many children,” he said.

Should a teacher say the words “Jewish” or “gypsy” or “Slovak” they are often met with students “giggling and nudging each other” and the teacher has to “actively fight for space to discuss these categories in a neutral way,” Miklosi added.

It’s a view shared by English teacher Juli Karolyi, who said for some students the words “migrant” and “Soros” had become “swear words used in schoolyards and playground conflicts.”

But she added that children’s views were “mostly decided in the home” rather than in the pages of textbooks. “If the parents fall for the government propaganda, the kids will follow suit — especially the younger ones,” she said.

A few blocks from Miklosi’s inner-city office, 18-year-old student Akos Blaskovics has just finished a morning history class at his high school, Fazekas Mihály Gimnázium. The quietly-spoken teenager told CNN that he “hasn’t really seen a difference in the messages of textbooks in recent years.”

But he did think the government has tried to “make people focus on the question of migrants,” rather than “more important things like education, healthcare and social problems.”

Five textbook publishers, 123 trials

In a small village 30 minutes’ drive east of Budapest, publisher András Romankovics’ home office is packed with bookshelf after bookshelf of rainbow-colored spines arranged by decade.

The former teacher and his wife started publishing school textbooks in 1978, and he estimates around 10 million copies have been printed over the years.

Hungarian school textbook licenses must be renewed every five years. Romankovics is one of five independent textbook publishers who are suing the government after it rejected their requests to extend their licenses, which were due to expire at the end of 2018.

The court case relates to 123 books in total — meaning 123 separate trials for each book. Needless to say it’s a lengthy process, and since the trials began in September, around 20 books have been granted permission to extend their licenses, said Romankovics.

Meanwhile the licenses of state-sponsored textbooks were extended, he said.

Kovacs, the government spokesman, would not comment on why the government had rejected the independent textbook publishers’ license requests, saying only that it was an “ongoing case” and “going through a higher level of decision-making.”

But Romankovics, who is also chair of the National Textbook Association, which represents 20 publishers, warned that without a true diversity of books, children’s education would suffer.

‘There is a deeper problem here’

While independent publishers battle to keep their textbooks in schools, university professors are battling to keep their programs in Hungary.

Inside the grand, high-ceilinged offices of Budapest’s CEU, gender studies associate professor Eva Fodor is dismayed that the government has scrapped her program which has been running for over 20 years.

The university offers US- and Hungarian-accredited gender studies degrees — or at least it did, until the government struck gender studies from its list of accredited programs in October.

While the US-accredited program will continue in Vienna, the Hungarian-accredited degree no longer exists, affecting around 45 MA students enrolling each year, said Fodor. The only other Hungarian university to offer gender studies — Eötvös Loránd (ELTE) — was also forced to scrap its program.

“It’s a clear and unprecedented violation of academic freedom,” said Fodor, adding that it wasn’t just gender studies that didn’t fit with Orban’s world view.

“It indicates that there is a deeper problem here,” she said. Orban wants to create a strong ideology that people can hold on to, based on “national pride and his idea of very simple Christian values,” Fodor said. “And (he’s) eliminating everyone else who is not willing to subscribe to this ideology,” she added.

According to Kovacs, gender studies degrees were scrapped because of low enrollment, scarce job opportunities, and the government’s “philosophical approach.”

“We believe there are only two sexes — men and women,” he said. Kovacs added that students were still free to research gender issues from the perspective of other disciplines, such as philosophy or sociology. “But we don’t believe that gender is an independent discipline in itself.”

Students who see it otherwise had better look for classrooms outside Hungary.

Source: Why Hungary’s state-sponsored schoolbooks have teachers worried

School boards push back on ‘witch hunt’ as government seeks data on staff religious symbols

Very intrusive vs the self-declaration approach of the census and employment equity (which do not capture the degrees of religiosity in the census or religious minority status in EE). The 2011 NHS provided the following numbers for Quebec education Muslim employees (not only teachers) – 2.3% in schools, 1.9 % in CEGEPs, 5.3% in universities:

The head of Quebec’s largest school board says she was outraged by a request from the province’s Education Department last week seeking to know how many board employees wear religious symbols.

Catherine Harel Bourdon, who oversees the Commission scolaire de Montreal, says the request received Friday could be seen as contravening the rights and freedoms of its employees.

Harel Bourdon says the board was not told why the department was seeking such information. She said the board’s response was that it does not collect such information and would not engage in what she called a witch hunt.

The controversy comes as the new Coalition Avenir Quebec government prepares legislation that would prohibit public servants in positions of authority — including teachers — from wearing religious symbols such as the hijab, kippa or turban at work.

Francis Bouchard, a spokesman for Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge, says no formal request for a tally was made — rather a number of school boards were called to determine whether such information exists. Bouchard accused the boards of manufacturing a scandal.

Relations were already strained between the province’s school boards and the new government, which was elected on a promise to eliminate the boards in favour of new service centres.

Source: School boards push back on ‘witch hunt’ as government seeks data on staff religious symbols

More extensive reporting in French:

Le ministère de l’Éducation a causé toute une commotion en demandant à des commissions scolaires de dénombrer les enseignants et les membres de la direction des écoles qui portent un signe religieux au travail, a appris La Presse.

Leur fédération s’est aussitôt rebiffée, mandatant ses services juridiques de vérifier la légalité d’une telle manoeuvre, selon un courriel envoyé à tous ses membres.

Des sources sûres indiquent qu’au moins trois commissions scolaires de la région métropolitaine ont reçu une demande du Ministère visant à divulguer des statistiques sur le port de signes religieux. Il s’agit des commissions scolaires de Montréal (CSDM), de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSPI) et de Laval (CSDL).


La demande aurait été faite verbalement, et non par écrit, vendredi dernier. Le ressac a été immédiat. Les commissions scolaires visées ont exprimé leur malaise devant une telle demande.

La Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec (FCSQ) s’est mêlée du dossier, selon un courriel envoyé à l’ensemble de ses membres. « Certaines commissions scolaires ont reçu une demande du bureau de la sous-ministre de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur pour dénombrer le personnel des commissions scolaires et des écoles qui portent des signes religieux au travail », peut-on lire.

« Dans l’éventualité où vous auriez reçu une demande semblable, nous vous prions de nous en informer dans les plus brefs délais. »

La FCSQ suggère de ne pas répondre au Ministère pour le moment, toujours selon ce courriel. « Nos services juridiques évaluent présentement cette demande. Des instructions supplémentaires vous seront transmises le plus rapidement possible », écrit la fédération.

« Aberrant ! »

La présidente de la CSDM, Catherine Harel Bourdon, confirme que le Ministère a demandé des statistiques sur le nombre d’employés portant des signes religieux. On lui a répondu que de telles statistiques n’existent pas et ne seraient pas produites non plus. « J’ai trouvé ça aberrant ! », a lancé Mme Harel Bourdon en entrevue. Une commission scolaire qui ferait un tel dénombrement irait à l’encontre de la Charte québécoise des droits et libertés de la personne, selon elle.

« Ça fait plusieurs mois que des journalistes me demandent combien il y en a. Ce que j’ai toujours répondu, c’est que nous, quand on fait des embauches, autant de nouvelles embauches qu’au niveau de notre personnel qui est déjà à notre emploi, on ne demande pas s’ils portent des signes religieux », a-t-elle affirmé.

« Je verrais mal un employeur faire une demande comme ça. »

L’article 18.1 de la Charte stipule que « nul ne peut, dans un formulaire de demande d’emploi ou lors d’une entrevue relative à un emploi, requérir d’une personne des renseignements » relatifs, entre autres, à sa religion.

Certes, il existe des statistiques, par exemple, sur la proportion d’employés du secteur public qui appartiennent à une minorité visible. Mais elles sont le résultat d’un exercice encadré par la Charte. Il s’agit du programme d’accès à l’égalité en emploi. À cette fin bien précise, tous les employés sont appelés, de façon volontaire, à remplir un questionnaire et à déclarer s’ils sont membres d’une minorité visible. La démarche du ministère de l’Éducation ne se fait pas dans ce cadre. Il n’est jamais question de port de signes religieux dans ces questionnaires.

Toutes les sources consultées font un lien entre la demande du Ministère et la volonté du gouvernement d’interdire le port de signes religieux chez les enseignants (mais aussi chez les représentants de l’État dotés d’un pouvoir de coercition : juges, procureurs de la Couronne, policiers et gardiens de prison).

Le premier ministre François Legault affirmait avant les Fêtes qu’il n’y aurait pas de clause de droits acquis pour les employés actuels, communément appelée clause grand-père. Pour éviter des congédiements, Québec a évoqué l’idée de déplacer les récalcitrants à d’autres fonctions. Un projet de loi est attendu bientôt.

Du « profilage » ?

Pour la porte-parole du Parti libéral en matière d’éducation, Marwah Rizqy, la demande du Ministère revient à faire du « profilage ». « Une fois qu’on a répertorié le nombre, c’est quoi, la suite des choses ? Est-ce que c’est pour venir en quelque sorte banaliser en disant : “Écoutez, ça ne touche pas tant de monde que ça ?” Et si c’est ça, l’objectif, est-ce qu’il est aussi en train de nous dire que les droits fondamentaux, si vous êtes un petit nombre, vous n’en avez pas ? C’est de l’improvisation. »

Le gouvernement Marois, qui voulait interdire aux employés de l’État de porter des signes religieux, n’avait pas demandé un dénombrement aux commissions scolaires, a confirmé une source impliquée dans le dossier à l’époque. Elle est surprise de la démarche faite par le ministère de l’Éducation.

Le cabinet du ministre de l’Éducation, Jean-François Roberge, n’a pas donné de réponses aux questions que La Presse lui a posées hier.



Commission scolaire de Montréal

– Plus de 8200 enseignants

– 127 écoles primaires

– 26 écoles secondaires

Commission scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île

– Plus de 4300 enseignants

– 40 écoles primaires

– 7 écoles secondaires

Commission scolaire de Laval

– Plus de 5000 enseignants

– 56 écoles primaires

– 14 écoles secondaires

Source: Signes religieux chez les enseignants: Québec veut des chiffres

Douglas Todd: Chinese students’ river of cash unlikely to dry up

Speculation, of course, but my guess:

A business college at the University of Illinois has taken out an insurance policy against the potential catastrophic loss of revenue from high-fee-paying students from China.

Educators and social-media commentators are expressing fears the river of money flowing from Chinese students into Canada, the U.S., Britain and Australia will dry up because of a brewing trade war and the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

The government of China has said it has more than 600,000 students studying abroad, the vast majority of them in English-language countries. Highly desired Canada has more than 186,000 of them, according to China’s Toronto consulate (the federal government’s figure is slightly lower). That means China’s young people make up roughly one in three of all 500,000 international students in Canada.

Despite China’s ambassador to Canada last week hammering English-speaking countries as “arrogant” and rife with “white supremacy” for their defence of Meng’s arrest, there is no sign that China’s leaders are ready to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, who reacted to Canada’s human rights comments last year by calling back most of the Saudi students in Canada.

“I don’t think the Chinese will be as petulant as the Saudis were, or as unsophisticated, although they may make more subtle changes over time,” Andrew Griffith, a migration researcher and former senior director in Canada’s Immigration Department, said.

Canada could even attract more Chinese students in the future in part because the number entering the U.S. appears to be flattening out, possibly because of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about China and immigrants. That’s why Illinois business college dean Jeffrey Brown, realizing his school had become highly dependent on Chinese students’ money, took out an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London.

Canada hosts eight times more Chinese students per capita than the U.S., suggesting this country’s educational institutions are more dependent on, if not addicted to, their fees than U.S. colleges. Some higher-education researchers are calling the phenomenon “academic capitalism.”

It’s the expanding trend in English-language countries to make up for steadily eroding taxpayer funding of schools, colleges and universities by capitalizing on the full fees paid by students from mostly well-off families from around the world, with China providing by far the biggest group.

Some Canadian educators, and researchers like Mengwei Su and Laura Harrison of Ohio University, say the intense concentration of Chinese students in Western schools brings with it drawbacks, however, mainly for the students themselves.

Even though Western universities welcome Chinese students as “a particularly lucrative market,” Su and Harrison found many of the young Chinese struggle with English and integrating into Western culture — partly because they are ending up in classrooms and living situations dominated by other students from China.

“Seventy per cent of the students in my class are from China,” one Chinese student told the Ohio researchers, describing the sense of social segregation. “The class is not much different from that in our country,” said another Chinese pupil. One young woman from China opted to study in the Netherlands rather than North America, saying, “I want to avoid too many Chinese students.”

Against a backdrop in which the taxpayer-funded proportion of the operating budgets of B.C.’s public universities has drastically declined in recent decades, more than half the foreign undergraduate students at Simon Fraser University, more than 2,700, now come from China.

The University of B.C. has 5,000 students from China, almost one third of its international student population. Scores of public high schools, colleges and two-room private language institutes also take in hefty fees from the roughly 50,000 Chinese students in B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver.

The dark blue at the top of this chart indicates more than half the undergraduate international students at Simon Fraser University since 2011 have come from China. (Source: SFU)

The federal Liberal government is busily wooing more Chinese students, however. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is following the enthusiastic lead of former minister John McCallum and saying “We’ll do whatever we can” to bring in an increasing number of students from China.

Hussen maintains international students in Canada, whose numbers have been recently jumping by roughly one quarter annually, funnel $11.6 billion a year into Canada’s economy, adding they also enhance “cultural exchange.” To make it easier for more Chinese students to jet across the Pacific Ocean to Canada, the Liberal government recently opened seven new visa centres in China. Hussen acknowledged such students can contribute to the housing and rental squeeze in cities such as Toronto and Metro Vancouver, particularly since many offshore parents buy Canadian homes for their offspring.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says “We’ll do whatever we can” to bring in an increasing number of students from China.

Western “higher education institutions are slowly evolving into a corporate-like enterprise that pursues monetary gains, at times eclipsing their educational mission,” write Su and Harrison, of Ohio University, echoing growing sentiment among scholars of higher education.

The Ohio researchers found a key financial problem is that some overseas recruiting “agents” are exploiting international students, with more than half the Chinese students they surveyed hiring these advisers to navigate their complicated route to the West.

The trouble with agents dominating the field of global education, according to Su and Harrison, is many are providing misinformation to students, steering them to inappropriate schools and not warning them about how difficult it will likely be to learn workable English. Many students get stuck in never-ending English-remediation classes.

To root out abuse and increase overseas families’ trust in such agents, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Ireland have developed a code to regulate them, say Thompson Rivers University researchers Victoria Handford and Halying Li.

But Canada has not signed on to the protocol, which is designed to ensure the agents behave more ethically.

Meanwhile, Canada’s recruiting continues apace.

Source: Douglas Todd: Chinese students’ river of cash unlikely to dry up

School agents benefit both Canada and China – The Conversation

The analysis of the numbers and practices is more interest than what appears to be shilling for education consultants while indicating a possible regulatory gap:

China is the No.1 source country of international students who come to study in Canada. According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, 150,000 international students from China studied in Canada in 2017.

Any political impact on Canadian and Chinese relations is potentially serious for a wide global network with something at stake related to Chinese students in Canada — including students and their families, universities and services related to international study, such as education agents.

Education agents play a significant role in counselling and referring students to international education providers. They connect the people involved in international education, linking students, parents, education providers, visa offices, professional service providers such as language training institutions, academic program evaluation agencies, travel and accommodation providers and finance institutions to each other in order to facilitate study in another country.

As an education researcher focused on studying trust and leadership, and as part of my university’s recruitment efforts, I have studied how students and their families decide to invest in international education, including through using education agents.

I also supervised a student’s research project that investigated the role of education agents in China. The student, Haiying Li, helped to inform this article. Li worked as an education agent between 2001 and 2014 in various capacities: among her roles, she worked for our university, and as a consultant for Beijing-, and Guangzhou-based firms and at a program supporting Masters students based in Vancouver and Shanghai. This was before she became a student in Canada.

What I have seen is that education agents play a significant role in helping international students come from China to Canada, and the agents’ work benefits both countries’ economies and people.

How agents work

The agents provide services such as identifying the institution and course of study that meet the student’s needs, helping the students finish applications, submitting grade records and serving as a liaison. Some agencies may also provide training for required language proficiency tests. In some cases, after the student enrols the agent can play the role of cultural mediator.

Based on research conducted in 2014, 60 per cent of international students used an education agent to apply to Canadian colleges and universities.

Among the three different types of education agents, the first is an institution representative who receives a commission by the school they represent. The second type is the student’s representative; the student pays for advising services typically to apply to academic programs offered by the best-ranked universities.

The third type of agent may be remunerated by both a student and an institution. The student pays for the agent’s professional overseas study consulting service; the agent may also receive commission from schools who she or he works for.

Canada benefits

I teach and supervise many international students, including Chinese students. Students’ eagerness and wonder in a new place is common, yet no less beautiful each time it unfolds, reinforcing the significance of intercultural experiences.

International students bring Canadians the opportunity to begin to understand cultural differences and similarities and to become better equipped to live successfully in a multicultural global economy.

International students bring both more money and jobs to Canada, contributing more than $15.5 billion to Canada’s economy annually. They bring knowledge, information and skills to Canada.

The federal government reports that international student spending directly and indirectly supported 168,860 jobs in Canada in 2016, an increase of 38 per cent over 2014. Thus international students have direct impacts on GDP, jobs and tax revenue.

Agents working for schools recruit students to Canadian institutions but if they perform their role successfully, they also raise the brand image of the institutions.

These agents also market Canada. They show the advantages of Canada amid other prospective countries of study, empahsizing the quality of education, the multicultural nature of Canada, safety, the beautiful Canadian environment, the potential for new economic development, the high-quality life style and immigration pathways for international students.

A 2013 report commissioned by the Council of Ministers of Education Canada based on a voluntary survey of 145 elementary, secondary and post-secondary Canadian educational administrators, and government officials in education says that how schools use and manage agents varies significantly (of note: Québec survey responders reported minimal use of agents). More research about agents’ work in Canada would be helpful.

Agents in China

Consultants EY Parthenon report that the total agent market size in China is USD$1.2 billion. In 2017, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education, 608,400 Chinese students were going abroad.

Students who leave China to study internationally come from across the country, including from what China classifies as first-, second- and third-tier cities. China ranks these cities based on five indicators: availability of business resources, urban hubs, activity of urban people, lifestyle diversity and future plasticity.

From the perspectives of parents and international students, the education agent is a conduit. Working with an education agent is reassuring because the agent can understand parents, students and their families and speak their language and thus help navigate a huge emotional and financial decision.


Some existing studies suggest that students and their families often choose the institutions that the agents recommend.

But researchers Mengwei Su and Laura M. Harrison argue this reliance has not always been beneficial to students: they argue that in our globalized economy students may be exploited for economic gain and that “delegating recruitment to overseas agencies causes mismatches between host institutions and the Chinese students.”

In a context where Chinese study abroad has grown rapidly and not every country agrees on regulatory practices (Canada is not a signator to an 2012 agreement signed by the U.K., Australia, Ireland and New Zealand for best practices agents’ trustworthiness is a significant issue for families and schools.

Eight interviews recently conducted with people knowledgeable about agent work (one agent in China, one director of international marketing representative from a Canadian university, three mothers of international students and three international students) suggested some values and standards that could be probed in further research.

In creating trustworthy relationships between clients and agents, positive feedback from the client’s friends was significant: in other words, a word-of-mouth referral. Successful experiences shared by previous clients, coupled with objective comparisons of service price, service quality and personal qualities of the agents all mattered.

With the growing markets in international education, high-quality services by trustworthy professionals are essential.

Source: School agents benefit both Canada and China – The Conversation

Immigrant kids in U.S. deliberately build STEM skills

Similar pattern in Canada (chart above looks at Canadian-born visible minority university and college graduates compared to Not VisMin):

U.S. immigrant children study more math and science in high school and college, which leads to their greater presence in STEM careers, according to new findings from scholars at Duke University and Stanford University.

“Most studies on the assimilation of immigrants focus on the language disadvantage of non-English-speaking immigrants,” said Marcos Rangel, assistant professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. “We focus instead on the comparative strength certain immigrant children develop in numerical subjects, and how that leads to majoring in STEM subjects in college.”

About 20 percent of U.S.-born college students major in STEM subjects. Yet those numbers are much higher among immigrants — particularly among who arrive the U.S. after age 10, and who come from countries whose native languages are dissimilar to English, Rangel said. Within that group, 36 percent major in STEM subjects.

“Some children who immigrate to the U.S., particularly older children from a country where the main language is very dissimilar to English, quite rationally decide to build on skills they are relatively more comfortable with, such as math and science,” said Rangel.

Those older immigrant children take more math and science courses in high school, the authors found. Immigrant children arriving after age 10 earn approximately 20 percent more credits in math-intensive courses than they do in English-intensive courses.

This focus continues in college, where immigrant children are more likely to pursue science, technology, engineering and math majors. Those majors, in turn, lead to careers in STEM fields. Previous research has shown that immigrants are more highly represented in many STEM careers.

“Meaningful differences in skill accumulation … shape the consequent contributions of childhood immigrants to the educated labor force,” the authors write.

Source: Immigrant kids in U.S. deliberately build STEM skills

Karen Robson: Why won’t Canada collect data on race and student success?

While I always favour more data to better understand the differences in outcomes between groups, I am puzzled by the assertions regarding data gaps made by Karen Robson in her recent opinion piece.

First, the OECD PISA study includes both first generation children, born abroad, and the second generation, born in the destination country, where issues related to racism and discrimination can be separated out more clearly from more basic integration issues (e.g., language fluency).

Secondly, while the visible minority category may not be perfect, it does provide a race-based breakdown in the Census with respect to education, along with other economic and social outcomes, which can be used to provide municipal level data at the census tract level. Toronto school board data uses largely comparable categories.

Ironically, the same pattern she cites with respect to Toronto, where the school board collects race-based data, can be seen nation-wide: Asian and South Asian students with stronger outcomes, Black and Latino weaker ones.

The following three charts illustrate this, looking at the highest level of education attainment for 25-34 year olds, or later than the high school data that she cites (i.e., the social and economic outcomes that reflect, in part, high school outcomes). The first looks at the university graduation rates for visible minorities, immigrant and non-immigrant (Canadian-born) compared to not visible minorities, the second provides a breakdown of the highest level of educational achievement for Toronto (I have done the same for the other cities) and the third looks at median employment income for university graduates:


Her academic article (…), on which this op-ed is based, doesn’t make these mistakes and is a comprehensive and interesting study of Toronto District School Board data.

But her arguments that the lack of comparable data to Toronto across the country is a significant data gap is less convincing.

Census data allows comparisons between municipalities (and down to the census tract level) and the richness of the data provides considerable scope for analysis. Whenever I find a blockage elsewhere (e.g., police force diversity numbers), I usually can find census data to respond to my key questions:

Although the impact of income inequality and gender on education outcomes is much discussed in Canadian government-level policy debates, factors of race and racism are seldom measured or addressed.

However, as an education researcher comparing student outcomes in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Chicago and London, I can see Canada’s policy-makers have a big knowledge gap because they don’t deal with or have access to information regarding race.

Students are impacted by factors of income, gender and also race. The combinations of these identities undoubtedly shape how students experience access to education, work and other types of social mobility.

Research shows that low-income can be highly racialized, yet in Canadian cities, the patterns are not completely divided along racial lines. Therefore, examining income alone overlooks the many important ways that inequalities in education are not simply an issue of economics.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, research reports regularly provide summaries of student outcomes by various characteristics, including race.

In Canada, we have a tendency to focus exclusively on whether a student comes from immigrant parents. I believe this focus is problematic.

Canada has been deemed an education superpower because comparisons between the standardized test scores (PISA) of Canadian children with those in other OECD nations find Canada near the top. As well, the 2016 federal census revealed that Canada has the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates in all 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Development (OECD). This mean that more than half of adult citizens in Canada between the ages of 25 and 64 have a college or university credential.

In particular, the success of immigrant children is used to argue that Canada is leading the way in equity.

In a country grappling with the heritage of colonialism, the success of immigrant children comes as good news to share and promote. This success can be interpreted as a sign that multiculturalism has been successful, that racism is not a barrier to education attainment and that immigrants are treated equally and have the same opportunities as children born in Canada.

This story continues in other arenas. Education researcher Trevor Gulliver analyzed citizenship guides for new Canadians and found that group identities in these education texts creates an idealized version of Canada as “Canada the redeemer.”

Such celebratory concepts of Canada need to be carefully considered.

There is a common misconception that racism is something that occurs in the U.S. and not in Canada.

One of the reasons that children of immigrants do so well in Canada is because of our immigration system which favours certain assets. The “points system” of immigration awards points to applicants who speak one of Canada’s official languages. Points are also awarded for job skills and level of education.

This is not to discount the work that teachers and schools do to integrate, educate and welcome students of immigrants; my point is that there are some reasons that such children who already speak an official language may be doing better than immigrants who arrive as refugees in another immigrant receiving country, like Sweden.

Focusing on the success of immigrants detracts from the problem of how systemic racism contributes to inequality in educational experiences and outcomes. Another common misconception is that race and immigrant status are equated; of course they are not the same thing.

The celebrated study about how well Canada did with global assessment scores only carries information on immigrant status, not race. With the exception of the Toronto District School Board, boards of education across the country do not record race data.

This lack of data has led to a dearth of studies examining the relationship between race and educational outcomes in Canada. Researchers simply do not have the data to analyze.

In response to research demonstrating a gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student outcomes in Canada, a Canadian think-tank reports that some provinces have pledged to begin asking Indigenous students attending mainstream schools to self-identify when provinces collect their PISA data. No known similar move is afoot, however, with regards to collecting data about racialized students or their income levels.

The Ministry of Education in B.C. has opted to ask students about the language students speak at home rather than their self-identified race.

Not only do we not have data on race, but it seems Canadians are also reluctant to talk about race. Even Statistics Canada defers to its old and outdated notion of “visible minority” when attempting to measure and discuss issues around race.

Lumping all non-whites together masks the huge differences we see in the educational outcomes of racialized students in Toronto.

Basically, this means comparisons are made between white and non-white people. This comparison happens even in areas like Toronto where “visible minorities” make up more than half of the population, making whites in fact, a minority. Further, the data tells us nothing about poverty by postal code.

In Toronto, where we do have data, the figures show that Asian and South Asian students trend toward having high marks and are more likely to go on to university. Black and Latino students trend toward lower grades and are more likely to be placed in the “applied” stream of high school courses (which are not eligible for university).

Considerable research in Toronto has identified Black males as having the lowest post-secondary opportunities due to their disproportionate placement in the “applied” stream of study.

These problems are not unique to Toronto; they are only measured in Toronto.

Lack of data does not mean lack of a problem. By not collecting data on race and other important sociodemographic factors of students, we fail to correct systemic barriers to success in our educational system.

By conflating immigrant success with a blanket commitment to equality, we blindly assume we are doing OK as we do not have any evidence to the contrary — because we haven’t taken the time to collect it.

Source: Karen Robson: Why won’t Canada collect data on race and student success?

Labour market outcomes for college and university graduates, class of 2010 to 2014

Good study on the differences in economic outcomes by gender, coming out just before my presentation at the ACS organized conference, STATISTICS CANADA: 100 YEARS AND COUNTING, looking at visible minorities and outcomes.

Same gender gaps but when one compares  visible minority women, Canadian-born, with not visible minority women, a number of visible minority groups have comparable economic outcomes whereas visible minority men, Canadian-born, do relatively worse compared to not visible minority men.:

Even with the same university degree or college diploma, female graduates earn, on average, less than their male counterparts two years after graduation. Results from a new study, based on administrative data, are focused for the first time on the annual employment income of college and university graduates over time in all provinces and territories.

From 2010 up to 2014, over 900,000 students under 35 years of age graduated from a Canadian public postsecondary institution and entered the labour market. Most of these graduates obtained an undergraduate degree (53%) or a college-level diploma (14%). The median employment income two years after graduation was $43,600 for those with an undergraduate degree and $39,100 for college-level diploma holders.

For all graduating cohorts from 2010 to 2014, men with college-level diplomas or undergraduate degrees had higher median employment income than women with the same credentials. The median employment income was $43,900 for men who graduated with a college-level diploma and $36,200 for women who obtained the same qualification. For those who obtained an undergraduate degree, the median employment income was $47,200 for men and $41,300 for women. Gender differences in employment income are influenced by various factors, such as choice of field of study, occupation, and hours of work. The current study cannot identify whether or not the occupation is related to the field of study of the graduate.

The employment income of graduates varies by educational qualification

Among graduates who obtained their postsecondary credential from 2010 to 2014, the year of graduation had little impact on their employment income two years after graduation as each cohort of graduates entered a similar labour market environment. However, differences in income were observed by type of qualification for all graduating classes.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two years after graduation, by educational qualification, 2010 to 2014 cohorts
Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two years after graduation, by educational qualification, 2010 to 2014 cohorts

Chart 1: Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two years after graduation, by educational qualification, 2010 to 2014 cohorts

For the most recent graduate cohort (students who obtained a credential in 2014), the median employment income two years after graduation ranged from $32,600 for graduates with a college-level certificate to $71,600 for those with a professional degree (which includes graduates from law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry or pharmacy). The results varied for other qualifications. For example, it was $38,100 for a college-level diploma, $42,700 for those with an undergraduate degree, $57,600 for a master’s degree, and $60,800 for doctoral degree graduates.

Median employment income for men ranged from $35,300 (graduates with a college level-certificate) to $72,800 (graduates with a professional degree). The median employment income for women ranged from $30,400 (college-level certificates) to $70,800 (professional degrees).

Studies in architecture, engineering and related technologies and in health and related fields lead to relatively high median employment income

Graduates from 2014 in architecture, engineering and related technologies, and in health and related fields, had the highest median employment income two years after graduation for college-level diplomas ($47,600 and $44,900, respectively) and undergraduate degrees ($60,000 and $58,200, respectively). Women and men had slightly different results.

For 2014 college-level diploma graduates, the median employment income two years after graduation in health and related fields was $44,000 for women and $50,500 for men. This was followed by architecture, engineering, and related technologies, with women earning $41,100, while men earned $48,900.

Women who obtained an undergraduate degree in health and related fields had the highest median employment income two years after graduation at $60,800, followed by architecture, engineering, and related technologies where the median employment income was $55,900.

Men with an undergraduate degree in architecture, engineering and related technologies had the highest median employment income ($61,000), followed by graduates in mathematics, computer and information sciences ($56,100). Health and related fields programs yielded the seventh highest median employment income for men at $44,100.

Among the 2014 cohort of graduates, women represented 16% of the college-level diplomas and 20% of the undergraduate degrees in the architecture, engineering and related technologies field. In contrast, they accounted for 84% of college-level diplomas and 80% of undergraduate degrees in health and related fields.

For graduates from most provinces, architecture, engineering and related technologies, and health and related fields were also among the top-earning fields of study for both college-level diploma and undergraduate degree graduates.

Employment income increases over time for postsecondary graduates

The 2011 graduating class saw their median employment income increase between 9% (for college-level diploma graduates) and 26% (for doctoral degree graduates) when measured first at two years, and then five years after graduation.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two and five years after graduation, by educational qualification, both sexes, 2011 longitudinal cohort
Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two and five years after graduation, by educational qualification, both sexes, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 2: Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two and five years after graduation, by educational qualification, both sexes, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 3  Chart 3: Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two and five years after graduation, by educational qualification, males, 2011 longitudinal cohort
Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two and five years after graduation, by educational qualification, males, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 3: Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two and five years after graduation, by educational qualification, males, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 4  Chart 4: Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two and five years after graduation, by educational qualification, females, 2011 longitudinal cohort
Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two and five years after graduation, by educational qualification, females, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 4: Median employment income of postsecondary graduates two and five years after graduation, by educational qualification, females, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Students who obtained a professional degree in 2011 continued to have the highest median employment income five years after graduation, with an increase of 14% between year two and five. Those with a master’s degree had a slightly higher median employment income two years after graduation than those who earned a doctoral degree, some of whom may have pursued postdoctoral studies. However, five years after graduation, the doctoral degree graduates were earning more.

For graduates who earned a college-level diploma in 2011, the median employment income for males increased by almost 18% between two and five years after graduation. Female graduates, in turn, had a more modest rate of growth of 4% over the same period.

Among male students who earned an undergraduate degree in 2011, overall median employment income increased by almost 26% from years two to five following their graduation. The rate of growth in median employment income for female graduates over the same time period was lower, at 15%.

Median employment income for graduates in health and related fields grows slowly

Although median employment incomes in health and related fields had the lowest growth rate among those with an undergraduate degree from years two to five after graduation (at approximately 4%), it was still among the top fields of study in terms of employment income. Graduates from humanities programs had the second highest growth rate of median employment income (28% between year two and five after graduation), however, their income ranked as one of the lowest among graduates from the major fields of study who obtained an undergraduate degree.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Median employment income of undergraduate degree graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, both sexes, 2011 longitudinal cohort
Median employment income of undergraduate degree graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, both sexes, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 5: Median employment income of undergraduate degree graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, both sexes, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 6  Chart 6: Median employment income of undergraduate degree graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, males, 2011 longitudinal cohort
Median employment income of undergraduate degree graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, males, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 6: Median employment income of undergraduate degree graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, males, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 7  Chart 7: Median employment income of undergraduate degree graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, females, 2011 longitudinal cohort
Median employment income of undergraduate degree graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, females, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 7: Median employment income of undergraduate degree graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, females, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 8  Chart 8: Median employment income of college-level diploma graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, both sexes, 2011 longitudinal cohort
Median employment income of college-level diploma graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, both sexes, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 8: Median employment income of college-level diploma graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, both sexes, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 9  Chart 9: Median employment income of college-level diploma graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, males, 2011 longitudinal cohort
Median employment income of college-level diploma graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, males, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 9: Median employment income of college-level diploma graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, males, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 10  Chart 10: Median employment income of college-level diploma graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, females, 2011 longitudinal cohort
Median employment income of college-level diploma graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, females, 2011 longitudinal cohort

Chart 10: Median employment income of college-level diploma graduates two and five years after graduation, by field of study, females, 2011 longitudinal cohort

As was the case for students with an undergraduate degree, those with a college-level diploma in health and related fields had the lowest rate of growth (less than 1%) from two to five years after graduation, but started with relatively high median employment income. College-level diploma graduates in visual and performing arts, and communications technologies, had larger income growth between two and five years after graduation at 17%, but started with the lowest median employment income.

German schools teach Islam to students to give them a sense of belonging

Interesting article on a newer German approach to integration:

It was the second week of Islam class, and the teacher, Mansur Seddiqzai, stood in front of a roomful of Muslim teens and pointed to the sentence on the chalkboard behind him: “Islam does not belong to Germany.”

He scanned the room and asked: “Who said this?”

Hands shot up. “The AfD?” one student with a navy blue headscarf said, referring to Germany’s far-right anti-refugee party. “No,” Mr Seddiqzai shook his head. “Seehofer,” tried another. “Yes, and who is that?” “A minister,” said a third.

Finally, someone put it all together, identifying Horst Seehofer, the head of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union and chancellor Angela Merkel‘s interior minister and coalition partner, who has on multiple occasions threatened to torpedo her government over the issue of immigration.

“Yes, that’s right,” Mr Seddiqzai said, turning to the others. “And what do you think? Is he correct?”

In a country where the debate over “who belongs?” has deeply divided Ms Merkel’s government, fuelled massive demonstrations and propelled the rise of anti-immigrant populism, these 16 and 17-year-olds confront versions of that question every day, in the headlines and in their personal lives: Do I belong, too? Can I be German and a Muslim?

Public schools in some of Germany’s most populous cities are helping such students come up with answers in a counterintuitive setting: Islam class.

The classes, taught by Muslims and intended for Muslim students, were first launched in the early 2000s and now are offered as electives in nine of Germany’s 16 states, by more than 800 public primary and secondary schools, according to the research network Mediendienst Integration. They include lessons on the Quran, the history of Islam, comparative religion and ethics. Often, discussions shift to the students’ identity struggles or feelings of alienation.

“When a German asks me which country I’m from, I tell them Turkey,” said Gulendam Velibasoglu, 17, who is taking Mr Seddiqzai’s 10th-grade Islam class this year. She was born and raised in this western German city. Still, she says, “If I said ‘German’, they wouldn’t accept the answer. They will see me as a foreigner, even though I’m a German citizen.”

Germany has the European Union’s second-largest Muslim population after France, according to estimates by Pew Research. In 2016, 4.95 million people, or 6.1 per cent of the German population, were Muslim. But less than half of those pray regularly, and even fewer regularly attend a mosque, according to the latest government surveys.

The country’s leaders have expressed an ambivalent view of Islam, at best. Mr Seehofer’s statement that “Islam does not belong to Germany” came just months after the Islam-bashing AfD, or Alternative for Germany, entered parliament. Ms Merkel denounced the statement and ruled out sharing power with the AfD. Nevertheless, the AfD has steadily gained support over the past two years: on 14 October, it scored the biggest electoral gains of any party in Bavaria, Germany’s most populous state.

Last year, the AfD hung campaign posters in Dortmund featuring women in burqas and the slogan “Stop Islamisation”. This year’s poster bore the words “Islam-free schools!” under an image of five beaming, light-skinned children.

Mr Seddiqzai, who was born to Afghan parents in the German city of Bochum and who wears a full beard and Nikes to school, said he worries about the effect on his students. “These posters tell them, ‘We don’t want you here’,” he said.

“They are not accepted in Germany, they are not accepted in the countries of their parents, and that produces this craving for a group to belong to,” he continued. “And then an Islamist comes to you and says, ‘Yeah, you don’t belong to anyone. Therefore just be Muslim.’ They offer them a third way.”

Mr Seddiqzai sees it as part of his job to make his students more informed in their consumption of such appeals.

Earlier this year, when local politicians were discussing a ban on headscarves, a group calling itself Reality Islam launched a social media campaign to protest the proposal and recruit students. Mr Seddiqzai showed his students how to trace Reality’s Islam’s links to Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist group banned in Germany since 2003. He also encouraged them to question the group’s stance on the headscarf, which it claimed the Quran mandates for women.

“I show them the Quranic verses about the headscarf, and we discuss it and we see there is no clear rule that a woman or girl has to wear a headscarf,” he said. “Most of them think the Quran itself has no contradictions, and even that is wrong. There are many contradictions in the Quran.”

Some German politicians are pushing for an expansion of Islam classes in public schools as a way to encourage the cultural integration of Muslim students and to promote an interpretation of Islam that highlights German values.

“We need more religious education,” Kerstin Griese, a lawmaker from the governing centre-left Social Democratic Party, wrote in an op-ed, “because it’s the only way to start a dialogue about our own traditions and values and to understand those of others”.

Such advocates generally don’t envision non-Muslim students taking these classes to gain a better appreciation of Islam. While a few German school systems offer religion classes that include multiple faiths or ethics classes that touch on religion, religion as taught in public high schools and supported by Germany’s Basic Law is generally targeted at specific denominations.

A further rationale for Islam classes is to “immunise” Muslim students from fundamentalism, as Protestant leader Heinrich Bedford-Strohm put it.

Of particular concern is radicalisation that might lead to violence. Since 2013, more than 1,000 people have left Germany to fight with or support the Islamic State and other terrorist organisations, most of them under 30.

But some educators and politicians resist the notion that Islam has a place in German public schools.

“Besides the fact that we have much more important problems in schools, it can’t be true that a German bishop is promoting Islam,” Alexander Gauland, a leader of AfD, said after Bedford-Strohm voiced his proposal.

No studies have examined the effectiveness of Islam classes in preventing radicalisation, according to Harry Harun Behr, a professor of Islam studies and pedagogy at Frankfurt’s Goethe University.

Still, he said, the classes are valuable because they show students their faith is as important as others taught in their schools and because they show Islam as a religion that is open to reflection and self-criticism.

At Mr Seddiqzai’s school, where almost 95 per cent of students are first or second-generation immigrants, Islam class is highly popular. When he crosses the schoolyard, he can barely walk five steps without being stopped by a student wanting to tell him about grades, romances or plans for the future.

“What Mr. Seddiqzai is teaching me is not really something you learn at mosque,” said 17-year-old Yusuf Akar. “How to interact with non-Muslims who may not be sure how to interact with us. Or who are scared of us.”

But it is more than that, too. “It shows me I’m welcome here,” Akar said. “Because the school no longer demands that we distance ourselves from our religion. They accept it and even create an opportunity to learn about it. And that gives me the feeling that I’m part of this society.”