About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN19 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 5232-5239
ISBN: 978-84-09-12031-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2019.1288
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
Our paper presents the results of a research conducted with teachers who have to manage cultural diversity in classes welcoming young migrants who entered the Belgian territory for less than one year. In French-speaking Belgium, young refugees, stateless persons or nationals of a developing country who are under 18 years of age, are enrolled in "bridging classes". These transitional classes are organized by a decree of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation since 2012: they are intended to take pupils, generally for a period ranging from 6 to 12 months (exceptionally 18), in a referral class where French is intensively taught. The aim of this educational policy is to quickly integrate the newcomer pupils into ordinary primary or secondary school curricula, in order to ensure the right to basic education for all, regardless of social or linguistic conditions, religious beliefs, ethnic or national origins. Since 2015, the evolution of migration dynamics ("European migratory crisis") has led schools to welcome new immigrant children. School stakeholders have thus to manage an unprecedented and increasing cultural heterogeneity of the pupil population. Achieving the constitutional goal of school and social inclusion has become more complex for teachers. It is therefore essential that they acquire "intercultural skills", which are currently not enough developed in their initial training programme. Teachers cannot fulfill the human mission they were given if they are not professionally prepared for it (Akkari, 2002, 2009; Arnesen et al., 2010; Manço, 2010; OECD, 2015; Tardif & Mujawamariya, 2002).

During our study, we met 30 teachers working in this bridging classes in order to better understand their vision of the cultural diversity management in schools and to assess how they perceived their own level of intercultural competence (in reference to the framework defined by the Council of Europe, 2010) and their sense of self-efficacy, in relation to their available pedagogical resources. We collected data through two questionnaires and a semi-structured interview. Our results show that these teachers are compelled to manage the pupils’ diversity in a pragmatic way, believing that they are not professionally trained to do it. The experience, however, strengthens their self-efficacy (global mean of 77.67%) but they feel less competent in the different clusters of diversity management (knowledge and understanding: 63,61 %; communication and relationships: 68,22 %; management and teaching: 66,00 %). They therefore seem to base the effectiveness of their pedagogical action on their ability to respond to the diversity of pupils’ needs by individual adaptation of their practices (lessons, assessments, personal relations...) and to manage social relations within the classroom by creating a climate of respect between pupils from different backgrounds. They finally recommend diverse improvements that would enable them to promote school inclusion in the longer term, to feel more effective in their welcoming mission, and to ensure better opportunities for newcomer pupils to be empowered through education.
Cultural Diversity, Migrations, Newcomer Pupils, School Inclusion, Bridging Classes.