Swiss teachers expect too little of migrant children: study

A new study shows that teachers are failing school students with a migrant background by expecting too little of them.

Swiss teachers expect too little of migrant children: study
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“Those who demand too little of children, demand less and less of them,” said Markus Neuenschwander, author of the SCALA study, which was carried out by University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern's (FHNW).

One of the most surprising findings of the study was that teachers had lower expectations of students with a migrant background even when it came to mathematics, where there is no real different in terms of results achieved compared to students without that background.

Read also: Swiss primary school adopts 'simplified German' to communicate with parents

In German classes, where a difference in results could be expected, teachers’ expectations of migrant children were even lower.

Neuenschwander said the survey-based results meant a vicious circle: teachers' prejudices were confirmed.

“The difference in performance between migrants and non-migrants gets larger during their school career,” he told Swiss weekly NZZ am Sonntag.

The study’s also results confirm the findings of research carried out overseas.

“Lower expectations lead to lower performance,” said University of Zurich education researcher Katharina Maag.

For Neuenschwander, the results of the study are clear: teachers need further education designed to question their preconceptions of migrant children.

“Most of them are not aware that they have prejudices,” he said.

A study of 15,000 students published late last year showed children of immigrants in Switzerland are more likely to fail when they start senior high school or vocational training because their parents don't know the Swiss system very well.

According to the study undertaken by the universities of Zurich and Bern, a huge 46 percent of teens born to immigrant parents fall behind after age 15. Either they drop out of continuing education, are forced to retake a year or take a gap year. That compares with just 31 percent of children born to Swiss parents.

Read also: Politician offers kids 2,000 Swiss sausages after outcry over pork-free lunch

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Covid-19: Switzerland to allow children over 12 to be vaccinated without parental consent

From mid-July, Switzerland will start vaccinating children against coronavirus, with the government confirming that parental consent to vaccinate is not necessary.

Covid-19: Switzerland to allow children over 12 to be vaccinated without parental consent
Children can be vaccinated from the age of 12 in Switzerland from mid-July. Photo: MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Switzerland has confirmed that it will extend its vaccination program to people aged 12 and above from mid-July. 

Previously, cantons vaccinated only from the age of 16 and up. 

READ MORE: When will Switzerland start vaccinating children?

Vaccinations of children are considered to be essential to the Swiss inoculation strategy, which aims to reach herd immunity in the population. 

“We are doing everything in our power to ensure that vaccination is also accessible for children and adolescents as soon as possible”, said Anne Lévy, director of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Vaccinations of people between the ages of 12 and 17 will be carried out with the Biontech/Pfizer vaccine. 

Switzerland’s other approved vaccine, that from Moderna, is currently not approved for those under 18 although the company has applied for approval. 

Do parents need to consent for their children to be vaccinated? 

No. Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset confirmed to parliament that parental consent is not required in order for children to be vaccinated. 

While some parents, particularly those who are sceptical about vaccines, may be dismayed by the decision, the position is valid in Swiss law. 

READ MORE: How to register for the coronavirus vaccine in your Swiss canton

Berset said minors from the age of 12 and up were “largely capable of judgement” and therefore can make their own decisions with regard to vaccinations, provided they are mentally healthy and conscious. 

Where a child from the age of 12 satisfies this standard “no parental or legal guardian consent is required”.

Parents are only allowed to have a say on whether their child gets vaccinated if the child is incapacitated or otherwise unable to make the decision. 

“Only if a child or a young person is incapable of judgment do the owners of parental authority have to give consent to the vaccination,” concludes Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health.