Race, Identity and Education Achievements of Arab-Australian Students
Dr Fethi Mansouri.
This paper will discuss the management of cultural diversity in Australian schools focusing on key structural and ideological factors affecting Arabic-Speaking background (ASB) students' educational experiences and outcomes.
Recent research indicates that there are complex processes at play that hinder non-English-speaking background (NESB) students' abilities to access constructive and meaningful education, and that such processes need further systematic investigation.
More importantly, it has been argued that Australian schools are failing the test of equity and that the dominant approach to curriculum do not meet the needs of the growing numbers of students from divergent cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.
This study will, therefore, seek to identify the cultural, attitudinal and identity factors that facilitate or hinder the educational access of Arabic-speaking background (ASB) students. It will test and develop a multidimensional approach to understanding
ASB students' experiences of secondary education. By linking thorough empirical research and innovative theory with practical, tested plans of action, this study aims to develop a sustainable approach to culturally diverse education that is flexible enough to be applied across a variety of multicultural schooling contexts. It will do this by examining the educational experiences of Arab-Australian students as an illustrative case study. The key research questions to be explored in this paper can be summarised as follows:
1. How do ASB students, as a minority group, view their educational experiences?
2. To what extent do ASB attitudes and values impact upon their school achievements?
3. Are schools equipped (in terms of ideologies and structures) to address NESB students' educational and social needs?
The study seeks to determine the type of link that may exist between issues of belonging, identity, perceptions of culture and citizenship on the one hand,
and educational outcomes on the other. It aims to develop a sustainable approach to managing cultural diversity which is applicable across a range of school contexts,
while retaining meaning as an active, practicable instrument for change.
Dr Fethi Mansouri (Australia)
Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern studies
School of Social & International Studies Faculty of of Arts
Dr Mansouri is a senior lecturer in Middle Eastern studies in the School of Social and International studies.
His research activities cut across community language education and culture studies.
He has contributed articles to national and international forums on issues related to foreign language pedagogy, multicultural education, refugee cultural rights, and Middle Eastern culture.
He has also conducted research on the role of community language in the preservation of cultural heritage.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)