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Promotion of Migrants in Science Education

Final Report Summary - PROMISE (Promotion of Migrants in Science Education)

The objective of the project PROMISE was to provide equal opportunities in science education and to foster the choice of science studies and careers of migrants. The work included:
1) promotion of talented migrant girls at university;
2) work of an interdisciplinary team consisting of science teachers, of experts of science-, intercultural- and language-education developing methods of intercultural science teaching in multilingual / multicultural classes and
3) developing principles for intercultural science teacher trainings.
There existed an intense cooperation and exchange between countries of origin and countries of residence.

The project included the direct promotion of talented migrant girls at universities by establishing Club Lise (named after Lise Meitner), an intercultural girls working group on topics of science, to promote the choice of science studies for migrant girls as they are the most underrepresented group in science. Clubs Lise were established at all partner universities. Considering very well the gender dimension in science as a male-dominated field, the girls worked together with female scientists and science students with background of migration as role models for their own science careers. Club Lise includes laboratory work, visits of lectures and intense international cooperation of all clubs on certain topics of science. The idea is that the young students get prepared for work in international working groups as this is common in scientific research groups at university. All clubs meet once a year at Club Lise international organised by one of the partner universities.

To effect indirect promotion of migrants in science education, PROMISE teams consisting of teachers and education scientists worked in cooperation with experts of migration, language and intercultural research in order to develop methods and best practices in intercultural science education considering the linguistic and cultural diversity of classes. The focus of PROMISE teamwork laid on:
- investigating the barriers (e.g. language and communication, social and cultural background) that hamper migrants when learning science;
investigating the teachers' difficulties when teaching science in classes of cultural diversity by interviews and monitoring.

The PROMISE teamwork includes intense cooperation of countries of origin (Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina) and countries of residence (Germany, Austria) by establishing an international network of universities and schools of the four partner countries. Due to nationally diverse methods in science teaching and even differences in the content of the national science education plans it is supposed, that those children who change their country of residence face specific difficulties in learning science. Further, it is supposed that a harmonisation of the different science education systems will lower barriers, which hamper the changing into a different education system. The number of female science students is much higher in Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina than in Austria and Germany. But obviously this interest is not shared by their country fellows in their new countries of residence like Germany and Austria. Even the number of German and Austrian girls choosing science careers is lower than the number of girls in Turkey or Bosnia-Herzegovina. Some of the reasons for this effect were investigated. However, it is such a wide and multilayered issue that final conclusions cannot be drawn yet. As harmonisation of science education we understand:
- respecting the cultural diversities;
- identifying the commonalities;
- learning from each other the good practices in science teaching;
- detecting elements which are contra-productive to a successful intercultural education and contra productive to motivate girls; and
- creating together methods for successful intercultural science lessons.

To establish a long term promotion of migrants basic principles for intercultural science education was developed. Based on these principles specific teacher trainings shall be institutionalised. Annual PROMISE conferences where all partners present and discuss their work, provide the opportunity to invite and discuss suggestions for science education with school authorities.

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