Belgium: “Black flight” from primary schools
30 August 2011
“The children of middle class migrants are fleeing mixed schools in massive numbers,” reports De Morgen. According to the Brussels daily, the exodus has been prompted by “Moroccans who do not want their children in the same class as East Europeans.” For Antwerp University professor Paul Mahieu, who studies segregation in primary education, schools are faced with a “black flight” that is comparable to the more well known phenomenon of “white flight,” in which parents from the indigenous population withdraw their children from schools with a large proportion of students from foreign backgrounds.
“The flight mechanism” is triggered when the threshold of 30% students from foreign backgrounds is exceeded, and this threshold is 50% for the parents of allochtoons,” explains Paul Mahieu. The researcher believes that the issue is first and foremost a psychological one, because “parents are convinced that teaching is of a higher standard in schools with a high proportion of students from the indigenous population.” He further warns that the phenomenon of flight from schools, which is set to continue, could contribute to social problems. For its part, De Morgen argues that “diversity” in schools does not necessarily amount to a problem. “If we believe that education should act as a driving force in social mobility, schools with a socio-economic mix will continue to be necessary."