My niece immigrated to join her mother in Australia while in middle school. Every time I speak to her on the phone, she tells me how easy her curricular material is. She is at the top of her class in math and science. It’s so easy it verges on boring. “Because,” she says, “it’s all really difficult in Pakistan.”
You might have thought otherwise. After all, those Pakistanis speak English as a second language. Surely that should make them dumb. Except then you move to Australia –. All right, no jabs at Australian English here. I will refrain. But I am generally upset for my niece. In Pakistan, private schooling – even for the frugal middle-middle classes – is competitive. Parents struggle to get their children prepared for global academic competition. And then they end up in the global school, and someone takes a look at them, listens to them speak English with an accent, and says, “Off you go, back to a grade lower than what you’ve already completed.”
Why can’t her teachers make an honest and accurate estimate of her academic preparation and place her appropriately? As it is, she will be wasting time in her grade because they placed her behind. Not just that – she’s coasting, barely trying, not challenged, bored by the ease of school-work, waiting to move up the next grade. I am afraid that this will affect her academic future because she is not being challenged. And it’s already been over a year in Australia.
Is it because the teachers assumed that she was from Pakistan and that surely she would *struggle*? Or is it because she spoke English as a second language and that determined her academic placement?
I’m guessing this is a matter of White first-world nation judging brown immigrant from developing nation. It is sad when educational professionals become the instrument of Empire. But why should they be any different.