The Casey Review on Opportunity and Integration: Re-inventing the Wheel

Posted by ap507 at Dec 12, 2016 11:40 AM |
Dr Leah Bassel from the School of Media, Communication and Sociology writes article for Discover Society

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Dr Leah Bassel from the School of Media, Communication and Sociology has written an article for Discover Society about Dame Louise Casey's ‘review into opportunity and integration’.

In the piece she writes: "The Casey review makes repeated reference to forms of abuse that are ‘swept under the carpet’ and labelled ‘cultural or religious practices’ by people often too afraid to speak otherwise for fear of being considered racists.  In contrast, she speaks boldly and extensively of Female Genital Mutilation, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour killings’.  But there is a resounding silence in this account of Muslim women as victims, failed citizens and parents. Experiences of Muslim women who try to become citizens, and who experience firsthand the inequalities embedded in the process, are in fact swept under the carpet with her proposal that a new and improved citizenship test can somehow act as a magic bullet to solve the ‘problem’ of integration. Some of these inequalities are quantifiable: the outcomes of the test process vary considerably, with pass rates by nationality ranging from over 96% (USA, Canada) to 44.3% (Bangladesh) between 2005-2010. Yet inequalities also become evident in examining migrant women’s experiences of preparing for the test.

"In my study with colleagues at the University of Leicester of migrants’ experiences of the citizenship test process, we explore the UK citizenship test process as a whole: deciding to enter the process, preparing, taking the test, the ceremony, and what follows. With respect to preparation in particular, we find that migrant women who actually try to become citizens and acquire knowledge of life in the UK and English language proficiency (when they do not already have it) face a situation where there is little state support of the ‘journey to citizenship’. The test process must be set in the context of the withdrawal of state support for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, the effects of which on migrant women have been documented by third sector organisations and denounced by ESOL activists and experts. Cameron’s pledge to support Muslim women to learn English and Casey’s very general recommendation to support ‘targeted English language provision’ do not acknowledge or take responsibility for the legacy of cuts to funding of ESOL which have contributed to social isolation and hindered some migrant women’s participation in the citizenship test process and public life more generally.  Instead culture and religion are the problem, and English language training and a new and improved citizenship test process the solution."

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