On 14-15 March 2019 SOLIDAR participated in the Seminar on the inclusion of migrants and refugee learners in education organised by ETUCE-EFEE in Copenhagen. During the meeting we presented some of the work of our members to support the inclusion of migrants such as informal education activities with the support of volunteers (the Volunteering Matters programme); the holistic support offered to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees offered by Movimento por La Paz, the language courses organised by IDC and IB; and also our advocacy for the validation and recognition of migrants’ qualifications and the focus on upskilling pathways.
The Seminar was part of the two-year project “European Sectoral Social Partners in education promoting effective integration of migrants and refugees in education” led by ETUCE and EFEE to ensuresuccessful social dialogue to address the inclusion of migrants and refugees in education systems. The project aims to promote successful methods of migrants’ education in schools as well as evaluating current policy and practices, which will result in a concrete set of proposals and recommendations for national organisations and governments.
During the meeting education practitioners and representatives from social partners of the education sector discussedthe topic with the support of input from experts such as Sogol Noorani from EACEA, who presented the findings of the Eurydice Brief: Integrating Students from Migrant Backgrounds into Schools in Europe: National Policies and Measures; and Professor Nihad Bunar from Stockholm University who presented the preliminary recommendations of the project. SOLIDAR representing the voice of CSOs, brought to the discussion some of our members‘ experiences and practices and was joined by the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, PICUM, that presented the findings of several publications and policy recommendations on protecting undocumented children’s right to education and regularisations for children and youth; the European Students’ Union, ESU, presenting the Together, Moving Forward work, the European Parents’ Association, EPA, presenting ParentHelp, a parents' compass that holds useful information on various countries about access to the education system; as well as the European Trade Union Confederation ETUC presenting the Multi-stakeholder Labour-INT.
Among the many issues raised participants discussed the need to diversify solutions, as migrants arrive in Europe at different stages of their lives. Migrant children have a different status, but there are also several aspects that affect the education of children, such as their economic and social status. Some solutions can be found in changing the pedagogical approach and education system to address the needs of these children, for example valuing their native language, teaching it in schools and valuing it as a tool to teach at the beginning while the children learn the majority language of the host country. The focus should not only be on policy, but also on the attitudes of the educators, as well as on the availability of funding and resources. The main point highlighted by the meeting is that to build inclusive societies it is necessary to continue social and civic dialogue between all the different stakeholders such as parents, unions, student organisations CSOs and migrant groups.
The project foresees a final conference that will endorse the Joint Practical Guidelines and Quality Framework for an effective inclusion of migrant and refugee leaners in education and will take place in Brussels on 14-15 October 2019.