This week Eurydice (a network consisting of national units located in European countries, co-ordinated by the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency) has published a report which lists the key data on teaching languages at school in Europe, 2017 edition. Among the many topics covered, the report looks at the language support provided by European countries for newly arrived migrant students. Since the beginning of the year the SOLIDAR Foundation has been involved in a three year project on ‘Validation for Inclusion of New Citizens of Europe’ (VINCE).
SOLIDAR Foundation is convinced that the process of validation of prior learning helps to bridge educational inequalities, and offers further learning pathways. In our understanding the recognition of skills, competences and knowledge of newcomers is crucial to support their integration into society, the labour market and (higher) education. We therefore consider it to be encouraging that the measure has found its way to the integration debate.
With the expectation that the number of migrants and refugees coming to Europe will continue to rise over the next few years, the European Commission has realised that education has a crucial role to play when it comes to helping migrants and refugees find their way in their new country and environment. Education is considered as part of the integration process, ranging from language learning to the recognition or validation of their qualifications.
The Eurydice report shows most European countries attempt to integrate newly arrived migrants by letting them participate in the mainstream school classes corresponding to their age while providing them with additional language support. About 30 percent of the schools test the language skills of the newly arrived students and less than half of the schools provide separate intensive language classes to prepare the newly arrived for a rapid transfer to the mainstream classes.
The VINCE project aims at developing university staff training in Validation of Prior Learning (VPL) adapting the existing methods to the needs of the newly arrived migrants and refugees, to assure a smooth transition into Higher Education (HE), which supports the main objective of easing the integration of migrants and refugees into European society.