On 25 September SOLIDAR Foundation organised a round table discussion in the European Parliament to present and discuss policy recommendations developed in the Framework of the VINCE project.
The invited experts, as well as representatives of the European institutions (European Commission, European Parliament and European Economic and Social Committee), had the opportunity to contribute to the final draft of the policy recommendations before they are sent to MEPs.
To develop the recommendations the consortium worked with the following facts:
Background: The number of refugees and migrants who reach Europe, escaping from wars or critical life conditions and looking for new life opportunities, has increased dramatically in recent years.
Challenges: Newcomers face many challenges in settling into Europe, and among these are the obstacles to continuing their studies or accessing the labour market.
Barriers: Newcomers are often prevented from enjoying their rights by many legal and practical barriers.
SOLUTION: Validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNIL) could be a solution for newcomers.
The policy recommendations focused on effective solutions that need to be adopted by both policymakers as well as higher education institutions in order to effectively implement the validation process that would be quick and comprehensive for the newcomers. The participants agreed that to ensure inclusive learning societies based on the fundamental values of solidarity, equality, participation and social justice, we need to address the austerity measures across Europe. Social investment is needed to give all people opportunities to develop and to cooperate as free and equal individuals within collective frameworks. Therefore, there is a need to ensure financial resources and a sustainable structure for Europe-wide cooperation among all stakeholders, who must participate in policymaking to ensure social investment in education.
The ultimate objectives of VNIL processes for newcomers are (a) to give to these individuals a chance to integrate in our society, (b) to speed up processes and (c) to prepare VNIL professionals to address new challenges and unknown situations. Understanding of these points and agreement on their importance by policymakers at European, national and institutional levels, is key to their effective implementation. A strong and consistent lobby is needed top-down in this sense. But equally powerful advocacy is essential bottom-up through NGOs and organisations that in most of the countries are facilitating the reception and orientation of newcomers. Social investment in sustainable structures is necessary through both EU and national budgets. The training of professionals from higher education institutions as well as social workers attending migrants is key to enabling newcomers to enter our higher education systems as well as promoting their personal development and integration.
Finally, the discussion made an important contribution to the Final Symposium in Barcelona that may be the last step in this project but will be one of the many steps to make the validation in Europe reality.