Educational Integration of Refugees
A Classroom Approach
Within the EU there has been a very significant increase in the number of refugees. Many of these will need to be educated in our classrooms. Since the scale of this is new, the successful integration of these students into the classroom is of paramount importance. Teachers are rarely specifically trained to meet this challenge. Yet teachers need to be in a position to prepare these students for a successful life as European citizens and through this to increase social cohesion. Some educational institutions have well developed strategies to approach this challenge while others are just beginning to take up the mantle.
This two year European Union funded Erasmus+ KA201 project seeks to examine how schools and colleges have tackled the challenges brought by refugees in the past, to adopt and share best practice, look to find new strategies for successful integration of refugees and share the acquired knowledge widely within the teaching community. We need to empower teachers to continue developing their skills and competences in dealing with students in multicultural classrooms through a process of shared experiences and mutual support.
The difficulties facing refuges and those who support them as they progress along their learning pathway should not be underestimated. Many carry deep psychological scars from their previous experiences and find it difficult to adjust to the cultural norms of their host country. Educationally they often face the added challenge of having to learn a new language, in some cases even a new system of writing, and then to assimilate their learning through this foreign medium. Even those who have a good previous education may face the problem of not having their qualifications recognised in their host country and may see difference in curriculum and methodology that they find difficult.
Teachers working with refugees need to be conscious of their own cultural prejudice as well as the fears, frustrations and aspirations of the refugee students. They need to understand how the delivery of educational curriculum in Europe may differ from the norms of their new students and also be conscious of the ways in which cultural beliefs can influence learning.
In order to approach this issue in a structured form the project team:
1) Listen to the needs, concerns, difficulties encountered and general opinions of refugees currently in our institutes.
2) Examine strategies currently in place in each institute to support Refugees/asylum seekers to integrate successfully into the classroom and progress successfully along the learning pathway.
3) Adopt best practice from each institute and adapt these practices for use in each individual school/college.
4) Create new approaches/strategies to help refugees/asylum seekers to integrate successfully into the European Educational system.
5) Examine progression routes open to refugees.
6) Disseminate the project learning to as wide an educational audience as possible.
In doing this we strive to maintain a clear focus on the work of the teacher in the classroom and how the teacher can be empowered to better assist students who are refugees. Only through the empowerment of teachers in this area can we hope to truly enhance the individual students learning experience. We also recognize that methods learned by teachers here can also be applied to the education of other minority groups.
We envisage that the project will result in:
- The improvement of the pedagogical and didactic skills of the participating teachers.
- Professional enrichment for all project team members by means of exchange of good practices with the other schools/institutions
- Improvement of refugee and minority students’ school life and social life by applying in class new didactic strategies, methods and techniques.
This project is being coordinated by the Cork Education and Training Board, Ireland with the remaining partners being VHS Regen, Germany, I.T. Giordani-Strianoin, Italy, Esenler Ilce Milli Egitim Mudurlugu, Turkey and Inspectoratul Scolar Judetean Bacau, Romania.
Further project information is available on the project website.