Posing the right questions may lead us to good answers. What are the challenges in education today in receiving newcomer children and families of migrants and refugees? What are the risks for fundamental rights we need to confront in view of the opportunities to seize and the benefits to reap?
With these words Mr Miltos Pavlou, Senior Programme Manager of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, encouraged participants at the Agency’s thematic session to discuss the role of inclusive education in response to the migrant crises across Europe.
The thematic session took place in the context of the Agency’s biannual meeting in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on 25 May, and was organised by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands and the European Agency under the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
After the opening remarks by Ms Jet Bussemaker, Minister for Education, Culture and Science, representatives from three schools in the Netherlands (Mundium College, Etty Hillesum Lyceum and ITK Haarlem) presented their strategies on how they respond to newcomer and/or refugee pupils. They all highlighted how learning the language of the host country is essential, as well as how important activities that encourage inclusion are, such as sports events with peers or excursions discovering the host country.
During the thematic session, participants had the opportunity to discuss the following five questions:
- Are there any relevant educational policy initiatives regarding the welcoming of newcomer (those who have arrived maximum one year ago) and/or refugee pupils? For example, is there specific legislation concerning the right of newcomers and refugee pupils to attend school?
- What financial support measures are provided to educational services and by which service?
- Are schools introducing any changes regarding the welcoming of newcomer and/or refugee pupils?
- How are educational programmes being delivered to the newcomer and/or refugee pupils?
- Is there any type of training being offered to the teachers who work with newcomer and/or refugee pupils?
Each country’s response in education to receiving newcomer and/or refugee pupils is crucial in facing the current and future challenges for education in a more inclusive and diverse European Union. Country representatives welcomed this Agency initiative where good practices were shared among participants as a result of the session.