The 2016-2017 school year is getting to its term and with it, the activities planned within the project called "The weight of my backpack" are being developed successfully in the two educational centers of the neighborhood of La Salud in Badalona. The objective of FECCOO is to develop a series of activities aimed at creating optimal school environments that are conducive to the integration of all children and accommodate all migrants, displaced persons and refugees.

For example, the workshop on linguistic competences and on developing reading skills led to a story-telling one-day marathon, held at the CEIP Josep Carner during which children’s mothers were invited to take part by sharing experiences and stories from around the world in their mother tongue: Arabic, Russian, Urdu, Portuguese, Chinese, ...etc.

Throughout the project, all students had access to illustrated albums dealing with themes related to refuge, war, travel, exile and arrival, which has been crucial to help them reflect on these themes and share their emotions and feelings.

In parallel, work is continuing with the Teachers' Resource Center of the Generalitat de Catalunya, to offer teachers from all educational centers of the municipality the course "Schools: a welcome place, Books: a refuge to live in" that is mobilizing hundreds of students and teachers.

According to the report “A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migration Route”, as of September 2016, 256,000 migrants had been identified in Libya.  11% were women and 9% were children. The “Central Mediterranean Migration Route”  is one of the most dangerous journeys children can take when seeking refuge, travelling through Libya being one of the most difficult parts of it. Nevertheless, in 2016, more than 25,800 unaccompanied children took this route to be smuggled to Italy (p.3). 

With this study, UNICEF sampled 122 participants which consisted of 82 women and 40 children. Three quarters of the children interviewed experienced some type of violence by adults, almost half of the women interviewed reported sexual violence, most children and women said that they had to rely on the smugglers which made them vulnerable to abuse, abduction, and trafficking. Also, most of the children reported some type of abuse. Many children did not have access to adequate food during their journey. Women held in detention centers in Libya reported harsh conditions and most of the women and children said they spent more time in Libya to pay off their smugglers’ debt. 

The report also puts together stories of different migrants’ journeys to Libya. One of them came from a man named Timothee, who discusses the hardships he and his family had to go through: “Prior to the outbreak of the armed conflict and insecurity in the country, the two girls and the boy were enrolled in primary school and were enjoying their education with their schoolmates and teachers. The events that unfolded forced the whole family to change their plans. Suddenly, the children found themselves out of school and running for their lives with their parents. The children did not have access to education during the escape causing them to miss several years of schooling” (p. 11).  Timothee’s story shows how taking this type of journey puts everyone’s lives on pause. As a consequence, children are now behind in school and “deprived of their right to an education”. 

The report also tells the story of Kamis and Aza who are in detention in Libya. They came from Nigeria hoping for a better life but only found hardship. Kamis had aspirations to become a doctor, however, this was not possible with their lives back in Nigeria. Aza, Kamis’ mother, said: “Don’t worry. When we reach Italy, you will be a doctor” (p.9).  Anyone who makes this journey is looking for better perspectives but being put in detention in Libya acts as a roadblock to the place of opportunity.  Once again, Kamis is deprived of the right to an education.

UNICEF provides several policy recommendations concerning the Central Mediterranean Crisis, that not only applies to Libya, but also to neighboring countries, the African Union, the European Union, and international and national organizations. One of the six policy asks concerning uprooted children outlined in the report is to “Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to health and other quality services. An increased collective effort by governments, communities and the private sector is needed to provide education, health, shelter, nutrition, water and sanitation, and access to legal and psychosocial support for these children. A child’s migration status should never be a barrier to accessing essential services” (p.16).

As part of the response to teaching hundreds of thousands of newly arrived refugee children, the GEW has organised a series of workshops this year to support teachers and other education workers facing children with special psychological needs, such as trauma caused by the experience of war and the long journey to Europe.

The Hamburg psychologist Julia Fischer-Ortman has carried out workshops in Hamburg and Bremen as well as at the national GEW Education workshop in May at Walsrode, north of Hanover.

All refugees face significant physical and emotional pressures, but not all refugees are traumatised or will develop psychological problems. These practice-oriented workshops give a theoretical introduction to the topic and to behavioural problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorders.

The workshops are based upon a three-step approach for teachers facing these situations:

  • How do I recognise trauma?
  • What can I do when a child or a young person is made ill by the trauma?
  • When is psychotherapeutic help necessary?

More information (in German):

Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), EI affiliate and Scotland’s largest education trade union, has created a series of guides for teachers and lecturers on how to address myths of immigration in the classroom. The union made available three different guides depending on age range to provide support to teachers to understand the miscommunication and interpretation about immigration. Some of these myths include "we have loads of immigrants in the UK” and "people come to the UK because we’re a soft touch and give out loads of benefits; people just want free healthcare and free houses”. These guides were presented at the Scottish parliament and then sent to all nurseries, schools, colleges and universities. They’ve also been published on EIS’ website. The first guide is the “Early years myths of immigration” booklet, the second is the “Primary Myths of Immigration” booklet, and the third is the “Secondary Myths of Immigration” booklet. 

EIS’ president Margaret Smith stated "EIS welcomes and values a diverse and inclusive society, and we welcome refugees and asylum seekers to Scotland. We reject the demonisation of refugees and asylum seekers”.

The scope of the project called "My school is an intercultural world map in which we all learn better" is to develop teacher training activities, in order to improve the quality of day-to-day interactions with students from different cultural backgrounds.

The EI-supported project taking place at the Sansomendi IPI Educational Center in Vitoria, promotes the right to education for all migrant children, refugees, stateless persons and applicants for international protection, through training modules offered to the whole school staff. The course deals with brand new topics for teachers, such as the right to international protection, as enshrined in international law and current Spanish regulation, and its linkage with the right to education.

The training stimulated debate amongst teachers, highlighting the need to better know chidlren’s reality and day-to-day life, in order to address better the diverse needs of students and become aware of the potential transformative impact of teachers, educators, and other education workers.