20 SES 03 JS, Discourses and Practices around Refugees, Migration, Interculturalism and Inclusion on Micro and Macro Levels; What Made Us Wiser and What Have We Learnt to Frame Future Research?
Joint Paper Session NW 20 and NW 23
An analysis of the current approach to interculturalism in education requires a specific focus on the case of asylum seekers and refugees. This is becoming a crucial issue in the European Union as a result of the increased number of arrivals of people fleeing the indiscriminate effects of persecution or generalized violence around the world. Their numbers have tripled moving from 431,000 in 2013 to 626,690 in 2014 and 1,322,825 in 2015 (Eurostat, 2016: tps00191).
Today in Europe, there are 4 million people who have been forced to leave their country of origin due to persecution, war or violations of human rights (UNHCR, 2015: 83).
The present contribution focuses on the inclusion of refugees in the European context, with special reference to the Italian context (where 93,715 refugees and 45,749 asylum seekers live). In fact, along with other southern or eastern European countries, such as Greece (with arrivals of asylum seekers across the Aegean Sea), Spain (in particular, through the Spanish cities Ceuta and Melilla on North Africa’s Mediterranean coast), Bulgaria (across the border with Turkey) and Hungary (across the border with Serbia), Italy is a critical area of arrival of asylum seekers across the Mediterranean Sea (181,000 in 2016).
The analysis of the inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees has been carried out by using the following research questions:
- RQ1. What are the main features of the inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees in Italy?
- RQ2. What are the most relevant educational strategies that have been adopted towards asylum seekers and refugees in the Italian context?
- RQ3. What are the innovative intercultural strategies adopted in the Italian context?
The theoretical framework of the analysis is formed by the studies on the perspective of ‘interculturalism’, concerning assuming diversity as a paradigm of education, not only providing strategies for integration of immigrants, but also promoting cultural pluralism for the whole population at all levels (welfare, education, politics). In this sense, ‘intercultural’ identifies a dynamic process of positive interaction between various identity groups of a society, calling for an inherent interdependence beyond static descriptions and recognition of differences (Gobbo, 2000; Leeman, 2002: 40; Gundara, 2003: 2; Smith, 2003: 185; Allemann-Ghionda, 2009: 135).
A critical analysis of the pathways of social inclusion for refugees in Italy first requires consideration of the vulnerability factors this group has in addition to those typical of other immigrants. The consequences of their traumatic violence and persecution experienced in their countries of origin or during the dangerous journey (resulting also in physical or mental disorders). Equally the lack of a migratory project; the absence of a family or national support network in the society of arrival; the deficiency of prior (linguistic, cultural, legal) knowledge about the context of arrival.
Analysing some key elements of Italian intercultural policies, this contribution highlights critical issues surrounding the inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees in the Italian context in which inadequate responses to the complex needs of this particularly vulnerable population have been shown.
Finally, some best educational practices addressed to asylum seekers and refugees in Italy are critically discussed.
Allemann-Ghionda, C., 2009. From intercultural education to the inclusion of diversity: Theories and policies in Europe. In J.A. Banks (Ed.) The Routledge International Companion to Multicultural Education (pp. 134-145), London: Routledge. Bonifazi, M., 2007. L’immigrazione straniera in Italia. Bologna: Il Mulino. Del Grande, G., 2014. Un cimitero chiamato Mediterraneo. Available from http://fortresseurope.blogspot.it [14 September 2016]. ECRE—European Council on Refugees and Exiles, 2005. The Way Forward: Towards the Integration of Refugees in Europe. Brussels. EMN—European Migration Network, 2011. Asylum and Migration Glossary. Rome: IDOS. Eurostat, 2016, Asylum statistics [tps00191], Brussels. Gobbo, F.,2000. Pedagogia interculturale. Il progetto educativo nelle società complesse. Rome: Carocci. Gundara, J. S., 2003. Intercultural education. World on the brink?. London: Institute of education, University of London. Italian Ministry of Education, 2007. La via italiana per la scuola interculturale e l'integrazione degli alunni stranieri. Rome. Lacroix, T. and Fiddian-Qasmiyeh E, 2013. Refugee and Diaspora Memories: The Politics of Remembering and Forgetting, Journal of Intercultural Studies, 34(6), 684-696. Leeman, Y., 2002. Multiculturalism, intercultural communication and education. In Koppen, J. K.; Lunt, I. and Wulf, C. (Eds.), Education in Europe. Cultures, values, institutions in transition (pp. 40-53). New York: Waxmann. Morrice, L., 2007. Lifelong Learning and the Social Integration of Refugees in the UK: The Significance of Social Capital. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 26(2), 155-172. Naidoo, L., 2015. Educating refugee-background students in Australian schools and universities. Intercultural Education, 26(3), 210-217. O'Donovan, T. and Sheikh, M., 2014. Welfare Reforms and the Refugee Resettlement Strategy: An Opportunity to Achieve Meaningful Employment Outcomes for New Zealanders from Refugee Backgrounds? Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 9(2), 82-88. O'Rourke, D., 2011. Closing pathways: refugee-background students and tertiary education, Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 6(1-2), 26-36. Perumal, J., 2015. Responding with hospitality: Refugee children in the South African education system, Education as Change, 19(3), 65-90. Sayad, A., 2004. The Suffering of the Immigrant. Malden, MA: Polity Press. SPRAR (System of Protection for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) Central Service, 2016. Rapporto annuale Sprar. Atlante Sprar 2015, Rome. Threadgold, T. and Court, G., 2005. Refugee Inclusion: A Literature Review. Cardiff: Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. UN—United Nations, 1951. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Available from http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html [14 September 2016]. UNHCR—United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2015. Global Trends. Forced Displacement in 2014, Geneva. Available from http://www.unhcr.org/556725e69.html [14 September 2016].
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