04 SES 13 B, Forced Migration and Inclusive Education: European perspectives on including forced migrants into teacher training, (non-)formal schooling and work Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 04 SES 16 B
Italy is currently one of the main gateways for the vast majority of unaccompanied and separated children arriving to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea (UNHCR, 2017; UNICEF-IOM, 2017). A wealth of studies emphasises that education is a protective factor for refugee children. Nevertheless, so far no long-term educational policies have been put in place in Italy with the aim of providing systematic inclusion in education for refugee youths. Until recently, formal education for asylum-seeking has been assimilated into the ordinary activities already aimed at first or second-generation migrant children, as the Italian approach to inclusion has traditionally been based on the accommodation of all children – regardless of disability or specific needs – in mainstream schools. Organising separate classes (for example offering preparatory linguistic courses to refugee children) is not devised within the normal school framework. So, whereas refugee children are not segregated in special schools or classes, due to teachers’ lack of preparation they are often excluded or marginalised inside the classroom, so undergoing a “second exile” experience (Dovigo, 2018). To reverse this trend, in 2015 the Ministry of Education launched a call asking schools to design programmes to ease refugee students’ inclusion by providing psychological support and courses in Italian as a second language. First outcomes from those projects stresses the need to design and test more regular and comprehensive initial learning and continuing professional development courses to improve teachers’ ability to deal with the complex tasks involved in refugee education (Koehler, 2017). This implies to create a course aiming at providing teachers with essential knowledge and skills required to work effectively with refugee-background children both at the primary and secondary school level. To this aim, we developed an experimental training programme at the University of Bergamo addressed to improve student teachers' skills in the field of refugee education as a part of their initial learning courses. The training was based on a holistic approach focused on supporting children’ participation and well-being throughout school and community, as well as the development of literacy and curriculum, including (but not limited to) the the provision of psychological support and second language learning (Pinson et al., 2010; Naidoo, 2013). The paper will offer empirical evidences and reflection stemming from the initial training experience developed with student teachers, so as to promote evaluation and further discussion of the project also in the light of similar contributions presented during the Symposium.
Dovigo, F. (Ed.) (2108), Challenges and opportunities in education for refugees in Europe: from research to good practices. Dordrecht, (NL): Sense Publisher. Koehler, C. (2017), Continuity of learning for newly arrived refugee children. In Europe, NESET II ad hoc question No. 1/2017, Available at: http://nesetweb.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Refugee-children.pdf [accessed 31 January 2017] Naidoo, L. (2013). Refugee Action Support: An interventionist pedagogy for supporting refugee students learning in Greater Western Sydney secondary schools. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(5), 449–461. Pinson, H., Arnot, M., and Candappa, M. (2010). Education, asylum and the 'non-citizen' child: the politics of compassion and belonging. Basingstoke: Palgrave. UNHCR (2017). Desperate Journeys; Refugees and migrants entering and crossing Europe via the Mediterranean and Western Balkans routes, August 2017, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/59ad23046.html [accessed 31 January 2017] UNICEF – IOM (2017). Harrowing Journeys. Children and youth on the move across the Mediterranean Sea, at risk of trafficking and exploitation. Available at: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Harrowing_Journeys_Children_and_youth_on_the_move_across_the_Mediterranean.pdf [accessed 31 January 2017]
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