07 SES 09 A, Inclusion of Newcomers and Refugees Part 3
Paper Session continued from 07 SES 06 A, to be continued in 07 SES 11 A
Within the complex migratory phenomenon, Unaccompanied and Separated Children (UASC) present peculiar characteristics, which is necessary to know in order to guarantee full inclusion in the host society. Compared to other types of migrants, UASC present particular needs, which must be accepted and respected, in order to guarantee the access to a positive and autonomy-oriented growth, developing a complex and intercultural identity.
The increasing attention paid to UASC is also justified by the fact that, in recent years, their presence within migratory flows has become more substantial.
This phenomenon needs special attention, since it presents several aspects of risk: generally the majority of UASC are aged between 15 and 17 years (UNICEF), so it is necessary to plan “for” and “together with” them effective educational paths, with a view to the imminent achievement of age; a serious risk they run is to fall victim to trafficking and exploitation; finally, a large number of UASC are never identified or lost. The risk these kids face is that of a precarious future, which can bring new losses, hardships and adversity.
In this situation of uncertainty, their main educational need is to be helped in carrying out a series of tasks that characterize their evolutionary phase and their condition, in order to gradually acquire a fuller and more conscious autonomy. The ability to be resilient, to get involved, to take responsibility for their future on the one hand, and the support of the community on the other can be important factors to be taken into consideration, in order to accompany their life paths.
In the current context of hostility towards refugees across many European countries, may inclusive and intercultural education be crucial for the cultivation of social justice? How?
How educational services and practices may encourage the satisfaction of UASC developmental needs, the protection of their rights and their agency?
Which approaches and practices can be effective for promoting a renewed culture of social inclusion, enhancing the active role of communities?
- developing new practices in mainstream education for UASC, more corresponding to the specific needs of minors and at the same time significant to enhance communities
- identifying a possible holistic approach that creates and implements durable solutions for UASC and promotes new conditions of equitable co-existence (according to Europe 2020 objectives)
UASC are vulnerable and isolated, separated and lacking the protection of their family network. They live a daily exposure to the risk of social unease, especially in hostile and not very welcoming contexts. In order to allow them to reconstruct their own history and a life project, it is important to value personal resources and factors of resilience. At the same time, however, it is necessary to integrate this educational approach with other practices, aimed at connecting and re-establishing ties, memberships and relationships. All this implies an important educational work aimed at the community, promoting new forms of coexistence and the fight against exclusion, through the enhancement of resources and relationships.
Accordingly, the intercultural education should involve a reflective stance not only towards aims related to issues of (im)migration and language learning, but also diversity and social justice, developing new practices of community commitment.
This research is inspired by an inclusive intercultural perspective on education and aims to investigate the Never Alone project. The project is focused on the construction of a new welcome culture, that allows to create social cohesion and sense of belonging. For this reason, the project works in two directions: the promotion of UASC autonomy and the empowerment of the territorial community. In this way, Never Alone stands as a pilot project for the creation of an innovative widespread welfare system, which can be at the service of UASC, but at the same time of the entire community. We focus on an experience, in many ways unique, of inclusion and welcome above all, but also of professionalism. The project has in fact led to the creation of a wide network of professionals, able to guarantee a multidisciplinary approach and to implement the coherence between the actions put in place at every level of the inclusion process. The project also provides specific training paths for the involved operators. From the methodological point of view, therefore, the contribution wants to detect the quality elements of the pedagogical framework towards the project. Because of this complexity and innovation, the project requires and deserves to be explored with a complex approach, able to go deep. For this reason the methodological approach is that of qualitative research, in particular of grounded research (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). An initial data collection tool is the analysis of project documents and the outputs contained in interim reports and evaluation documents. Findings are based on semi-structured interviews and focus group meetings with three different sample types: UASC, operators; citizens involved in the project. Regarding the focus design, we use the topic guide method (Krueger, 1998). Group meetings are also held with the UASC, using visual techniques for the qualitative research (Lazarsfeld,1972; Marshall and Rossman, 1999; Morgan, 1993; Stewart and Shamdasani, 1990). This kind of methods let the people involved in the focus group express experiences and opinions/meanings that are conveyed by the choice or the creation of photographs. The use of an imaginative/visual language could lend itself positively in order to bring out the experiences of the children and their considerations on the social inclusion practices. Allowing children to express themselves is fundamental in order to "give word", within a path that intends to be fully inclusive and which aims to counter the risk of marginalization.
The first expected outcome is knowing and spreading new approaches concerning inclusive/intercultural education, with a specific reference to Unaccompanied Children, in the perspective of reparative and care responses that are more effective and responsive to the nature of their needs and psychosocial characteristics. Another expected outcome is to provide research data that allow to understand the intercultural challenge as an opportunity to activate "human capital" of communities, generating mutual respect and agency. A final outcome is that of re-humanizing inclusive practices, trying to foster a culture of solidarity and social inclusion, resisting the culture of fear, discrimination, opposition, exclusion, through the empowerment and commitment of community relational networks.
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