Inclusion of refugee students in Europe : (Round table)
Catherine Mendonça Dias
Summary, in English
European countries have been receiving refugee children for decades with a recent peak in 2015/2016 (Crul 2017). Although the number of refugees currently arriving in Europe must be seen in proportion to the much higher percentage of refugees that remain in states outside European borders (Dryden-Peterson 2016), the inclusion of refugee children is perceived as a major challenge by policy makers and practitioners in many European countries.There are several issues to be addressed: Some of them concern the practical inclusion of refugee children within the educational system i.e. school arrangements, reception classes or mainstream schooling, checking of the background of prior education, building the relationship between families and school actors whereas others apply to pedagogical fields i.e. additional intercultural training for teachers or political/communal stakeholders, housing arrangements, financial funding (Koehler 2017). The main challenge however lies in the development of educational concepts and policies that are well coordinated and highly effective in terms of promoting the potentials and future perspectives of refugee children and youth to avoid that they will become “a lost generation” (Crul 2017).Within the construction of such concepts and policies it is important to focus on the provision of equal access to compulsory education regardless of status of residency and on equal educational opportunities instead of exclusion. Access to schooling, acquisition of the national language, integration into mainstream education and vocational training can be seen as “core goals“ regarding the continuity of learning (Huddleston & Wolffhardt 2016). To enable the children to (re)activate all their possible resources and potentials it is furthermore relevant to recognize their family languages as a valuable resource (Siarova & Essomba 2014).The panel discussion aims to shed light on policies and concepts for the inclusion of refugee children in different European countries. As a first step the participants will give a short statement (max. 10 minutes) on current developments, challenges and strategies in their country. A focus should be placed on both existing concepts and improvement approaches. Afterwards there will be room for discussion on these concepts in a comparative perspective (30 minutes). Existing differences among different national perspectives based on e.g. geographical position, political situation and educational systems will be taken into consideration while possible starting points for joint concepts in the future might be discussed as well: Which aspects should be included in a coordinated concept on the European level concerning the participation of refugee children in different fields of the education? Are there elements from national concepts which could serve as examples of “best practice” to be considered? What might be the added value of a coordinated concept in comparison to national solutions? Which steps should be taken for developing and imposing such a concept?ReferencesCrul, M. (2017). Refugee children in education in Europe: How to prevent a lost generation? (SIRIUS Network Policy Brief Series), Issue No.7. Dryden-Petterson, S. (2016). Refugee education in countries of first asylum: Breaking open the black box of pre-settlement experiences. Theory and Research in Education, 14(2), 131-148. Huddleston, T., & Wolffhardt, A. (2016). Back to School: Responding to the needs of newcomer refugee youth. Koehler, C. (2017). Continuity of learning for newly arrived refugee children in Europe. (NESET II ad hoc question No. 1). Siarova, H., & Essomba, M. A. (2014). Language Support for Youth with a Migrant Background: Policies that Effectively Promote Inclusion. (SIRIUS Network Policy Brief Series), Issue No. 4.
ChairEmre Arslan (emre [dot] arslan [at] uni-koeln [dot] de), University of Cologne, Germany; Fenna tom Dieck (f [dot] tomdieck [at] uni-koeln [dot] de), University of Cologne, Germany