Martin Henry in Bremen
Martin Henry in Bremen

Europe: educators unite for refugee children

published 28 November 2017 updated 1 December 2017

Teachers in Germany and Spain are facilitating the integration of refugee children through the classroom, and now have clear demands for policymakers.

Two studies on the integration of refugee children through education were launched simultaneously yesterday in Bremen (Germany) and Madrid (Spain), showcasing the coordinated effort and determination of educators in Europe to stand up for those who need it most.

Coordinated by Education International (EI) and its local affiliates GEW and FECCOO in Germany and Spain, the reports look into the situation of refugee children and unaccompanied minors when it comes to their enrolment in and adaptation to their host countries’ school systems.

Education International’s Martin Henry highlighted in Bremen that an aligned strategy, in tune with the Refugee Convention of 1951 and the EU Reception Directive of 2013 were the right way to go in order to ensure the protection and integration of refugees.

In Spain, EI’s Dominique Marlet made a pledge for more and better funding of education systems – especially for those responsible for educating refugees. She underlined that teachers were often left alone to face the challenges posed by new students who needed individual attention and praised the participating unions for having created the necessary fabric to support their members.

Taking the case to the EU

The demands that EI and its affiliates are going to raise with European policymakers cover both funding and support, but also include that:

  • all countries should accept refugees and unaccompanied minors into their schools, with all having immediate access to the full range of educational and social support such as mental health programmes;
  • state funded language integration programmes;
  • pedagogical support: 2nd language learner pedagogy and team teaching;
  • mother tongue support provided for students;
  • global citizenship education should be included in all national curricula (along the OECD 2030 and EU guidelines);
  • cross departmental teams established on refugee and migrant education;
  • extra-curricular activities mixing the newly arrived with local students using the school as a hub;
  • the renegotiation of the Dublin regulation so that refugees are not trapped or driven underground by movement legislation

The German report can be downloaded here.

The Spanish report (in Spanish) can be downloaded here. The English version is available here.