Many children are actively and positively engaged in creating their lives and future for themselves – probably more than we are willing to admit – but they soon become bounded by what adults think is their best interests. In this regard, the project highlights that the existing social and political order does not offer enough autonomous space where children could independently speak for themselves. Our aim in this regard is to create ‘a space’ where migrant children of all ages are able to communicate and share their experiences after arriving in receiving societies. The proposed project embarks on a mission to gather their stories in order to support their needs and aspirations when it comes to integration into host societies, with an aim to make heard the voices of the least powerful members of communities, as an argument and factor for change. Our basic standpoint is that child-centered integration policies, integration programmes, practices and initiatives are among most important factors to support migrant children to become partners and participants in the development of a cohesive societies, with equal opportunities and secured rights as individuals, but also as members of minority and migrant groups in different spheres (education, labour market, housing, civil society, etc.).
The overall objective of the project is to stimulate inclusion of diverse groups of migrant children by adopting child-centered approach to migrant children integration on educational and policy level. The project starts from the fact that European countries and their education systems encounter manifold challenges due to growing ethnic, cultural, linguistic diversity and thereby our specific objectives are:
- to improve knowledge about children’s experiences of life in new social environments
- to explore school peer dynamics in view of the integration process
- to build on the capacity of teachers and educational staff for diversity managing
- to develop child-centered tools for stimulating migrant integration
- to design child-centered integration policy recommendations for diverse decision-makers
To Improve Knowledge about Children’s Experiences of Life in New Social Environments
Our objective is to gather migrant children’s experiences related to different stages in the integration processes (newly arrived and long-term residents) and different institutional settings (asylum homes, hotspots, refugee camps, schools). Doing child-centred fieldwork with children will improve our understanding of children’s experiences of a life in new social and cultural environments related to the arrival and staying in host societies. It will offer a new insight into the conceptualizations of well-being and needs and help us to understand the the dynamics of integration in relation to educational systems, peer groups, sport, leisure activities and classroom dynamics, psychosocial support services.
To get an insight into school peer dynamics in view of the integration process
Project’s specific objective is to examine the impact of local children on the integration of migrant children and to give an insight into peer dynamics among local and migrant children. Our aim is not only to identify the potential of local children as a factor in processes of migrant children’s integration, but also to compare indicators of social inclusion and thereby evaluate the level of success in integration, especially by comparing migrant and local children in view of family dynamics, cultural identity, leisure activities, relations with peers, future ambitions, classroom dynamics, gender and religion dimensions, etc.
To build on the capacity of teachers and educational staff for diversity managing
Project’s objective is to build on capacity, educational and awareness raising of teachers and educational staff, and for professionals and other adults who come into regular contact with children to better assess risks and meet the specific needs of migrant children in host societies. In this manner the project will contribute to the mutual learning and capacity-building of teachers, who will then be better equipped with the knowledge about their students that is necessary for further development of good solutions and best practices in line with children’s needs when it comes to managing ethnic diversity in schools.
To develop child-centred tools for stimulating migrant integration
The proposed project has an objective to overcome integration challenges. For this purpose, Work package 10: Integration Lab is foreseen with an aim to develop new tools and, where possible, to advance effective practices used in schools by teachers for motivating migrant children’s integration and raising awareness and tolerance among local children. This is vital, especially in the light of the call that gives weight not only to mapping integration challenges but, more importantly, to winning them. Having this in mind, special precautions have been taken to avoid the project results becoming end in themselves.
To design child-centred integration policy recommendations for diverse decision-makers
Creating a child-centred integration policy as a specific objective will involve forming policy that puts the focus on the child while looking at how specific measures respond and impact migrant children’s needs and at the same time acknowledges their well-being. Knowing that policy-makers have been criticized for being excessively selective, merely choosing from those components of expertise that fit their problem definitions, on the one hand, and that researchers have been challenged for being unable to reflect critically on their own problem definitions due to their engagement with policy on the other hand, the project confronts child-centred approach with integration and policy.
General cross-disciplinary analysis of scientific literature and data sets overview will provide in-depth overview of the general theoretical work regarding the integration of migrant children in schools and of the methodological approaches used in empirical studies carried out in this field. The project we will thereafter undertake the examination of reception communities in Slovenia, Austria, Spain, UK, Denmark and Poland focusing particularly on policy analysis, analysis of a range of secondary (administrative) data and review of political, media and general public discourse.
The research activities on educational staff and school systems as well as newly arrived migrants, long-term residents and local children will be conducted in schools in Slovenia, Denmark, Spain, United Kingdom, Austria and Poland. Along with fieldwork with children in schools, fieldwork with children in transition will take place in camps and institutions in Palermo (Italy), Calais (France), Moria (Greece), Şanlıurfa (Turkey), Linin Reception Camp (Poland), asylum homes in Slovenia and Austria. More than 550 migrant children will take part in the research activities of the MiCreate project. The conclusions of crosscutting analysis and findings from the fieldwork with teachers, local and migrant children will provide a base for policy recommendations and development of integration tools through the activities of Integration Lab.
The Integration Labs will be established in participating countries to develop IC tools software, while the content of the tools will be defined after the first results and findings from the fieldwork with children is available to be incorporated. Children’s Advisory Boards on local level will be established to provide advice and help researchers with development of IC tools and diversity management practices. Based on revised methods and activities we will thereafter compose “teacher’s manual” in a form of a toolkit, which will include:
- digital storytelling application
- awareness raising IC tool
- guide for teachers introducing multicultural education and diversity management
- guide for teachers including methods for solving inter-ethnic conflicts in school environment
- guide for teachers consisting of art-based approach practices and measures for promoting inclusion
- guide for teachers explaining indicators of migrant’s conceptualisation of well-being
- collection of best practices of multiculturality through organisation of everyday school life.
We will continue with intense dissemination activities campaigns in Slovenia, Austria, Denmark, United Kingdom, Poland and Spain and with assistance of NGOs also in Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Lithuania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, Portugal, Netherlands, Latvia and Slovakia. In the concluding period, we will organize events to promote and present policy recommendations, toolkit for teachers, project’s results and findings.
General Coordination Team
- Mateja Sedmak, PhD Academic Coordinator (Science and Research Centre Koper)
- Barbara Gornik, PhD Academic Co-Coordinator (Science and Research Centre Koper)
- Barbara Pandev, Project Coordination Manager (Science and Research Centre Koper)
- Anna Marie Schurmann Carstens (The National Council for Children, Denmark)
- Aydin Tunc, MSc (Vienna Administration, section “Diversity and Integration”, Austria)
- Birgit Leyendecker, PhD, Ruhr – University Bochum, Germany)
- Jenny Patterson (Manchester City Council, UK)
- Maria Peix Batet (Metropolitan area of Barcelona, Spain)
- Maria Zuber (European Commission DG HOME)
- Roberta Lo Bianco (CESIE, Italy)
- Stanka Lunder Verlič, PhD (Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, Slovenia)
- Wojciech Sadownik (Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, Poland)
- Zeynep Yanasmayan, PhD (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany)
- Mateja Sedmak, PhD (Science and Research Centre Koper)
- Barbara Gornik PhD (Science and Research Centre Koper)
- Zorana Medarić, MSc (Science and Research Centre Koper)
- Shoba Arun, PhD (The Manchester Metropolitan University
- Gro Hellesdatter Jacobsen, PhD (University of Southern Denmark)
- Fernando Hernández, PhD (University of Barcelona)
- Juana M. Sancho, PhD (University of Barcelona)
- Achilles Kameas, PhD (Hellenic Open University)
- Jakub Kościółek, PhD (Stowarzyszenie Interkulturalni Pl)
- Birgit Sauer, PhD (University of Vienna)
- Ayse Dursun, PhD (University of Vienna)
- Vlasta Jalušič, PhD (Peace Institute)
- Noemi de Luca (CESIE)
- Annalisa Lendaro, PhD (The French National Centre for Scientific Research)