Access to education and training for children with migrant background is not sufficient if it is not combined with quality education and learning which meets students’ learning needs and aspiration, concludes the Eurydice report on “Integrating Students from Migrant Backgrounds into Schools in Europe: National Policies and Measures” published on 17 January 2019. The report offers a comparative analysis of the policies and measures on integration of migrant students in education in 42 education systems (in 28 EU member states), including such areas as access to education, language, learning and psycho-social support, and support for teachers and school heads. The analysis coveres primary to upper secondary education as well as vocational education and training.

The report highlights that even though, in the majority of education systems in Europe, access to education is provided for children with migrant backgrounds and intercultural education is integrated to some extend in the national curricula, policies and measures on learning support tend to focus on students’ academic rather than their social and emotional needs (‘whole-child approach’). Moreover, according to the report, an initial and continued assessment of migrant students’ educational progress is not widely carried out and mainly focuses on the language of instruction. Other challenges emphasised in the study include unpreparedness of teachers to work in culturally diverse classrooms due to the lack of teacher training on these topics, migrant students whose home language differs from the language of instruction not having a right to study their home language at school, and lack of support provided for teachers and school heads (for example, providing teaching assistants and intercultural mediators). Among countries having good strategies for integrating migrant students in education, the report names Germany and Austria for a strong emphasis on diversity, Spain (Comunidad Autonoma de Cataluña), Portugal and Slovenia for a successful approach to the whole-child approach, and Finland and Sweden for keeping both the diversity dimension and the whole-child approach.

ETUCE welcomes the conclusions of the Eurydice report and its focus on the importance of intercultural education and whole-child approach. However, ETUCE also notes that specific top-level strategies for integrating migrant students into schools are not enough if they are not combined with sustainable public funds allocated to education, provision of relevant training and support for education personnel and school heads and ensuring a comprehensive approach to education which responds to learning, social and emotional needs of every student. Currently, ETUCE together with its project partners EFEE and ESHA is carrying out the EU CONVINCE project analysing the challenges of the intercultural education and whole-school approach and collecting successful solutions. On 5 March 2019, a training workshop in the framework of CONVINCE project takes place in Paris and focuses on “The whole-school approach as a tool to prevent radicalisation and extremism”.

To read ETUCE’s statement on ‘Refugees & Education: Human Rights for All, 2015’, please click here.