International conference on integration of migrants through education, Sofia, Bulgaria


The conference was organised by Bulgarian Union of Teachers (SEB) and gathered representatives of education trade unions from many European countries, including ETUCE member organisations, such as F.E.CC.OO. (Spain), TUS (Serbia), SONK (FYROM), UIL Scuola (Italy),  OLME and DOE (Greece) and others. Among special guests were representatives from the Bulgarian government (Iliyana Yotova, Vice President of Republic of Bulgaria, and Nikolai Denkov, Minister of Education and Science), Plamen Dimitrov, President of Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB), Martin Rømer, Senior Consultant to the General Secretary of EI, and Susan Flocken, ETUCE European Director.

At this international conference, entitled “Road of the migrants - problems and solutions for integration through the educational systems” on 24 February 2017, participants of the conference discussed opportunities provided by the educational systems in their countries for integration of migrants into society, ensuring access to education and training for all. They also shared their concerns about existing problems in this respect, such as difficulties in recognition of competences and qualifications of migrants, lack of relevant teacher training and teaching materials, and language diversity.

In her presentation on challenges for education trade unions regarding integration and inclusion of migrants, Susan Flocken pointed out that trade unions should continuously include this topic in social dialogue and advocate for increased public funding to allow for appropriate infrastructure, education support staff, and teacher training. She welcomed the local initiatives carried out by ETUCE member organisations in the frame of the EI initiative “Realising the right to education of refugees” funded by the Open Society Fund to support local schools and trade unions in providing refugees with access to education and promoting schools, communities and municipalities that include and integrate refugees.