In the first half of 2019, more than 290,000 applications for international protection have been received within the EU+ (meaning 28 EU member states plus Norway and Switzerland), with a particular increase in applications from Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and El Salvador, reports the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

Education and training play a key role in ensuring a smooth integration of new arrivals to the society and labour market of the host countries. A recently published OECD report ‘The Road to Integration: Education and Migration’ suggests eight policy pillars for the education systems to support the newcomers. Furthermore, for each pillar, the report details a set of principles driving the design and implementation of system-level policies and school-level practices.

The proposed policy pillars include:

  • Considering the heterogeneity of immigrant populations and addressing the unique needs of refugee students;
  • Developing approaches to promote the overall well-being of immigrants and organising resources to reduce the influence of socio-economic status on the outcomes of immigrant students;
  • Providing comprehensive language support and building the capacity of teachers to deal with diversity;
  • Identifying innovative ways to catering the learning needs of immigrants and promoting positive public attitudes towards migration.

ETUCE welcomes the report’s recommendations and underlines that the support to teachers, school leaders and other education personnel in handling diversity, controversial and sensitive issues in the classroom, and providing inclusive education, is a crucial element ‘on the integration road’ of migrants. It is one of the major conclusions of the Research ReportChallenges and good practices related to promoting citizenship and values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education’ prepared in the framework of the EU CONVINCE project, a joint ETUCE, European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE), and European School Heads Association (ESHA) initiative.

ETUCE also believes that the full commitment of all stakeholders in education is necessary to provide structured and sustainable high quality education to all children, regardless of their migration status. Therefore, European education social partners are closely cooperating with the view to find common solutions to improve access to education, the educational experience and outcomes of migrant and refugee children, in the framework of the joint projectEuropean Sectoral Social Partners in Education promoting effective integration of migrants and refugees in education’. The major outcome of this project, ETUCE-EFEE Joint Practical Guidelines on how to promote effective integration of migrant and refugee learners in the education and socio-economic environment of the host countries through joint social partner initiatives at national, regional and local level, are to be presented at the project final conference, on 14-15 October 2019, in Brussels.