International Migrants Day: Having a migrant background is an asset, not an obstacle


On 18 December ETUCE celebrates migrants and refugees on the international day promoted by the United Nations. “Having a migrant background is an asset, not an obstacle” education trade unions remind while actively mobilising on this occasion with demonstrations, statements, action plans, calls to political authorities and communication campaigns to support teachers, academics and other education personnel with a migrant background and teachers working with migrant students. Trade unions’ national activities together with testimonies from teachers with a migrant background and teachers working with students from a migrant background are shared on the ETUCE website and social media in the framework of the project ‘Trade Unions and Inclusive Schools: Embracing Diversity in Education’. 

The European Commission Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion of migrants and people with a migrant background recognises the importance of having adequately trained and supported teachers for multicultural and multilingual classrooms. However, ETUCE regrets that the Plan lacks real new initiatives and misses concrete measures to include migrants and refugees in education and improve the access of teachers with a migrant background to employment in the education sector.  ETUCE urges for a coherent, unified, and clear European legislative framework on migrant integration and inclusion with a holistic vision of social inclusion to be implemented in dialogue with social partners. In its joint ETUCE-EFEE Proposal for a Quality Framework and  Practical Guidelines on the integration of migrants and refugees in education and society, ETUCE also stresses that migrant background of teachers and students is an asset and a vehicle for learning. To turn this into practice, an educational approach is needed that focuses on support-based inclusion and publicly funded professional support and training for teachers working with migrant students.

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This year, the COVID-19 pandemic and linked to it the switch to remote teaching and learning in many European countries have led to an aggravation of inequality and marginalisation of many migrants and refugees. ETUCE called for the protection of basic human rights of refugees and migrants such as access to health care, social support and education and training. After months in which schools had been closed, today, EI calls upon governments to assess the impact of schools’ lockdown on students, teachers and education personnel with a migrant background.

Commenting on the occasion, Susan Flocken, European Director said “Education is crucial for migrants’ social and economic integration and for the full development of their potential in our society. Nonetheless, an effective inclusive education system does not work without adequate public funding, a well-structured policy approach and strong professional support for teachers. The new Action Plan is only a starting point. As education social partners, we expect to be involved in the Action plan implementation and monitoring.”

Discover the Education Trade Unions's actions 

Read testimonies from teachers