“Educational tools for teachers and educators on how to foster social integration of refugees and migrants” was the theme of the online event organised by KMOP – Social Action and Innovation Centre within the European Erasmus+ project HOPEFUL – Extending Teachers Competences in the effective teaching of literacy, numeracy and digital skills to refugee children. During the event, which was the final conference of the project, the work done in the last two years was presented by the representatives of the partner countries participated in the programme.
HOPEFUL project aims to improve the performance of secondary school-aged refugee and migrant children who have remained outside the educational system for an extended period of time, as well as to reduce refugee and migrant pupils’ early school leaving in Malta, Greece, Italy and Cyprus. In particular, the project aspires to enhance secondary school teachers’ aptitude in teaching numeracy, literacy and digital skills to refugee and migrant children with learning gaps due to interrupted education and with minimal native or English language skills.
The event was attended by 80 people and it was moderated by Syrila Makarezou, Network Coordinator of KMOP. The purpose of the online meeting was to raise awareness about successful integration practices in education and to ensure HOPEFUL’ s results that exploited at the European level. Sabela Rubio Caamano, Leader of the project from SOS Malta, introduced the audience to the content of the project, making special reference to the refugee crisis and the conditions that refugee and immigrant children face in terms of education. Ms Caamano stressed the need for teachers to have the specific knowledge and tools in order to help effectively children with migrant background who tend to have lower educational performance than native children.
Giulia Siino, Project Manager of CESIE (Italy), presented a comparative study regarding the Educational community and school integration during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Almost all teachers in school communities said that it should be more focus on the quality of teaching than on the quantity” Ms. Siino demonstrates, adding that “inclusion should not only be referred to as something that is linked to students, but rather something that needs to be seen as ‘everybody’s problem’”. Similarly, Esperanza Martinez Ortiz, Leader of the project HOPEFUL from SOS Malta, presented the Hopeful Capacity Building Curriculum for Teachers. In addition to the Structure Methodology, Ms. Martinez Ortiz referred in detail to the main objectives of the Curriculum, as well as to the three Modules that make it up: i) Teambuilding, ii) Intercultural Dialogue, iii) Experience Sharing, Culture and Interculturality.
Ariadni Matraka, Project Manager from KMOP, focused on the key goal of HOPEFUL project, that is the development of an innovative diagnostic tool for the effective assessment of numeracy, literacy and digital competences, gaps and needs of refugee and migrant pupils. “The Booklets that have been developed in the Intellectual Output 2 involve the diagnostic tool created for secondary school teachers to support them in accurately assessing the numeracy, literacy and digital competences, gaps and needs of Lower and Upper Post Primary pupils with a refugee and/or migrant background” said Ms. Matraka. As she explained, it is expected that the accurate diagnostic assessment will allow teachers to identify gaps and misconceptions, differentiate learning needs and make informed decisions so as to address the actual needs of the pupils and assist them in bridging the gaps caused by interrupted education, thus, reducing the likelihood of early school leaving.
It is important to note that the two Booklets contain exercises that have been developed during the project, one for the Low Post Primary and another for Upper Post Primary. Since each country has a different education system, the exercises for assessing the aforementioned competences are not based on specific age clusters, but on two broader education stages of secondary education: Lower Post-Primary (for ages 12 to 15) and Upper Post-Primary (for ages 15 to 18). Moreover, all the material of the Curriculum and the Diagnostic Tools Outputs has been digitized so that more teachers can access it as it has been specially designed to support them in their daily work.
Irene Theodoulou, Project Manager & Researcher from CARDET (Cyprus) presented step by step the Online Platform for the training of teachers. Additionally, Elli Doufexi-Kaplani, Researcher of KMOP, described the phase of the research field, focusing on the needs of students and teachers that emerged from the research findings. For instance, as Ms. Kaplani explained, one of the teachers’ needs is to know and apply in daily practice methods and approaches that can support students in acquiring critical thinking skills, to approach complexity of reality in a critical way. From CSC Danilo Dolci (Italy), Project Manager Vidjaya Thelen focused on how technology and social inclusion are two concepts that accompany each other. Specifically, she explained that the use of microcontrollers and coding can promote the inclusion of immigrant and refugee children.
In his speech, Τhodoris Kostoulas, Academy Program Manager of Odyssea, focused on how vocational training can be the first step towards integration, analyzing how the specific non-profit organization based in Athens, Greece, contributes to this direction. Dr. Stephanos Spaneas from Migrant Information Center – MiHub (Cyprus) explained the migrant education in Cyprus, identifying two critical disadvantages: i) lack of education inclusive strategy for migrants and ii) lack of systematic scholarship system.
A few words about the project
HOPEFUL addresses current challenges & needs of enhancing teachers’ competences in the teaching of numeracy, literacy and digital skills to refugee and migrant students in order to promote their successful integration in education and improve their school performance, by developing, testing & disseminating different educational tools, using participatory methods collaborative process, that involve 4 partner organisations and 100 educators at local, national & EU level.
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