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Multi-country Partnership to Enhance the Education of Refugee and Asylum-seeking Youth in Europe

Project description

Credits: AFP/The Economist

Credits: AFP/The Economist

The SIRIUS Network is establishing a partnership between seven countries to address inadequate access to quality education for asylum-seeking and refugee youth throughout the European Union.

The project is starting in January 2016 and is co-funded by the Mercator Foundation.

The recent drastic rise in asylum applicants has placed increased pressure on Member States to develop strategies for effectively integrating new arrivals into society. Research has shown that education is one of the most important paths to the structural integration of young asylum seekers and refugees because they have particular social and emotional needs that quality education can help them overcome.

Despite this need, there is currently insufficient understanding of the challenges that these youth face and inadequate transnational sharing of knowledge regarding potential solutions. For instance, the European Asylum Support Office – the primary EU Agency in charge of knowledge exchange in this field – does not (1) analyse the challenges that asylum-seeking and refugee youth face in accessing education, (2) facilitate the exchange of knowledge among the wide range of stakeholders involved in education nor (3) engage with stakeholders to encourage the implementation of policies that improve access to quality education.

The project will contribute to filling these three gaps in the participating countries in three main phases. In the first stage, each project partner will conduct desk research and field work within their country. The field work will consist of interviews with and participatory observations in reception classes and schools of four groups of refugee and asylum seeking youth inside and outside of education: (1) those who arrived less than two months prior to the start of the project, (2) those who arrived two to twelve months prior, (3) those who arrived at least twelve months prior and (4) unaccompanied minors. Field work will also consist of interviews/focus groups with stakeholders such as government agencies, NGOs, school administrators, teachers, social workers and parents. Partners will also make connections with government agencies and NGOs, which will facilitate this field work. The resulting analysis will identify challenges that youth face, find good practices in addressing those challenges and provide an overview of the interaction between the profile of each education system (with a focus on primary and secondary education) and the migrants within it. In the second stage, each partner will hold a stakeholder meeting in their country, which will enable a wide variety of stakeholders of each participating country to exchange knowledge and experience regarding refugee education. These meetings will contribute to the development of policy and practice recommendations and indicators to track the adoption and implementation of the recommendations. In the final stage, partners will develop a final report and conduct transnational dissemination and good practice exchange meetings.

This project will benefit each participating country – including Germany – in four main ways: (1) by providing an analysis of the particular challenges that asylum-seeking and refugee youth face in each country, (2) by offering policy and practice recommendations specifically tailored to improving the situation for them in each country, (3) by drawing on the experiences of stakeholders throughout Europe to provide insights into potential methods for improving the access to high quality education for asylum-seeking and refugee youth and (4) engaging with stakeholders in each country to encourage the adoption and implementation of policies and practices that improve access to high quality education.

Project team

The project team:

  • The coordinator is the european forum for migration studies (efms)

The partners represent six of the top ten countries of destination for asylum seekers in Europe (according to Eurostat 2014) and one border country and posses a wide range of experiences in the field of migrant education:

  • Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies (CeMIS) at the University of Antwerp in Belgium
  • Fryshuset in Sweden
  • Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom
  • Verikom in Hamburg, Germany
  • Risbo at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands
  • Multi Kulti Collective in Bulgaria
  • University of Pécs in Hungary