An important aspect of the Get Up and Goals (GUAG) conference, held in Vienna, was to give teachers and project workers the opportunity to share their experiences of integrating child refugees, and child asylum seekers into their communities, schools and classrooms.
A second aim was to encourage discussions on how to develop stimulating resources to support learners on the theme of economic migration and asylum seekers.
The keynote speaker Dr Neda Forghani-Arani from the University of Vienna gave a very thought provoking lecture about how teachers have to respond many times over a day to complicated classroom situations where issues about migration come up and positive and negative comments get made. In the year 2017 migration was at its highest level globally and in 2015 of 1.65 million people worldwide registering for asylum 1.3 million were in EU countries with fifty per cent of these being of school age. She talked about the ‘new normal’ where teachers have to support child migrants who are often vulnerable and frequently move schools. Teachers are trying to do their best and work with this situation usually with limited training or extra resources.
In many European classrooms teachers need to integrate children who have arrived from many different countries. They also work with young people who can have very strong views on this issue and these can be based on misinformation often arising from fake news, news bubbles and fact free politics. This can lead to stressful classroom tensions.
Developing supportive learning approaches that encourage students to have more accurate facts, hear real stories and get the chance to discuss difficult issues in a safe setting must be the way forward for teachers. Incorporating global learning into school curriculums can help teachers have access to a range of techniques and help develop classroom confidence when dealing with and supporting the ‘new normal’.
Jacquie Ayre, Global Learning Education Officer working on the Get up and Goals project at the Liverpool World Centre.