Students with a refugee or migrant background often face difficulties in adjusting to a new learning environment.
Education and training practitioners can benefit from guidance and the sharing of good practices to be able to address the learning needs of students in increasingly diverse and multilingual classrooms.
Since 2016, the European Commission has supported EU Member States in their efforts to integrate migrants in their education and training systems - from early childhood education and care to higher education.
What is the EU doing to support the integration of refugees and migrants?
In November 2020, the Commission adopted an Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027, which promotes inclusion through a whole of society approach involving, among others, migrant and local communities, employers, civil society, as well as all levels of government. The Action Plan puts emphasis on the provision of targeted support at all stages of integration.
Although national governments are primarily responsible for creating and implementing social policies, the EU plays a key role in supporting Member States through funding, developing guidance and fostering relevant partnerships. One of the main actions is inclusive education and training, from early childhood to higher education, focusing on faster recognition of qualifications and language learning, with support from EU funds.
Mutual learning activities
To help with the integration of refugees and migrants, the Commission facilitates the exchange of good practices among EU Member States through mutual learning activities.
These activities also promote networking among policy-makers and allow them to better address current and future challenges.
Between 2016 and 2018, the following topics were discussed at dedicated Peer Learning Activities
- language assessment and the integration of unaccompanied minors through education
- reception of newly arrived migrants and the assessment of previous schooling
- recognition of refugees’ qualifications
- intercultural dialogue as a tool to address migration, refugees and asylum-seekers in educational contexts
- linguistic and cultural diversity
- integration policies for migrants - principles, challenges and practices
Furthermore, the Commission offers targeted expert advice through peer counselling to support policy reforms in Member States, for instance concerning the integration of newly arrived migrant students in schools.
Such events are organised upon the request of any of the Member States and involve policy-makers from other national administrations and independent experts, who are brought together to find solutions to national challenges in a participatory workshop.
Support through Erasmus+
Through the Erasmus+ programme, the Commission funds projects and other activities for the integration of migrants in all sectors of education and training.
Online support fostering integration
SIRIUS network on migrant education
The European Commission co-funds the SIRIUS network on migrant education. The network supports the education of children and young people with a migrant background through strategic activities on the national and international level, and along with migrants and refugees brings together researchers, policy-makers and practitioners in the field of migrant education.
School Education Gateway
The Erasmus+-funded School Education Gateway enables practitioners to exchange information, share materials (for example, articles and lesson plans) and to access services, such as online courses, on the topics of inclusion, cultural diversity and integrating newly arrived migrant students in classrooms.
The eTwinning platform connects schools all over Europe via ICT tools and offers the possibility for school leaders and staff to share their experiences and to offer mutual assistance.
Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support
The Commission has offered over 100,000 refugees and newly arrived migrants access to Online Linguistic Support. The initiative aims to help individuals integrate into their host society by providing the opportunity to learn the local language.
Massive Open Online Courses
The Commission has also commissioned a study that assesses the adequacy of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Free Digital Learning (FDL) for the inclusion of migrants and refugees.
A catalogue of selected initiatives – categorised by type and purpose – is available at MOOCs4inclusion.
Other support through Erasmus+
Strategic partnerships foster development of innovative educational practices and promote transnational cooperation.
The Erasmus+ programme also supports capacity-building in higher education in partner countries which are particularly affected by the consequences of migration.