Discussion Details

EPALE discussion: Learning to live together

As part of our May focus, EPALE is organising a written discussion on the role and challenges of migrant education in helping migrants to integrate in their host country, and how adult learning can foster tolerance and cultural understanding. The discussion will take place on this page on 11 June from 10:00 CEST to 16:00 CEST and will be moderated by EPALE Thematic Coordinator and EAEA Secretary-General Gina Ebner. Don’t miss the opportunity to share your views and experiences with the EPALE community!

May Discussion Migrant education.


As part of our May focus, EPALE is organising a written discussion on the role and challenges of migrant education in helping migrants to integrate in their host country, and how adult learning can foster tolerance and cultural understanding.

The discussion will take place on this page on 11 June from 10:00 CEST to 16:00 CEST and will be moderated by EPALE Thematic Coordinator and EAEA Secretary-General Gina EbnerDon’t miss the opportunity to share your views and experiences with the EPALE community on any of the following topics:


10:00-11:50 CEST

Cultural components: How is cultural learning for migrants offered and funded in your country? What does it involve and what are the challenges? How effective are introductory courses?

12:05-13:55 CEST

Intercultural learning: How can adult learning bring people together? Where does intercultural learning take place? What are the pitfalls?

14:10-16:00 CEST

Xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiments: What can adult education actively do to combat xenophobia and raise civic awareness?


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Themes addressed


Hi, thank you for bringing up the theme. I just want to let you know that there is much to do in the Czech Republic as well. Studies show that there is not enough information about the adult education and also the fact that the foreignes often don´t speak Czech (and many Czechs still don´t speak English), there is a wide gap, which we must close. One of the good practises I want to share with you is a network of the  Centres for Support of Integration of Foreigners,which operates in almost all regions in the Czech Republic. The Centers are administred by the REFUGEE FACILITIES ADMINISTRATION OF THE MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR. They main activities are legal counselling, Czech language courses, Socio-cultural courses and public activities. I happened to work in one of them during my master mandatory intership and I had chance event to speak to some of the course participants. They find it very useful, however, not everybody from the community had been able to attend - mainly due to work hours but I came accross gender- based argument  that wife (of one particular participant) doesn´t have to come because she is the "house wife". I think this is something we must also take into a consideration when encouraging the foreigners to take part in the courses and look actively for some solution in order to bring, in this case, woman, into a learning process.
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Dear all,

 we're happy to share with you some information about the Eu funded Project Digital Welcome (http://digitalwelcome.eu/).

Digital Welcome is a European project, started in October 2017 and funded with support from the European Commission (AMIF), devised by partner organisations from Belgium, Greece, Spain, Italy and Germany and coordinated by ALL DIGITAL, Belgium.

The aim of the Digital Welcome Program is to generate an exchange of best practices between organizations specialized in the digital inclusion of disadvantaged target groups, to develop and pilot (in a two-tier development process) an innovative approach to cultivate social inclusion of third-country nationals in educational and social activities, in cultural life, in the voluntary sector and in digital creation activities.

During the Digital Welcome Program, an innovative methodology for a creative IT course will be developed and tested. The goal is to train young immigrants as digital mentors, who will then be involved as volunteers and will organize computer labs for their peers and other interested users, share their skills and demonstrate their potential for inclusion in the local community.

During the piloting, which will be implemented in each partner’s country by October 2018, 120 young people from third countries aged between 16 and 30 will participate in the program and improve their IT, language and relational skills through creative computer labs.

An integral part of the program is also the production of digital stories, which will give them the opportunity to reflect on the training experience and share it with their peers, to motivate them to participate in educational, social and cultural activities, thus facilitating the process of integration and developing skills and competences necessary for entering the world of work.

 The piloting is developed on the basis of peer learning and divided into four modules: digital storytelling, coding, digital journalism and soft skills and employability awareness.

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Dear all,

Thank you so much for the excellent discussion! We apologize again for the postponement of the discussion. Due to technical difficulties just before the original date, most people couldn’t access or post on the site. We therefore decided to move the discussion to a new date so that everyone would be able to participate.  

Nevertheless, we hope that you’ve found the contributions enriching – I certainly have! If you’ve missed (parts of) the discussion, then you can still go ahead and post, the site will still be open for comments.

Thank you and I hope we’ll talk again soon!
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Thank you very much, Gina, for moderating this discussion and thank you all for taking part and sharing your views. We hope that it has been as useful and interesting for you as it was to us to follow this lively discussion. Stay tuned on EPALE for our next discussion coming in September.
RumenEPALE Central Support Service
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Hi Gina,

A stimulating exchange today. Three thoughts it has prompted in me have been:

We need to counter mis-understandings about cultural stereotypes – but cultures are complex and in a word of limited characters on twitter etc we probably need to practice being short, pithy and factual!

-       Adult education’s part of this needs the local practical actions but does it need to be part of lifelong learning as a whole to be 100% effective

-       Local actions need to be unintimidating and possibly embrace many cultures at the same time.  I guess this is where simple, common activities between communities can be very effective …?

Andrew, EPALE Thematic Coordinator

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Thanks for bringing in lifelong learning as a precondition for successful cultural learning, couldn't agree more!
I keep thinking about your sentence of cultures being complex - are we still underestimating this? We tend to understand our own cultures differences, but what about others? I've been studying English for decades now but I still run into class signposts that I find utterly baffling ... and it took me ages to recognise them as you don't speak about them openly!
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Xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiments: What can adult education actively do to combat xenophobia and raise civic awareness?
At CRAICNI we have set up as a social enterprise to give diverse members of the communities, 'migrants' ad those with intercultural experience in skills in training and education the opportunity to train others and promote cultural awareness.  This has worked well, where over 80% of participants have never spoken to anyone from a diverse background, know about their cultures, backgrounds, countries of origin and their issues living, working and studying in the host country. 
Some positive examples of cultural competency have been found in our work in delivering, 'Supporting Children with English as an additional language,' to childcare practitioners. When we work with student social workers, we feel we give value to their existing degree course and placements with external training with us working in conjunction with their work placement management body and support raising cultural awareness and an appreciation of cultural sensitivity.  The first step to cultural competency is studying cultural awareness, whether these are the unseen areas, such as attitudes, opinions, upbringing etc or the visible areas, music, arts, language, cuisine even etc that diverse members can be the adult educators, trainers, facilitators to tackle racism and xenophobia.  As an ethnic minority myself and along with my team, we wish to encourage more people to enjoy learning about other cultures, reach understanding and respect of differences for a safer and welcoming society.  I would be interested to hear of other examples.
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I'm adding your website address for everyone interested: http://www.craicni.com/
You're raising a key point: there are many communities in Europe who haven't had many people from outside their communities. One of our Swedish members, Ibn Rushd, the muslim study association, worked with 'ambassadors' (young people who volunteered for this and received training). They would give talks in schools, communes etc about being a Muslim, telling people about their backgrounds. For many, this was a first experience.
Other examples would be very welcome!
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I believe in learning languages, the language of those who come and letting also them learn the language that we speak - lack of communication is at the root of all arguments, contradictions and problems that may appear. We need to promote the acquisition of the basic skills - among them languages! 
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I agree with Silvija's comments about the need for language development but I also think that there is a need to develop cultural understanding.  In England a new government funded project called Talk English started 2 or 3 years ago which aims to help people to improve their English and to get involved in their wider communities.  Volunteers are trained to become friends to those who are learning English.  They go out together to cafes, shops and local places of interest so that the learners can put their language skills into practice outside the classroom.  For more information visit the Talk English website www.talk-english.co.uk  
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To combat actively Xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiments and raise civic awareness, we must first strengthen its european cohesion
Before addressing the key issues, I would like to raise two points :
The question of the place of migrants in Europe is now being raised forcefully, given the 
current political situation in Italy, it seems to me. Before combating actively Xenophobia 
and anti-migrant sentiments and raise civic awareness, I would like to raise two points. 
If Europe is to take these migrations effectively into account,  This requires first of all 
true fiscal cohesion (no tax havens within the Union - see study by the international NGO Oxfam: 
Luxembourg, Ireland, Malta and the Netherlands, as a negative example) and a better distribution 
of migrants throughout the countries of the Union (Germany as a positive counter example - see source Eurostat). 
Great and urgent challenge ; only Europe can meet it ! Jean
My name is Jean Vanderspelden and I am one of the French thematic experts EPALE.  
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I do agree with you and you underline similar points as Katarina Popovic did in her blog post, where she pleads for a new enlightenment (/node/59510). You are connecting the global and European level with the very local one (as many anti-racist activities are actually happening there). Still - the challenges are huge!
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Dear Gina and Colleagues.
First abservation goes to congratulate all for this high participation. Certanly this will give lot of work to resume but it enriched very much our views. As i.m not experienced and well acquainted with this subject please accept my contribute as an interest for this important topic for all our Future.
Recently i participate in a Seminar in Lisbon promoted for our National Education Council (28th may). The seminar humbled the tittle "Education for All: the invisibles, the discriminate and the others". I took some highilights to share:
1. The main "nó górdio" seems to be on the access of this students to higher education. Recently our Republic President @Universia Universities in Salamanca proposed that a "quota" should be guarded for this students.
2. Another is the high rate on disapproval exams and early school leaving. This is critical for the one´s coming from countries ex-colonies of Portugal 
3. Incapacity of schools leaders to manage curriculum and needs for learning reinforcement areas within the rules and the legislation. Stiil the content learning is still the same for all and results measured by national examinations. Really what they measure as we all are aware only the knowledge on some disciplines like Mathematics, national language, sciences.
4. On this education environements and constraints for adults the learning process is clearely, than, a barrier only exceeded by great efforts and several leave the learning pathway.
Other arguments can be joined...
But----we are having some steps going on in good directions (it seems!, as we never know when working for the unknown...) ...
1. Education (i prefer LifeLong Learning as the desideratum...) is the (only) vehicle that seeems capable to bring solutions for the problems. We need to discuss Hard if Education is only an Area concerning member states.
2. Respect the anonimous heroes that in our schools (i prefer learning contexts) are keeping evenless very good learning standards (invisible working that we have to discover and premium)
3. The learning contexts that we use (also virtual...and have to emphasize that informal learning is mainly achieved by this process)must regard interoperability between schools/learning centers.
4. Go deeply on curricula flexibility and open to autonomous schools that work with association contracts at all levels. We need all working together for this cause. Be aware of the investment in education, specially in areas like Artificial Intelligence and Robots, for the six biggest worlwide corporations. They invest more than any other national budget.
5. Finally to deepen the articulation of the Education Systems with the society at local level.
6. Work diversity of people origins as a strategic potential to use in EU learning contexts.
Thanks for sharing and read your thoughts and reflections. 
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You raise some very important points that are very valid for migrants learning and the topic we're discussing today. From the flexibility of the offer to the diversity of the people, this is all very relevant. And I really like the point about the anonymous heroes and heroines working in education - we don't celebrate them enough!
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Welcome to the third part of our discussion! This will be on how adult education can fight against xenophobia. I tried to summarise some possibilities in my blog post earlier in May (/en/blog/fighting-xenophobia-what-can-adult-education-do), and Ronnad has posted an excellent example (Show racism the red card) earlier today. Do you know of other examples? What can we do?
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Gina, thanks for the tips, they are certainly very much needed and applicable.

What I would recommend - when we speak about the discussion about anti-immigrant tempers - is fairness. Why fairness?


Well, so far, we have been observing two sides in the discussion (and also the information campaign). One side with arguments ranging from scepticism to xenophobia and the other side trying to counter the hysteria with approaches ranging from naivity to sophisticated arguments, often right in their perspective, but with little impact on the target audience from the previous group. Thus, we have too often witnessed a debate where emotions – rather than arguments – played the key role and there has usually been very little chance any of the group changed their strong convictions. Mostly, it was an example of affirmative behavior on both sides where arguments could not get through the wall…


Only at certain moments, the wall could be broken. And some of the circumstances of those cases were very peculiar, indeed. One example of what happened in my country, the Czech Republic: a famous Czech pop-star (I will not name him), known for his anti-immigrant and nationalistic views published a photograph on social media with him standing in a circle with his Afghan Muslim friends and shaking hands. He also wrote that these are among his dearest friends and that he will support them. The outcome? What the liberal media and information campaign could not achieve when targeting the skeptical-to-xenophobic part of the Czech society (which is a large majority of the population here), he could do it within seconds. Tens of thousands of people, largely from the target group, reacted to this. Many blamed him for treason. Others doubted. And some have changed their approaches, at least partly. Well, it came from a very unexpected source for sure.


What we need is fairness in discussion. We need to openly address the fears and risks (because there are always risks and threats). In educating, we need to talk the pluses and minuses. And to be humble. If you start the debate with possible risks and threats, rather than repeating only the positives, you have an advantage and you can start bringing down the wall.


Hope it not spoil the party J



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Let me play devil's advocate for a moment: Do you think we can fight xenophobia (and people's fear of the other) completely based on facts? What about personal meetings / intercultural set-ups where you can meet 'the other'? What about other strategies that promote empathy?
Do you have any experiences with that?
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This is a good question. Well, if you we are able to bring personal meetings or intercultural set-ups, this is one of the strongest tools for a discussion and mental-changing process. The problem with these is often the fact that it is extremely difficult to get the target audience to these meetings. Many of those are often on the social outskirts of our societies. Many of those feel socially and ecomomically neglected - and they will hardly listen. If you get them there, you almost won the race. But it rarely happens. In many cases,  such events are visited by people who already have a compassion and are listening - not the target audience.
For the target audience - when we speak about scepticism-to-xenophobic part of the society - some other strategy of discussion is needed. At least this has been my observation.
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Currently, we are running a pilot study for a project titled "Maltese Culture for Foreigners". We have created an online platform with short video clips and animated questions including a quiz exploiting online visual audio communication. The objective is to educate immigrants from the cultural aspect integrating also cultural mores related to their country of origin with the aim of social integration to reduce racism behavior and facilitate communication. After meeting with the persons involved in the pilot project and explained what is about the feedback wasn't what we were expecting. Most of these persons weren't really interested in learning but they asked what they are going to gain after 
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The effectiveness of these introductory cultural learning courses are affected by the fact that no translators accompany the teachers in their courses. The teachers initially teach in French or English, depending on which language is understood most by the pupils of that class. Often with the help of one of the students, together with the teacher they translate the essence of the course from English or French into their native languages.


During the 120-hour French lessons, some cultural facts are explained: famous Luxembourgish people, Luxembourgish monuments, Luxembourgish traditional food…

Nevertheless, as the migrants usually only achieve the level A1.1, their understanding of what is taught remains quite low.

In the French courses I taught, I explained the behavior of shaking hands, the French/Belgian/Luxembourgish habit of “faire la bise”, the difference between “tu” and “vous”, arriving on time for the course… All this I have included in “cultural education” within teaching the French language. (Françoise Chotro)

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So what are possible pitfalls of intercultural learning? Is it the one-way street of some courses? Is it the difficulty of 'culture'? Is it individual vs society? Should we, as Tino mentioned earlier, talk with migrants rather than about them?
Any comments, feedback?
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I think it is very important to talk with migrants : to learn their needs , to learn the satisfaction of the courses. More over - it is very important to talk with migrants to facilitate their motivation to learn the language of the country they have arrived, to learn the culture, ways of communication ,but at the same time we have to respect their culture, traditions.
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I agree totally - we should talk with migrants rather than about them. I hope, one of the way of talking with migrants can be cultural mediators. This experience we got in Italy. The role and activities of cultural mediators were new for us.It seems, that adult educators could be cultural mediators in some sense. But only in some sense, because the true cultural mediator has to have a very good knowledge (and not only knowledge) of the two cultures, between he/she mediates.  Examples of Italian colleagues show that this is an extremely complex activity.
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Working with migrants in Lithuania will be a real challenge for adult educators. We understood this during the training course in Italy (Erasmus+ mobility project).

What was the effect of the training?

We have got a deeper understanding of the very essence of migration. We have developed a completely different "portrait" of a migrant (refugee, asylum seeker) than we had until now: there are not a migrant in general. Every migrant is an individual person, who needs to work individually. We now believe that, even if we have intercultural work experience, mostly it will be not sufficient for the work with the people with migratory biography, especially if we meet the people of "distant" cultures.

 We also realized that the goal of adult educators is to prepare the whole society to meet the people of different cultures.

Living together is not enough to teach a migrant Lithuanian language and history. Integration is unfinished process and the role of the community in it is extremely important.

The sustainability of the project is to transfer the acquired perceptions to Lithuanian adult educators.

For this purpose we prepare the material "To meet a person, not a culture", where we share our insights and experiences from mobility visit.

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Dear all,
I would like to share with you what we are experiencing with S.CO.RE. project an ERASMUS + KA2 strategic partnership aimed at better supporting refugees integration at both societal and labour market level, by improving the competences of social and health workers working with them. What we found as common need in the different countries involved (Spain, Italy, Greece, Denmark) is a more qualified and specific response to psycological and health related needs of refugees and asylum seekers. It seems there is a lack/reduced investment in this kind of competences for those workers involved in supporting refugees reception and integration, who are mostly required to give an immediate response to basic needs. Although of course this is very important, the efficacy of the overall reception/support system is at risk, whether psycological and emotional issues are not taken into consideration and adequuately supported. We are happy to share with you feedbacks and opinions about this issue.
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It is very good that we are discussing different projects, but it would be  interesting to  hear how effective were these projects, what are their sustainability. It happens very often that the project ends and the activities end as well.
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If adult learning is organized as learning for adults ,  not as for school children, then of course it brings people together, they become more open minded , willing to learn. Mutual trust is of great importance in adult education. It is important to keep in mind that adults have their  personal experience , that can be good or bad.For adult educator it is very important to be without prejudices against different immigrants.
Intercultural learning takes place even in the streets, but we discuss such cases rearly.
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Hello Everyone,

I am Ronnad Baot Murphy from NSS Ireland.

In advance of this afternoon's discussion on xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiments, I am sharing an example of a cause which aims to combat xenophobia and to raise civic awareness: Show Racism the Red Card –  an anti-racist charity now present in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The charity produces anti-racist educational resources which help to tackle racism. Their resources include videos, educational packs, factsheets, downloadable interactive resources, and online training modules, which are all used to tackle racism. They develop programmes which can impact to tackle racism and promote integration. 

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Dear Gina,you're welcome.We would also like to mention the article "The CORE project - building on strengths and encouraging involvement" about a Vienna-based project providing support to people who have just arrived in Vienna.In the article you can also find information about the current situation in Austria, including numbers of asylum applications and how the adult education sector has had to adapt to the new situation.Kind regards,EPALE Austria team
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