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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


Migrant Education Week Day 1: What’s your experience of delivering migrant education?

by EPALE Moderator

**This discussion is now closed. We'll be opening again tomorrow morning to discuss challenges and obstacles to migrant education. Find tomorrow's discussion in the link below.**

The current migration crisis has emphasised the vital role of adult education in supporting the integration and skills development of migrants across the European Union.

In our three-day discussion, we’ll be talking about:

In this thread we’ll be talking about delivery – what are your experiences and what have you found to be effective? We want to hear about your views on different types of learning, what you’ve found to be successful and how you’re working to create successful programmes for both newly arrived learners and established migrant communities.

Follow live highlights of the discussion on Twitter and Facebook - look out for updates via #epale2016.

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Cristina Allemann-Ghionda's picture

Dear friends, I would like to thank everybody for the numerous, extremely informative and insightful comments. It appears to me that language education (in many variations, from L2 to L1 to multilingual education) is currently dominating the practical activities both of NGO's and the policies and practice of official institutions. VET seems to be less urgent right now at least for newly-arrived immigrants. But this may change soon, let us see what tomorrow's discussion says.

Also, another perspective emergend in today's discussion: the whole thing is not only about educating migrants for language and integration (which can never be imposed) but about educating societies to live in a continuous process of immigration and even transmigration.


Thanks again, and I wish everybody lots of energy and optimism in their work - and a very nice evening. 

Andra Tanase's picture

I would like to raise one other, rather different aspect, of education that builds meaningful living together for migrants and their host communities.

The fact that a core part of the narrative change around this topic, is the fact that we need to have education also directed towards host communities, so linking more with awareness raising and increasing the capacities of host communities in terms of their knowledge, their understanding, and practical skills to engage with migrants. Most migrant education is done with migrants as "beneficiaries" (I don't like the term) education in schools (and we have seen there that it is still done not enough and doesn't engage enough the parents) or sometimes tokenistic (food and music) cultural attepts to make the population aware of their backgrounds, which DO HAVE a strong impact and value but need to be followed up with the right structures and cultural value change.  

The programmes having migrants and host population together developing and educating themselves about each other and about competencies needed in our world are still happens more from informal (when people get married....for example) nonformal ....and very little to the formal setting. perhaps this is what we could address as a challenge and opportunity tomorrow?



Cristina Allemann-Ghionda's picture

Yes, it is in fact about educating everybody (not only migrants) for societies which are shaped more and more by continuous migration and intercultural interaction, if not always dialogue. So "education for migration societies", not only for professionals like teachers, trainers, social workers, physicians, para-medical personnel, lawyers and many other professionals, but simply everybody! A huge task for NGO's and public institutions. Thank you for this input, which reminds us that integration is a multi-sided, reciprocal process.

Marcelle Bugre's picture

Hi Andra,


I will be moderating the topic of challenges tomorrow and we can discuss this. I think this is a very interesting point. In the adult education programmes delivered by the Foundation I work for, FSM, in the past, we had a programme of what was called 'cultural orientation'. On conducting some interviews on service provision in 2014 I fund out that some of the persons delivering this course had altered course methods, as they explained, because students were not always interested to learn 'our culture' when it was one sided. In one particular case the teacher started the topic with placing pictures of the students' countries and asking them to comment. What followed was a myriad of culture descriptions from Somalia, Sudan and so many other countries. in this way the teacher included Maltese culture as a part of the discussion on culture and including all the cultures in the classroom. On the other hand it was important for the students to learn about the host culture since they needed tobe prepared for living outside the centre in the community. Individuals who did not understand the host culture could easily run into problems about for example accommodation agreements, employment practices and meeting personal health needs. 



Cristina Allemann-Ghionda's picture

The current emergency situation (refugee crisis) apparently puts governments and local authorities, but also NGO's, under a certain type of political pressure, so that integration of migrants and language training are declared to be on the top of the agenda. VET is less prominent these days, although there is a lot of experience in this field as well, addressing young migrants and also more experienced migrants who need to retrain. 

There are, also, many programmes of the type "Intercultural communication and education", both at universities and other tertiary education institutions, and other programmes connected to municipalities; the latter address employees and officials, and aim at helping them acquire or perfect skills so that they may become more competent to interact peacefully and effectively with migrants. At the University of Cologne (sorry for speaking pro domo mea) there is a module for advanced students of medicine, in which they learn theoretically and practically about communication skills, and one of the submodules is interaction with migrants in the medical context: http.//

Continuing what I answered Andra, I maintain that adult education with migrants has many  facets, and needs to address and involve many strata and milieus of the whole population!


Juris Osis's picture

It is true that refugee crisis puts everyone under certain type of pressure but I would argue that language training still is essential for any kind of education and access to the labor market. In Latvia VET besides universities is predominantly field of small private companies and NGOs and basically all training courses are in national language. If a person is unemployed she or he may apply to the VET courses free of charge as the part of the ALMP but again - only in Latvian. So if a migrant does not have at least some language training it is very unlikely that she or he will be able to access any VET programs or get a job. And I don't think it is a political issue.

Andra Tanase's picture

Speaking on the Romania experience, the approach is that migrants have the same rights as Romanians, thus beyond language training, they should be able to access VET programmes as any citizen of Romania does.  Now that is also to say that they have as little chances, as Romanians to enter meaninful VET programmes. Generally, the focus on VET in Romania is being reduced, and this is a criticism I bring to the educational system, that trains many theoreticians, that keeps people in the educational system "just to study" and to prolongue the moment when they are faced with the challenge of not finding employment.

The same applies for migrants, and from personal experience and accounts I have met many migrants for whom education (schooling) is the option of engagement into the new society, or even the reason for migrating. So, a look at meaningful VET and better counselling to enter the labour market is essential. For example more linking between LEGAL CLINICS for migrants (such as the ones in the Netherlands) and advocacy efforts towards National and European Education Programmes.



Cristina Allemann-Ghionda's picture

The tendency you describe, Andra, is a fact in several countries. Many people these days prefer to address general education and possibly higher education, because of not always realistic personal aspirations, and because national policies tend to encourage this direction. Among migrants, VET seems to be even less popular. Many come to Germany, for example, hoping to become physicians or engineers. But still, there are enough candidates for VET because one cannot enter high school and higher education without the appropriate qualifications and language skills. Also, VET is a very good alternative in many countries, because the offer is of high quality. Targeted information is needed. See for example the information brochure on VET, designed in Cologne, "Berufsbildung im Handwerk - Zukunft beginnt hier!" (VET in craft / trade),  

Dominique Millet's picture


My name is Dominique Millet. I am working (voluntary) in the association AIFRISSS. With the INSUP- Bordeaux, my association draw an Erasmus + project named DIME (Development of a skills reference framework and a training modules to promote the Inclusion of Migrants in Europe The referent is INSUP.

I enter very late in the discussion, excuse me.

Concerning the language training, there  is, in  the democratic states of Europe, who recieved much migrant people, a convergence : all states think and declare that the knowledge of the language of the host country and a multicultural education are the greatest conditions of  inclusion. But, it is very difficult to know what is the best manner to learn a second language in the situation of "migrant " or refugee. Somme universities in differents countries began to develop researches on the subject : Language of Integration. I think it would be interesting that the different researchers exchange their own results on this subject. Is that possible ? Can EPALE realize this work ?