Chiara Borsini is a project manager and trainer specialising in digital journalism and new media, digital storytelling and intercultural communication, with experience in consulting and training in the fields of digital and social inclusion and cultural heritage. Chiara has a Master's Degree in International Relations and a Master's Diploma in World Heritage and Cultural Projects for Development, as well as in Storytelling & Performing Arts.
Based on your experience, what kind of basic skills are most important to develop in the process of social and economic integration of migrants and refugees?
Considering the framework outlined by the Recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council "Relating to key competences for lifelong learning" – through which the EU has identified the key competences that everyone needs for personal fulfilment and development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employment – the areas in which migrants and refugees most need to develop their skills, based on my experience, are: communication (with a specific focus on literacy and language courses), social and civic skills, cultural awareness and expression, and digital skills. Compared to the latter, which are also crucial to guarantee access to the labour market, the starting situation of migrants, refugees or asylum seekers is often quite heterogeneous. While some have never used a computer, others come with a wealth of advanced computer skills. In this context, greater attention should be given to training courses on computer literacy and media literacy.
Can you tell me more about the CORES project and its relevance to the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union?
“CORES: Charter of Common Refugee Strategies” (2018-1-TR01-KA204-059635) is a European cooperation project, funded under the Erasmus + program, which aims to support newly arrived migrants, refugees and professionals working with them. CORES addresses the problems faced by refugees, asylum seekers, migrants by working with adult education providers, policy makers, local authorities, NGO’s and third sector associations operators in 6 different countries - Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic and Greece. The project works to ease the burden of refugee crises on EU governments and to contribute to the mutual acceptance between those who have just arrived and the host society.
For this purpose, a Charter of Common Strategies for Refugees at European Union level will be produced within the CORES project, which is based on an in-depth country-specific situation and needs analysis as well as on a number of focus groups involving refugees, asylum seekers and social workers who support them in their integration process. The Charter takes into account local dynamics and values for each partner country in order to formulate guidelines that take into account the principles and values expressed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Social Charter (1965).
The second goal of the project is to inform the newly arrived about citizenship rights and the ways of acquiring citizenship, thus supporting them in the management of fundamental issues such as housing, the right of access to the health services, and the right to, and possibilities of, basic education, employment and social inclusion. To this end, an online learning platform will be implemented in order to make use of specific aims mentioned above for authorities, adult education providers, refugees.
The promotion of initiatives such as this, at a European level, is relevant precisely in the light of this important event, the twentieth anniversary of the proclamation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which safeguards rights and promotes values such as dignity, solidarity, equality and citizenship, with all the rights and duties connected with it. It is increasingly necessary to guarantee the possibility for everyone to enjoy these rights. For years, Europe has been facing the challenge of adequately managing the migration phenomenon and from the analysis carried out within the CORES project it appears that there are still many initiatives to be undertaken in order to ensure greater awareness of the acquisition of fundamental rights and to ensure that it becomes part of specific training pathways which see the same beneficiaries of these projects as proactive agents and protagonists of this process.
More information about the project can be found here: http://coresproject.net/
What other initiatives have you promoted in order to support the acquisition of basic skills for this specific target group?
My job gave me the chance to work on various projects dedicated to migrants, with the aim of guaranteeing their social and digital inclusion, contributing to the implementation of various training and social communication projects financed by European funds (AMIF 2014-2020). I am also part of a cultural association that every year runs an international cross-cultural theatre workshop called Human Beings, attended by people from different backgrounds, including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who, thanks to theatrical practice, are able to develop communication and language skills, social and soft skills as well as cultural awareness and expression.
Remaining, however, with the topic of this interview and the relevance of citizenship competences in the process of building a new identity for the European Union, I would like to mention one experience in particular, that of Digital Welcome. This European project, financed by the Asylum, migration and integration Fund ( AMIF-2016-AG-INTE-01 "Integration of third country nationals") for the social and digital inclusion of third country nationals provided a training course on 4 main topics: Digital Journalism, Digital Storytelling, Coding and Soft Skills. Digital Welcome involved 7 organisations from 6 countries (Italy, Greece, Belgium, Spain, Germany) and combined training courses dedicated to specific skills (digital and IT) with the development of soft skills that concretely stimulated integration paths in the host society. Through the tool of "interviews" or "digital storytelling" for instance, the participants were able to improve their language skills, develop strategies to familiarise themselves with the new context, working on micro-projects that produced results which confirmed their progress, as well as being useful for enriching their curriculum. These opportunities have also been useful for understanding dynamics often unknown to beneficiaries and for acquiring knowledge of basic tools necessary to access the labour market, such as, for example, a CV. The course participants, in turn, became mentors in the subjects studied during the training and returned the knowledge acquired during free workshops open to citizens.
Digital Welcome had a positive impact both on its beneficiaries and on the implementation of a pilot that could set a trend for many other initiatives. The project also won “Best practice in Promoting Values” at the European Commission LLLAWARDS 2019.