On the 15th of October, COFACE Families Europe joined the Public Hearing on Education and Migration organised by the European education trade unions (ETUCE) and employers (EFEE), hosted by the Member of European Parliament Pierfrancesco Majorino.
According to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, countries have to provide access to education to every child, regardless of his or her migratory status. However, crossing the doorstep of a school is not enough. For an educational experience which is of quality and for an integration process that benefits future societies, Europe should put the rights and needs of migrant and refugee children at the centre of any initiative.
This was the final event of the project ‘European Sectoral Social Partners in Education promoting effective integration of migrants and refugees in education’ which aimed at improving the situation of migrant and refugee children in education. Participants reflected on the achievements and needs of all those involved in the educational inclusion of newly arrived migrant and refugee children: teachers, trainers, school leaders, and all other education personnel, education authorities and education employers and trade unions.
In order to build synergies with civil society, COFACE and other organisations were invited to share their experience on the topic, in different meetings, including this public hearing. After the opening and the projection of a touching documentary realised during the project, there was a panel discussion including representatives from COFACE, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), Eurochild, the Red Cross and SOLIDAR, moderated by Susan Flocken, Director of ETUCE.
There we stressed the importance of putting inclusion at the core of education and social policies. And we shared the vision of COFACE, where education is a lifelong pathway that goes from early child education and care to adult learning and which includes non-formal education and extra-curricular activities. We underlined that education must put the child at the centre and is a family project where the family members, school professionals, peers and communities are equally important for the child to reach his or her full potential. Actions to improve the quality of education have thus to target these actors, as our COFACE members do with different activities including peer support, community building, adult learning, psychological support and many others.
The second part of the panel was about networks and future synergies. We stressed the importance of partnership at all levels, the need to break silos between policy areas and of involving civil society and social partners in the process of building inclusive societies. We also committed, together with the other participants, to keep on working together at European and national level to advocate for quality education and full inclusion for migrant and refugee children.