From 19 till 20 April 2016 I took part in the Transnational Conference “Education, Participation, Integration-Erasmus+ and Refugees”, hosted by the German Erasmus + National Agency NA-BIBB “Nationale Agentur Bildung für Europa beim Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildungin”, in Essen, Germany.
The Conference hosted 280 people coming from 25 different European countries, including representatives of educational institutions (higher education, vocational and adult education and schools), the youth sector, local authorities, employment agencies, chambers, enterprises and stakeholders involved in the employment and education integration of refugees into.
The Conference offered an innovative networking opportunity to support institutions and organizations with facilitating the integration of refugees, focusing on the validation of new appropriate methods (like non-formal and informal learning methods), unconventional training activities for refugees and to integrate them in the Europe’s education systems, and innovative approaches for vocational and educational staff.
The conference included two sessions with practical actions in small thematic groups, conversations with artists and keynote contributors, and presentation of good practises emphasizing cross-cultural experiences.
Also, there was a market-place for projects and a cultural dinner for social networking. The final panel discussion gave an overview of the Erasmus+ programme and the challenges of Member States to remove multiple barriers faced by refugees in terms of access to education and employment.
On Friday 4 March 23 students following the International Baccalaureate at St. Edward’s College and 17 Spanish students from Virgen del Remedio (Madrid) met in Valletta to watch a play about the life and death of Martin Luther King. Following the performance all students participated in workshops to discuss various topics such as: persecution of minorities, poverty, migration and climate change and its social impact.
The leaders of each group presented their conclusions to the plenary where our Director, an Old Edwardian, chaired the session’s closure. Neil concluded the experience by explaining the role every citizen can play to protect the human rights of every individual, and focused on the importance of equality and human dignity in relations with society.
This event provided us the opportunity to engage with young leaders and to promote the values we hold so dearly: the universality of all fundamental human rights, and a social responsibility requiring us to be active thinkers and advocates.
On Monday 29 February, together with our project partners MGRM, the Ministry for Education and Employment and the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, we launched the research report ‘Sensitivity, Safety and Strength: An Inter-agency Review of Malta’s Policy on Trans, Gender Variant and Intersex Students‘.
The report was researched in the context of the project that sought to assess the actual impact of the June 2015 national policy on trans, gender variant and intersex students.
Two primary goals drove the report’s spirit and methodology: to secure a safe learning environment for all students, and to support the full enjoyment of all their fundamental human rights. With this value approach in mind, our research conducted a series of stakeholder meetings in order to assess the actual impact of the June 2015 policy.
A Policy Assessment Tool was designed and presented, largely along the lines of the human rights indicator model promoted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Tool is intended to be the basis for regular, comparative policy assessments that would identify implementation trends, challenges and actual impact on the intended target groups/themes.
Our report makes a number of recommendations, including:
- ensure access by the school community to information on services provided by community-based organisations;
- engage in effective out-reach to Church and Independent Schools, in order for them to endorse the June 2015 policy and to participate in sharing of best practices, data collation and national monitoring exercises;
- design and implement a structured training programme on LGBTIQ matters in schools, starting from professional training at the University of Malta and following with on-going professional growth;
- provide schools with guidelines on attire and physical appearance (e.g. are boys allowed to wear ear-rings or to grow their hair?);
We were happy that this project enabled us to to work hand in hand with NGO and institutional partners, on the basis of a common understanding of the need to ensure a rights-based and child-centric approach to this sensitive issue. This is definitely a project implementation methodology that we will seek to follow in other areas.