Case Study No.6

Yaldaz’s story

Bulgaria

College of pedagogy- Pleven, Veliko Tarnovo University

muslim-children-studying-classroom.jpg

Key words

Ethnicity, migration, prejudice, intolerance, stereotypes, school, education, racism

School involved

School education

Detailed description of the situation

Yaldaz is 11 years old. She was born into a family of ethnic Turks who emigrated to Germany when she was 3 years old. After returning home twice and then going to Germany, in 2019 the family finally returned to Bulgaria. She settled in a small town with a predominant population of Bulgarian origin. Yaldaz is enrolled in 5th grade at a comprehensive school.

The girl's stay in school is accompanied by many difficulties and challenges. Yaldaz does not speak Bulgarian well. Her classmates do not accept her - she is ridiculed for not knowing the language, she has no friends, although there are different ethnic backgrounds in the class. Some of her classmates often abuse her mentally. Some of the teachers in the individual subjects also show intolerance.

During the first term, the student receives poor grades in several subjects. At the same time, Yaldaz showed good results in German, which her parents chose as their second foreign language. The teacher constantly encourages her and the girl enjoys attending German classes. The teacher also shows a positive attitude towards the student. From the very beginning, the teacher demonstrated understanding and readiness to support the child and the family for easier adaptation to the new environment.

Difficulties in the learning process and the negative attitude of the class demotivate Yaldaz and she goes to school with growing reluctance. After one of the consecutive days in which she was insulted by her classmates and humiliated by the Bulgarian language teacher for not coping with the task set in class, Yaldaz stated at home that she no longer wanted to go to school. 

The girl's parents are very worried and talk to a teacher. The following actions have been taken:

  • The class teacher informs the school management about the situation and seeks assistance in engaging the necessary pedagogical specialists with supporting functions;

  • The school psychologist conducts several individual conversations with the student, thanks to which she changes her initial intention;

  • The psychologist conducts individual conversations and consultations with students who systematically bully Yaldaz;

  • Specialists from the Center for Social Support are invited, who conduct several sessions of group work with students from the class of Yaldaz in ​​order to foster understanding and tolerance;

  • The necessary procedural actions have been taken to include the student in additional forms of general support according to the Ordinance on Inclusive Education; additional classes and consultations in Bulgarian are provided;

  • The school management organizes two trainings of the pedagogical team for increasing the intercultural competence and the skills for work in a multicultural environment;

  • On the idea of ​​the German language teacher, in one of the classes Yaldaz was invited to share in front of the group her memories from Germany and to show photos from her childhood there.

What was wrong in the initial reaction? What would you do?

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Here are few questions for self-reflection:

  • Are you aware of such cases?

  •  What do you think are the most problematic moments in the presented case?

  • Do you think the actions taken are adequate?

  • What solutions would you suggest?

Initial reaction

Although all the necessary conditions are in place - regulations (Inclusive Education Ordinance), teachers, pedagogical specialists with supporting functions - there are also factors that hinder the success of the process. They are mainly reduced to stereotypes and prejudices against members of other ethnic groups, which are reflected in misunderstanding, intolerance and negative behaviour, manifested in various forms - neglect, insults, aggression, harassment, stereotypes, bias.

Suggested solution

Based on the information from the class teacher, the school management has taken adequate measures, covering all problem areas - individual work with the student; forms of pedagogical support for overcoming learning difficulties; individual and group work with the class for climate improvement; training for teachers to increase intercultural competence; initiatives aimed at encouraging the student and increasing her motivation for learning activities. The effectiveness and efficiency of these measures depends to a large extent on their systematic nature, which means that some of them should be of a permanent nature.

Why is this case-study relevant?

This example provides information on some of the problem areas in educational institutions that hinder the process of educational integration for students of different ethnic backgrounds. It also offers specific solutions that could be developed and multiplied through the TEACHmi Project.