Case Study No.8

Policy Paper for the inclusion of migrant students

Cyprus

Enoros Consulting Ltd

row-happy-young-teacher-schoolchildren-standing-by-blackboard.jpg

Key words

Linguistic misunderstanding, Stereotypes, xenophobia, racism, education, school, teachers

School involved

School education

Detailed description of the situation

In May 2016, Cyprus Pedagogical Institute (which focuses on the development of all levels of educations and its main activities centre on in-service training of teachers, educational research, education documentation and educational technology) along with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports created a policy paper on the integration of pupils with a migrant background to the Cyprus Educational System as a reference framework for teachers and school leaders in the decision-making process concerning the integration of the specific pupils. The policy paper includes the following:

1) introduction, 2) description of the current situation in the public schools in Cyprus, 3) the new proposal on the reception of children with migrant background to the Cyprus educational system and teaching of Greek as a second language, and 4) concluding remarks.

The policy framework of the MoEC for the integration of pupils with migrant background into the Cypriot society falls within the following five priority axes:

1. Greek Language Learning

2. Reception of newly-arrived children with migrant background 

3. Training of Teachers

4. Collection and analysis of data on the needs of pupils with migrant background.

5. Intercultural approach of new curricula

The priorities set are the implementation rather than simply the formulation of policies, with emphasis on access, learning and integration of migrants into the school, and emphasis on supporting the education systems from the surrounding community. The basic principles are to ensure the quality of the education system, utilise diversity and heterogeneity in the school, and taking targeted measures for children with migrant background combined with integration strategies.

In line with the above, the new proposal for the smooth integration of pupils with migrant background into the Cypriot education system has the following goals:

 

  • To map-out the migrant population by school unit (e.g. school units with a continuous flow of refugees/migrants and schools with resident migrants) in a uniform way to make possible the differentiation of the measures applied, with common axes for all levels.

  • To gather information about the pupils' profile (communication with parent/guardian, social welfare services, exploration of the country's socio-political context), regarding their living conditions in the host country and their progress in a variety of skills

  • To combat any racist incident they may be subjected to as victims, through the anti-racist policy of the MoEC "Code of Conduct against Racism and a Guide to the Management and Recording of Racist Incidents"

  • To revise the terms used in the official rhetoric of the MoEC concerning pupils with migrant background

  • To develop a network of "mentors" (mentor-classmate, mentor-educator, community mentor who can be involved, mainly during the first preparatory phase).

  • The cooperation of the school unit with the local government to open the school to the community, with the aim of educating and involving parents.

It is specifically proposed to employ adults who come from the countries of the student population, who can work with specific work hours and tasks in school units at all levels of education. Most of their tasks will be related to translation, including of various forms, guides and circulars to pupils and parents, communication between school and parents, involvement in the learning process in the classroom and the support of pupils in general. They will be able to act as liaisons, providing information both on subjects that concern the individual, but also on general cultural issues, which should be taken into account by the school and the educational system. 

Furthermore, in order to tackle the language barrier at schools, the Pedagogical Institute suggested to teachers to provide a keychain to student migrants. The teacher should prepare a keychain for example with various pictures (tap water, toilet, book, pencil, etc.) which will facilitate the child's operation in the school environment. If the child needs to drink water, she/he will be able to show the teacher the picture with the tap water. The teacher will say the word "water" or the word "tap water" in the host country’s language so that the child begins to learn the host language.

Are you aware of similar measures in your country?

Share your ideas and suggestions on TEACHmi online Forum!

Here are few questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you have similar guidelines in your school?

  • Would you change something? Are they respected?

  • Are you informed about your TCN students? How do you collect information about their background and progress? Do you cooperate with your colleagues in this task?

  • Does your school promote initiatives specifically aimed at integrating TCN students and their families? If yes, can you think about anything to change or improve? If not, how do you try to communicate with them? What are the main obstacles preventing you and your colleagues to do so?

Initial reaction

After a large influx of migrant children in Cyprus, the Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) along with the Pedagogical Institute in Cyprus adopted a policy paper and declared their commitment to the smooth integration of pupils with a migrant background into the Cyprus educational system. The policy paper aims at providing a framework for every action which falls within the Cyprus educational system in respect to the issue of the integration of pupils with migrant background. The ultimate aim is to utilise this document as a reference framework in the decision-making process concerning the integration of pupils. 

Suggested solution

The teachers use and follow the policy paper in schools in order to help with the inclusion of migrant students. This toolbox can offer practical guidelines for language teaching to migrant students and for the management of diversity in the classroom. See in particular Topic 1 and 4.

Why is this case-study relevant?

This case study emphasizes some guidelines that teachers should follow in schools according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.