Including Children / Young People Affected by Migration in Schools by Improving Convivencia (Harmony), Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Wellbeing

The objectives of the ICAM project

Consequently the ICAM project will develop a child and family support programme to:

A) Increase the awareness of children/young people affected by migration who are potential victims of exclusion and those who enter into contact with them, so that children affected by migration understand and benefit from their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights.

B) Apply lessons learned about the long term effects of displacement and bereavement on children affected by migration during World War 2.

C) Through training and support reinforce the capacities of educators and families to ensure the inclusion of children affected by migration in mainstream schools.

D) Develop the whole school formal and informal curriculum for social and emotional learning (SEL) with additional support that meets the special SEL needs of children affected by migration.

E) Improve inclusion and safe learning in school by improving the whole school environment of convivencia concentrating on 10 areas of school organization which combine to create the climate of convivencia.

F) Develop peer led initiatives for children/young people in schools that will promote their ownership and responsibility for including all students fully in the life of the school.

G) Apply an on-line ICAM school review instrument on SEL and the school’s organisation for convivencia and inclusion involving all stakeholders.

H) Reinforce cooperation between schools, families, NGOs and other agencies/organisations that are in contact with children/young people affected by migration.

The issues addressed by ICAM

In 2015 there were already 72 million people classified as migrants living in Europe according to the UNODC. Ongoing migration has accelerated so that, in the year up to October 2015, more than 644,000 people had arrived in Europe from countries such as Syria, Eritrea and Libya. According to the UNHCR 361,678 arrived by sea in 2016, an additional 5,022 were known to be dead or missing on the journey. The total of those arriving in Europe now approaches 1.3 million. The UNHCR reports that this situation has fuelled a rise in racism, xenophobia, gender-based violence and intolerance all of which will result in the exclusion of children and young people from the education and learning which are their entitlement. Because they also face trauma from separation and disruption, the ICAM project includes the children and young people of European migrant workers left behind in their country of birth. In Romania alone there are an estimated 650,000 children and young people affected by migration; left behind by parents migrating for work elsewhere in Europe. There is strong evidence to show that investment in SEL and the creation of a safe and secure learning environment in school is highly cost effective, and that, through the application to improved life skills and the ability to learn of all children and young people, these initiatives bring major economic benefits in the future, both in terms of productivity and in reduced social welfare/criminal justice costs. This project not only meets key needs of the target group, it also benefits countries as a whole by helping to ensure that it is not only CAM who will become fully integrated and contributory members of society.

Social and Emotional Learning Enhancing Social and Emotional Learning and Wellbeing

UNICEF defines SEL as:
A process of acquiring social and emotional values, attitudes, competencies, knowledge and skills that are essential for learning, effectiveness, wellbeing and success in life. These qualities include self-awareness, emotional literacy, resilience, persistence, motivation, empathy, social and relationship skills, effective communication, self-esteem, self-confidence, respect and self-regulation. Research has shown that promoting students’ emotional health and wellbeing has a positive impact on overall academic achievement and attainment The ICAM project supports schools in developing the social emotional and civic competencies and understanding of democratic values and fundamental rights of all children and young people and other members of the school community by including an enhanced and comprehensive Social and Emotional Learning programme alongside the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools programme, in the formal and informal school curriculum. A programme of social and emotional learning is seen by UNESCO, UNICEF and an increasing number of national and international childcare agencies as an essential component of the entitlement curriculum. CAM need additional support to help them restore the damage to their social and emotional wellbeing caused by displacement and the trauma of migration.
Included in the ICAM training programme is guidance and instruction to enable school staff to work with and to train parents/carers. Parents/carers will learn how to support and protect CAM and how to reinforce and extend their SEL and wellbeing in partnership with the school.

Improving the whole school climate of convivencia

UNICEF defines SEL as:
A report for UNICEF notes that approximately 40% of students worldwide regularly experience violence in schools. Bullying accounts for approximately 80% of violence against them resulting in their exclusion from learning. Unless schools take specific steps to protect them, CAM are particularly vulnerable to violence and abuse – mainly bullying (including cyber-bullying), which is notoriously meted out by children, young people and adults on members of any community who are seen as different in appearance, circumstance, or culture. The improvement in convivencia in schools is identified as the most effective and positive way to improve inclusion To achieve this, ICAM applies the techniques developed by their previous AAB project which improves the convivencia in schools by training ICAM school leaders in whole school development of 12 aspects of school organisation shown to have the most direct influence on creating the climate of convivencia. The training, which is cascaded to all staff, includes restorative approaches to conflict resolution.

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