european students’ union

Together, moving forward: Students from all over Europe gathered in Brussels to discuss the integration of refugees

February 27, 2017

BRUSSELS – The capacity building event for the “Together, Moving Forward” small grants programme took place between 12-14 February. It gathered students from all over Europe interested in cooperating for a stronger refugee participation in the European society and set to fight against hate speech and discrimination. The event is a first step towards successful student-led initiatives that the TMF small grants programme aims to encourage.

The event was attended by 34 participants from 24 countries. This provided an excellent multicultural setting for sharing experiences and better understanding the situation of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe

Supported by motivated facilitators (Karolina Pietkiewicz, Melanie Froelich, Francesca Bragagnolo and Helge Schwitters), participants discussed effective methods to involve refugees and asylum seekers in any project concerning their living conditions, including access to education. Participants also reflected on how, through their projects, they can impact and confront the negative rhetoric around refugees in their societies.

An insight into Idomeni camp

The event kicked off with an introductory session, followed by  the screening of the award-winning documentary “Spectres are haunting Europe”. The documentary, by Greek directors  Maria Kourkouta and Niki Giannari, focused on the day-to-day life of residents of the Idomeni camp after the closure of the border between Greece and Macedonia. The screening was followed by an intimate reflection on the experience of refugees across history, and Europe’s response to their struggles.  

On the second night, participants attended a Syrian dinner organised by Brussels-based, refugee-led NGO #WeExist.

Easing refugees’ access to education through the Lisbon Recognition Convention

Some of the main challenges refugees face are   access to higher education and the recognition of qualifications. However, the Lisbon Recognition Convention – the main tool for recognition of studies in the European countries – can be used for an easier process. Participants unanimously agreed that refugees’ situations  need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that flexibility is required when it comes to situations such as missing diplomas, language, costs or traumatic experiences.

It is crucial to understand the needs of displaced people when it comes to access to education and integration in host countries. These needs are  influenced by local, institutional and national systems and realities and call for a thorough and multifaceted analysis. This, in turn, might lead to new approaches to improving the refugees’ situation.

Next deadline for applications

The next deadline for applications for the TMF grants programme is on the 15th of March. You can find more information on our website. For any additional information about the application process, please contact Francesca Bragagnolo, TMF Project Manager, at movingforward@esu-online.org.

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