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Integration practices Program for Accelerating Progress in
Social and Educational Integration of
Children - Asylum Seekers and Re
fugees  (Unofficial translation)
Project begin 01/11/2011

Attached file(s)

Target audience

  • AGE
    • <18
  • MIGRATION REASONS
    • Refugees (including asylum-seekers)

Thematic

  • SOCIAL COHESION
    • Social inclusion
  • EDUCATION AND CULTURE
    • School education
    • Out-of-school education incl. life-long learning and distance education
    • Language competencies
    • Intercultural dialogue including interreligious dialogue
    • Cultural activities and diversity
Project end 01/11/2013
Country of residence Bulgaria
City / Region
City Sofia
Abstract (EN)

 

50 Bulgarian volunteers recruited by "Caritas Sofia" provide individual support to children asylum seekers and refugees, consisting in work on the curriculum in Bulgarian language, support throughout their learning process, preparation of homework, and organization of games, celebrations, creative and cultural entertainment in their free time.

The tutor work is done after specialized training for the recruited volunteers and under the leadership of two coordinators. Volunteers are recruited through competition. They speak one or more languages spoken in the countries of origin of the target group, such as Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish and others.


 

Issue/challenge and
goals/assumptions

 

Individual approach is essential for the integration of children - asylum seekers and refugees - into the Bulgarian education system. Given the large number of services required to support the integration of newly arrived refugees, provision of a truly comprehensive, individualized approach to learning the language of the host society emerged as a process of significant complexity. It is characterised by significant differences related to the time of interruption of education in the country of origin, level of literacy, mother tongue, and the specifics of education and culture in the countries of origin.

The activities of this project started in response to the practical problems of the complex learning environment faced by the Bulgarian language teachers at the Integration Centre of the State Agency for the Refugees /SAR/. They work on everyday basis with about 15 to 25 children, ranging from 6 to 17 years old. The children speak different native languages (currently up to 7) and usually start their training in Bulgarian language at different time of the school year. Thus, the teacher has to teach at least three different lessons at a time.

As a result, the difficulties throughout the learning process lead to risks involving low-achievement of children - asylum seekers and refugees in Bulgarian schools and future social exclusion.

In order to overcome the abovementioned difficulties and prevent the described risks, the project aims to improve educational and social integration of children - asylum seekers and refugees, to increase civic engagement of young people in the country and thus achieve better understanding of the refugee issues among the Bulgarian society.


 

How does it work?

 

The practice includes the following activities: 

 

  • Selection of volunteers and team formation:

 

Volunteers are recruited by competition announced in the departments of foreign languages and social science of the Bulgarian universities, and the social networks.  Committee of two coordinators selects the most suitable young people based on submitted documents (resumes and cover letters) and interviews with shortlisted candidates.  Afterwards a specialized training is organized for the recruited volunteers on how to work with the target group.

 

  • Work with children /asylum seekers and refugees:

 

It is performed by 50 volunteers, working five days a week from 14.00 to 16.00 p.m. in the Integration Centre of SAR. Each volunteer works at least one afternoon a week, under the direction of a coordinator and staff member of the State agency.

Volunteers work with three groups of children:

  1. children attending an initial three-month language course in Bulgarian language,
  2. children pre-trained in basic skills necessary to read and count,
  3. children who study in Bulgarian public schools and need help to prepare their homework.

Another activity is related to the management of the leisure time of the children by organizing and participating in cultural events, celebrations of holidays and trips. During the school year this activity takes place outside the above mentioned work schedule - during the school holidays, at weekends or during the holidays by participating in certain events.


 

Results

 

Results one year from the project start:

 

  • 50 children - asylum seekers and refugees, have improved their educational and social integration through the targeted work of the volunteer tutors who supported them to learn the Bulgarian language and provided them with the opportunity to communicate daily with representatives of the host society;
  • 50 young Bulgarians got acquainted with the problems of refugees through their personal contacts with them;
  • Indirectly many fellow volunteers were also introduced to the problems of the refugees and took part in campaigns aiming to raise donations for the children.

 

 


 

Evaluation

 

Main sources of evaluation:

 

  • Interviews with participants in the school classes;
  • Collected information on children's overall performance compared to previous years;
  • Observations by the SAR staff and teachers from the Integration Center;
  • Concrete marks of children attending Bulgarian schools;
  • Observations of volunteers and project coordinators.

 

The practice has been welcomed by all stakeholders: representatives of governmental institutions and international organizations, NGOs, parents of the children. It was appraised as a good practice creating opportunity for intercultural dialogue between the host society and the refugees.

 

Who will benefit?

50 children - asylum seekers and refugees accommodated at the Refugee reception center of the State Agency for Refugees.

Source of funding
and resources used

 

Two coordinators are the main driving force of the project. Their salaries make up the bulk of the budget. The remaining costs are for supplies for recruiting volunteers, for the work with the children, and to cover the cost of public transportation for volunteers.

The funding is provided by the Peace Corps of the United States and the European Voluntary Service. The total project budget for one year is € 12.000.


 

Organisation Caritas Bulgaria
Contact person Radosveta Hadjieva (Send email)
Function Migration Service Coordinator
Website http://www.caritas-bg.org/index.php?option=com_cont
ent&view=article&id=80&Itemid=196&lang=bg
 

 

 
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