Project ST (Unofficial translation)
Type of Information
TAIPA-CRL, Cooperative Organization for the Integrated Development of the Municipality of Odemira
Ms. Tânia Santos (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
The ST Project was the first project in the field of migration in the municipality of Odemira, Portugal, in 2013. It is funded by the Choices Program (5th Generation) / the High Commission for Migration (ACM) and promoted by TAIPA. The project emerged after a group of actors observed an increase in the number of migrants arriving in the region and a need for responses to welcome them, especially children and young people.
The ST Project aims to bring people together, provide space for encounters between cultures and ethnicities and improve the relations between the local and migrant communities. Since implementing the project’s activities seven years ago, it has brought positive changes to the lives of approximately 1000 children, young people and families.
Image by Project ST
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
The municipality of Odemira and the civil parish of São Teotónio currently host 57.8% of migrants that reside in the Beja district. Over the last decade, thousands of migrants have arrived from Asia, including from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Pakistan.
With this new migration pattern, different habits, cultures and languages became present in the territory, bringing new opportunities and challenges for newcomers and natives. The language barrier is the first key obstacle to integration; school absenteeism, high levels of school failure and low professional aspirations lower the opportunities for migrant children and young people. Socially, the new migratory reality has caused insecurities and violence on the streets, with some physical confrontations between Asian groups. In addition, drug use has raised concerns among the local population. Despite the absence of hateful or racially motivated crimes, the local community holds discriminatory attitudes about migrants.
For these reasons, the ST Project seeks to accompany children and young migrants throughout their school, family and social life. In particular, it aims to contribute to school success and the reduction of school absenteeism, involve the migrant community in activities that promote their civic participation, and promote the social integration of migrants, particularly children and young people in the parish of São Teotónio.
The methodology of the ST Project is based on three elements: ecological-developmental intervention, community intervention and inter-institutional intervention. In this sense, the contributions of each of the elements of the different systems and partnerships directly influence the project's actions with its target audience. The entire intervention is based on the establishment of relationships of trust.
How does it work
The actions are developed around two measures:
Measure I - Education, Training and Qualification:
- Portuguese lessons: Portuguese Language Teaching Program for Migrants, promoting the mastery of the language in everyday life.
Pedagogical support: Activities aimed at supporting children and young people in school tasks and promoting study skills.
- Recreating: Recreational entertainment activities in the 1st cycle to promote personal and social relationships between children of various nationalities through playing.
- Skills development program: Personal and social skills development program at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd cycle to promote interculturality. It provides awareness-raising activities for the school community (teachers, assistants and EE's) on issues related to migration and the importance of integration.
- Frensy: Awareness raising activities for young people on the consumption of psychoactive substances and associated risk behaviours, sexual and reproductive health and gender violence.
- Projects @ CID: Pedagogical activity to promote skills in the ICT area and create awareness-raising products about stereotypes through photography, video and multimedia materials.
Measure II - Community dynamism, participation and citizenship:
- Social support office: Support in the oral or written translation of documents, referral to school/training and in connection with local services/structures such as school, health centres, internal revenue services, social security etc.
- St holidays: Playful and pedagogical activities for leisure during school breaks for the children and young people.
- In_Art: Artistic-pedagogical activities to promote interculturality through music, dance, theatre and radio.
- Workshops without frontiers: Citizenship workshops that promote cultural diversity. The workshops also provide encounters for locals and migrants through the exchange of knowledge, arts, crafts and the habits of each cultural group.
- Street mediator: Meeting and training program for young mediators who represent and interconnect the different cultures and nationalities in the civil parish of S. Teotónio.
- Route ST: Creation of a tourist itinerary comprising a historical, ethnic and cultural route where the participants get familiarised with the local resources and people.
- ST NÃ Drome: Participation and involvement in cultural and community events, supporting local customs and traditions (e.g. Festival of Masts, Festival of Corn and Beans, Intercultural Day, celebration of national days of different countries).
The main impact of ST Project can be witnessed at the community level, where there is coexistence of people from different geographical origins in the same space and with the same objectives. Currently, the local community recognises the importance of Project ST in educating their children with the migrant children that attend the activities. For the project, this is a sign that the mindsets of locals are becoming more open and accepting of the cultural diversity that marks the village.
At an individual level, the project has also majorly promoted school success. For instance, many young people improved their school results or successfully finished the school year. With the project's insistence on the importance of school, there was a reduction in school absenteeism. Furthermore, youngsters who had an aggressive behavior at the beginning of the project are now mediators of conflicts among the younger participants.
Who will benefit?
The project’s beneficiaries are divided in direct and indirect participants. The direct participants include children and young people that are aged between 6-25 years old and originate from more vulnerable contexts and higher exclusion risks, i.e. descendants of migrants. The project has children and young people of at least eight different nationalities (Bulgaria, India, Nepal, Portugal, Ukraine, Romania, Algeria, Brazil) which are mostly male. The identified direct participants face a variety of risks such as school absenteeism, school failure, unemployment (NEET youth) and deviant behaviours. Indirect participants are any other children or young people who do not fall in any of those risky situations, as well as family members, teaching staff, educational assistants or other technical staff. In each year, the total number of participants (direct and indirect) to be covered cannot be less than 160 participants, 50 of which must be direct. In 2019, the project reached around 300 participants.
Source of funding and Resources used
85% of the project was funded by the Choices Programme (Programa Escolhas, 7th Generation) sponsored by the High Commission for Migration (ACM). 15% of the funding was covered by the Consortium entities, composed of TAIPA, the Municipality of Odemira, the civil parish of São Teotónio, the Group of Schools of São Teotónio and Odemira’s Children and Youth Protection Commission. This consortium was responsible of defining the intervention strategies and monitoring the evaluation of the project regularly.
In addition to the Consortium, the project also had the involvement of other local informal partners, namely the local policy force - GNR, the Health Centre of Odemira - Community Care Unit, the civil parish of S.Teotónio, the Home of S.Teotónio, ADMIRA, Association PédeXumbo, Association of Local Traditions Nã Drome and other social intervention projects such as CLAIM (Local Centre for Migrant Integration), project Giramundo and project “I, You and Us”.
The total funding for the 2 years of intervention was € 168,681.97 (Choices Program: € 117,600.00; Consortium: € 51,081.97). The team consists of a full-time coordinator, a technical staff member and a part-time community facilitator.