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Europe: First Urban Academy on Integration takes place in Brussels

Migration and integration challenges have clear urban dimensions. On 17 and 18 April 2018, within the framework of the Urban Academy on Integration, practitioners and policy makers working on integration at the local, regional and national level shared learnings and experiences. The event was divided into 2 modules which respectively address the role of education in the integration of migrants and was to work effectively with the civil society.

Education

Schools are broadly considered as integration hubs. However, with lower literacy levels and higher drop-out rates, pupils of migrant and refugee background continue to have poorer school achievements than ‘native’ children. Knowledge exchange between specialised teachers and mainstream teachers who do not have any experience in dealing with migrant pupils was highlighted as a good practice. Participants also discusses how to encourage refugees to embrace a teaching career and how the European Qualification passport could be a good tool in this process. They further stressed the importance of involving parents in pupils education.

Other sessions covered strategies to combat segregation, engage with multiple players and enable rapid language learning.

Civil society

The 2014/15 refugee arrivals triggered an explosion of voluntary initiatives which brought together diverse groups of people. The first session of this module discussed how to secure and promote effective migrant participation in the formal non-profit and voluntary sector, as well as in local democratic processes. It was pointed out that local governments missed out an opportunity to connect with migrant communities, as many of these volunteers had foreign backgrounds. To engage with them, participants suggested targeted campaigns on social media and personal contact for example, as opposed to generic messages on mainstream channels.

Other sessions covered the role of migrant organisations, and civil society as a whole, in the settlement and integration of migrant.

The Urban Academy on Integration is the initiative supporting the learning and sharing of experiences between practitioners within Urban Agenda Partnership on Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees. Since March 2016, the Urban Agenda on Inclusion brings together European cities, the European Commission, national governments and civil society organisations to discuss and develop concrete actions and recommendations on migrant integration. The goal of the Partnership is to enable cities to influence European legislation, funding and knowledge sharing.