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Friends of eTwinning - Tackling Challenges of Education with UNHCR

In 2020 the eTwinning Friends welcomed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the network.

The UNHCR’s vast hands-on experience in managing migrants and refugees in the field was welcomed by eTwinners, who embraced the topic, eager and curious to know how to tackle these sensitive subjects with their students.

As a global organisation the UNHCR is dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. Since 1950, the organisation has worked across Europe and beyond to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and to find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home. UNHCR assistance has proved to be vital for millions of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people, many of whom have nobody left to turn to.

The UNHCR embraced the eTwinning community with a head-on start. Through an online seminar on the topic of ‘Teaching About Refugees’ 200 eTwinners had an opportunity to dive into this important yet controversial topic. In the year where eTwinning explores Media Literacy and Disinformation it is very important to open discussion on these types of topics, get insight into migration phenomena and understanding of the basic concepts such as refugee, asylum, migration, and statelessness.

The seminar aimed at providing guidance for those eTwinners involved in primary and secondary school education, guiding them on how to welcome and include refugee children in their classrooms. It illustrated a path refugees undertake, understanding where they come from, the directions they go to, and the motivation and reasons that push them to leave their country behind aiming for safety elsewhere. A particular focus of the seminar was the challenges refugee children face, from learning a new language and coping with the stress and trauma that may result from their experiences, to overall integration in new environments that more often than not may be very different from those they’ve left behind.

Teaching About Refugees’ is also available as a dedicated section on the UNHCR website, providing further insights and tools for this complex phenomenon. In the words of Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, ‘Migration is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. It is part of the social fabric, part of our very make-up as a human family.’

Check also the eTwinning Featured Group: Integrating Migrant Students at School.