Terre des hommes foundation in partnership with Prahova County School Inspectorate organised on 20 May 2022, in Bucharest, an event dedicated to migrant children within ICAM project (Inclusion of Children Affected by Migration).
The 90 teachers who participated in the event discussed the refugee children situation, particularly the Ukrainian children arrived in Romania, their educational and psycho-emotional needs, methods of integration into the Romanian education system and difficulties they have to go through.
The main difficulty identified by participants is the language barrier. State Secretary Florin Lixandru (Ministry of Education) stated that currently there are 250 Ukrainian speaking teachers in Romania, in various counties. In Bucharest there are three educational centres with Ukrainian teachers: ”Mihai Viteazul” National College,”Ienăchiță Văcărescu” Secondary School and „Uruguay” Secondary School. The intention is to organise 4-6 weeks intensive Romanian language courses in order to facilitate integration of migrant children into the Romanian education system. Also, solutions are being discussed in view of employing Ukrainian teachers living in Romania, the State Secretary emphasised.
The participating teachers shared their experience related to integration of migrant children into the schools where they work: “The staff of schools where Ukrainian children are integrated as guest students reacted with empathy. Main problem is the language barrier, but we know colleagues who use google translate quite frequently. Kindergarten children use play language, and they adapt easier to school children company.“
Participants appreciated the importance of this event which encourages them and supports their effort: “This conference is very helpful because it shows us we are not alone on a road that we don’t know much about. Dialogue and cooperation are essential for updating the way in which we adapt our activities to the needs of children affected by migration. We try to do the best in the schools where we work.’’
Along with their teachers, Romanian children from schools and kindergartens showed their empathy with their Ukrainian colleagues through support messages: “Are you sad because you are leaving your country? Come to me and i will help you!” (Rafa- 5 years) , “If needed, we will make space for you in our kindergarten.” (Ayan- 3 years), “Don’t worry! It will be peace!” (Teo- 4 years), “I want to cheer you up, give you a kiss and i would like us to sing many beautiful songs together.” (Lăcrămioara- 4 years)
The solutions proposed by the participants included psychological assistance aimed at reducing trauma effects, quick procedures for the Ukrainian guest students to register as students in Romania, funds for the Ukrainian teachers willing to work in the Romanian education system. .
A specific methodology was developed within ICAM project which aims at changing European schools into more friendly and more inclusive environments for migrant children. This methodology is considered the best school practice by the European Union.
ICAM project is funded by EU Erasmus+ programme. Terre des hommes România foundation is part of this project along with The Northampton Centre for Learning Behaviour (NCfLB), ACCESophia from Spain, ICARO from Italy, Prahova County School Inspectorate - România (ISJPh), Eurochild from Belgium, their associated partners from every country and some of the best school inclusion professionals.