Priorities Of The Project
Improving European education, training system quality, and inclusion in the European society of all the different students has been set as a key target in Europe’s strategy to become a smart, sustainable, and inclusive economy by 2020 (Council of the European Union, 2010). These objectives are more specifically defined in the so-called Modernization Agenda (EC 2011).
The project described here is an inter-cultural one. Our main objective is to facilitate the inclusion of all these different students and their families in school life and in the community as well. We prefer the word “inclusion” to “integration” as it is a word that means acceptance and recognition of one’s culture and identity rather than “integration” that for us has the meaning of losing the identity of the culture that one brings to a new country and embracing a new identity. So, inclusive education is what we aim for. We have focused on these priorities because all schools involved in the project have a high number of students that come from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is due to different factors: they live in rural areas, because of economic reasons or high rates of unemployment and they are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Our schools come from different levels of the educational system, from primary to secondary. For us, this is of utmost importance as our target groups are the students no matter in which level or age they are. Young students or older students will be equally addressed by this project as the problems and difficulties they face are common. They need to adapt as well their everyday life to accept the changes that the new situation brings and to learn how to coexist with other people of different cultures.
During the last couple of years, the European Union is being faced with one of the most complex situations since its formation: a financial crisis and the waves of immigrants and refugees that arrive at the European countries by thousands, mixed with people who live in poverty and local people, so in our schools coexist local students and students with a disadvantaged background. This overwhelming financial crisis poses many immediate challenges that should be addressed at different levels within the European Union. And clearly one of the biggest challenges in the years to come is how the EU will manage to integrate the men, women, and children who remain in Europe after the crises subside; this will be the real long-term test for EU policymakers and EU communities, in general. The inclusion of disadvantaged students in Europe has seen a plethora of academic and policy prescriptions; this fact itself shows that there are few absolute answers to this challenge that the EU will face in the years to come. It is worth noticing that international human rights law does not address explicitly the inclusion issue and the rights to non-discrimination and equality appear to be the cornerstones for a successful inclusion policy.