Job Centres can be daunting places.
“The migrants employed in our organisation are counsellors because our organisation provides counselling for migrants. We adapt to migrants linguistically and by giving them the opportunity to share their experiences; this is a challenge for us as a work method.” (Majda Hostnik).
These are the words of the head of the Info Point for Migrants. The Info Point operates as part of The Employment Service of Slovenia. It is one of the “best practices” that are highlighted in the two-year Grundtvig project “Step In! Building Inclusive Societies through Active Citizenship” which started in January 2012. The StepIn! project’s consortium is composed of educational experts and practitioners from seven different institutions (universities, research institutes, NGOs and adult education providers) from Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Scotland, Slovenia and Sweden. The project coordinator is the Leibniz University Hannover – Institute for Political Science with Prof. Dirk Lange as the principal researcher. In Slovenia the partner institution is the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
The representative further explains:
“The Employment Service of Slovenia also employs other members of vulnerable groups such as Roma, blind people etc. In this way our work is more effective because we can approach our clients more easily and offer them our services.”
A two-way process
The premise of the project is that integration is a two-way process where migrants need to adapt to the majority population of the host country and the latter has to adapt to migrants. In this way cultural exchange is possible.
However, the results of the analysis of (educational) needs conducted by StepIn! researchers in various institutions of partner host countries revealed that beside migrants also adult educators, civil servants and members of non-governmental and religious organisations need to develop intercultural competencies in order to achieve successful intercultural dialogue which is a precondition for lasting peace. The enhancement of intercultural competence is not only important to increase the capacities of solving conflicts in intercultural encounters, but also to achieve personal growth.
Promoting migrants’ active citizenship
The project aims to develop, test and disseminate innovative approaches, methods and materials to promote migrants’ active citizenship. During the project period the members of seven partner countries combine their competencies in the field of civic education, integration, and migration. The target groups of the project are (1) migrants and members of ethnic minorities, (2) members of receiving countries, especially stakeholders of public organisations and institutions, and (3) adult learning professionals and providers.
The results of the project showed that more migrants need to be employed by governmental institutions and also as adult educators.
Handbook on intercultural competences
The Step In! project’s overall objective is the development of an innovative education strategy to increase political and civic participation of migrants and ethnic minorities, and to promote active citizenship. The consortium conceptualised seven different education modules which were tested and implemented all over Europe.
Some of these modules target adult education staff. This includes intercultural training, activities and materials supporting the inclusion of excluded groups and migrants in education.
Other modules target public institutions like churches or governmental institutions, for example “intercultural competencies for staff in governmental institutions”. The modules will be included in the handbook on intercultural competences, which will be ready in autumn 2013. It will be translated into all the partners’ languages.
A five-day Grundtvig training course (GTC) will take place in November 2013 in Hannover. It will focus on the necessary skills and background knowledge for the implementation of the Step In! Modules. It is included in the Grundtvig database.
More information about the project can be found here.
This article was produced in collaboration with InfoNet adult education network.