of the Committee of Ministers to member states
on strengthening the integration of children of migrants and of immigrant background
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 20 February 2008
at the 1018th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve greater unity between its members and that this aim may be pursued, in particular, through common action and the adoption of common policies in the fields of migration and youth;
Recalling the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 5) and its Protocols;
Recalling the 1996 revised European Social Charter (ETS No. 163) ;
Recalling the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child;
Recalling the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR): Learning, Teaching, Assessment and the European Language Portfolio (ELP) and their importance in developing language competence and intercultural dialogue;
Considering that the integration of migrants and persons of immigrant background is a pillar of social cohesion of European societies;
Considering that integration is an interactive process based upon mutual willingness to adapt by both migrants and the receiving society;
Considering the importance of providing equal and effective access to educational opportunities, regardless of gender, origin, social background and area of residence;
Considering that there is an urgent need in many member states to strengthen the integration of children of migrants and of immigrant background into school and society;
Considering, in particular, that access to preschool establishments is important for facilitating the socialisation and language acquisition of children of migrants and of immigrant background;
Considering, in particular, that many newly-arrived migrant children have limited proficiency in the language of instruction and a different educational experience that can impede their progress at school, and that also some children of immigrant background enter school without possessing sufficient command of the language of instruction;
Considering, in particular, that in many member states more children of immigrant background than other children leave school prematurely without a diploma or other recognised school-leaving certificate;
Considering, in particular, that many young people of immigrant background have difficulties in the successful transition from school to the labour market;
Considering that the intercultural competence of school teachers and other professionals working with children in the educational system as well as their ability to manage diversity in the classroom are of paramount importance for the successful integration of children of immigrant background at schools;
Considering that the cultural, religious and linguistic diversity of society should be respected and promoted at schools in order to promote social cohesion;
Considering that migrant parents and parents of immigrant background should be encouraged and supported in their parental role and in their efforts to facilitate the integration of their children and that, in particular, they should be involved in the schooling process of their children;
Considering that adequate information about the educational system for migrant parents and parents of immigrant background is vital in empowering them to support the educational process and school performance of their children;
Considering that the active participation of civil society and migrants’ associations in the integration of migrant children should be actively promoted;
Considering that, more generally, migrants and persons of immigrant origin should participate in drafting, adopting and implementing decisions and policies that concern their well-being and integration;
Recalling the importance of the principles of human rights, education for democratic citizenship, and intercultural competence for teachers and other professionals responsible for the welfare of children, including health and social workers,
Recommends the governments of member states, in accordance with the guidelines hereafter, introduce into their policy and practice measures to improve the integration of newly-arrived children of migrants into the educational system, provide children of migrants with adequate language skills at a preschool level, prepare children of migrants and of immigrant background approaching school-leaving age for a successful transition from school to the labour market, and overcome the difficulties faced by these children living in segregated areas and disadvantaged areas.
Concerning the communication of this recommendation and its follow-up,
Member states are encouraged to translate the present recommendation into their official language(s) so as to ensure that relevant actors fully understand its implications. Member states should, in any event, draw its principles to the attention of the public and private bodies concerned in their respective countries, via the appropriate national channels;
Member states should define indicators making it possible to measure compliance with the principles of the present recommendation and application of its provisions.
Appendix to Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)4
on strengthening the integration of children of migrants and of immigrant background
A. Language learning
1. In order to facilitate and enhance the language development of children of migrants, member states should implement measures that are adapted to the particular circumstances of these children. The overall objective of these measures should be to assist the children in acquiring the required proficiency in the language of instruction. This could include, as far as possible, the acquisition and maintenance of their mother tongue.
2. Member states should adopt the measures that are best adapted to the particular language learning needs of the specific populations of migrant children in their countries and should include the measures set out below. Where appropriate, these measures should be implemented at national, regional or local level.
i. Preschools, schools and other educational establishments should be given the necessary resources to offer additional language learning support to newly-arrived children, or to children born in the receiving country to recently-arrived parents, where the child’s command of the language of instruction is deemed insufficient.
ii Organisational and financial support should be given to the initiatives of migrants and their associations aimed at assisting newly-arrived migrant children to learn the language of instruction and to acquire the necessary academic discourse competence.
iii. Effective and adequate diagnoses of the linguistic skills of migrant children at a preschool level should be developed in accordance with the educational standards of the receiving country.
iv. Effective instruments to assess the literacy of newly-arrived migrant children should be developed with a view to being able to offer them language acquisition programmes adapted to their individual needs, including individualised (tailor-made) language support programmes.
v. Preschool establishments should be given support to adequately assess the linguistic skills of children when enrolling them and to put in place appropriate language acquisition and support programmes tailored to the needs of those children who require them.
vi. Where preschool establishments do not exist in the receiving country or in the locality where the family resides, health workers, social workers or other such professionals in contact with the family should make arrangements for an early language assessment of the children of preschool age and ensure that appropriate language enhancement measures are taken, when necessary.
vii. Collective recreation and sports activities should be organised in co-operation with migrants and their associations with a view to facilitating communication between children of different origins, both migrant and of the receiving society. These activities (for example, summer/winter camps, sport competitions, outreach activities) should involve children of different ages and take place in and outside the school. The parents of these children should be encouraged to participate and, if possible, assist in their organisation. Newly-arrived migrant children, in particular, should be actively encouraged to participate in these activities.
viii. Training schemes in work and education related language skills should be organised for children approaching the school-leaving age. The content of these training schemes should be such as to prevent an insufficient command of the language of the receiving country from becoming a barrier for school-leavers of immigrant origin to participation in the labour market. For this purpose, the training schemes should be organised in co-operation with employers and trade-unions.
B. Staff recruitment and development
3. In order to promote diversity at schools, efforts should be made to encourage persons of immigrant background to enter into the teaching profession. Teachers of immigrant background, including recent migrants, should be actively recruited and encouraged to work in schools. For this purpose, consideration should be given to setting up a simplified and accelerated procedure of recognising foreign teaching diplomas and offering special re-qualification courses to persons holding such diplomas.
4. Teachers, social and health workers and other professionals working with migrant children and children of immigrant background should have the ability to recognise and address in an appropriate manner the needs of these children. They should also be able to work effectively in a diverse ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic environment. To ensure that these professionals have the necessary skills, member states should put in place the measures set out below. These measures should be implemented, as appropriate, by relevant national, regional or local authorities in co-operation with NGOs and migrants’ associations.
i. At every stage of the professional qualification process for teachers, social and health workers and other professionals working with children of migrants and of immigrant background there should be learning opportunities to develop and test the special skills that they require. These include intercultural competence skills, skills to manage cultural differences in the classroom, peaceful conflict resolution skills, diagnostic skills to differentiate language problems from learning deficiencies, and skills to develop didactic instruments and learning strategies aimed at supporting children whose mother tongue is not that of the majority of society and/or the receiving country.
ii. Strategy development and skills relevant to intercultural learning and working with children whose mother tongue is not the language of instruction should be integral and mandatory elements of all pre-service and/or initial training qualification schemes, particularly for staff working with children of preschool age.
iii. Professionals whose initial training did not include modules relating to intercultural competence, management of cultural differences or plurilingualism should benefit from in-service training in order to equip them with the necessary practical skills and didactic tools. Professionals whose initial training did include such modules should have the opportunity to deepen their theoretical and practical knowledge by attending post-qualification and/or advanced courses.
iv. Supervision and counselling services, whether external or internal, should be made available for professionals in the field with a view to offering assistance and support in the development of general strategies and/or for dealing with individual cases.
C. Human rights, democratic citizenship and diversity
5. In order to facilitate the integration of children of migrants and children of immigrant background in both school and society, member states should ensure that the educational authorities and schools in their countries promote an atmosphere of hospitality, tolerance and respect for diversity at school. They should also assure the necessary conditions to enable these children to develop a positive image of themselves and identify positively with the receiving society. Measures relevant to the particular circumstances in each member state should be adopted, including those set out below.
i. The school curricula should, with a view to helping the children relate to the particular topics of each school subject, reflect the religious, ethnic and cultural diversity of the society and cover such issues as the history of migration and immigration into the receiving country, and the benefits of migration and cross-cultural knowledge.
ii. The school curricula should include education for democratic citizenship, human rights and intercultural competence.
iii. Teaching materials (including the content of textbooks and illustrations) should reflect the diversity of the society and affirm the fact that migrants and minorities are an integral part of it.
iv. Practical day-to-day arrangements in school should be, wherever possible, sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of children of different cultural and religious backgrounds.
v. Information campaigns that promote positive examples of integration for children through the use of role models of immigrant background should be organised from time to time.
vi. Key persons of immigrant background in the fields of politics, art, sport and entertainment should be actively recruited by schools in co-operation with NGOs to participate in activities organised for children of migrants.
D. Integration into school life
6. Member states should put in place measures aimed at ensuring that newly-arrived children of migrants are fully integrated into the national educational system and as quickly as possible. They should adopt such measures as are most suited to the particular circumstances prevailing in their countries, including the situation of the immigrant population. Government funding should be provided by the relevant national, regional or/and local authorities, where necessary, to help educational authorities and schools implement the measures. The measures should include those set out below. Where appropriate, these measures may be adapted to the needs of children of immigrant background.
7. The purposes of the measures referred to in this section are to ensure that schools identify and address as quickly as possible the particular learning needs of each child, that the child understands and settles into the school’s culture and environment as soon as possible, and that the child can benefit from the opportunities of school life on a basis of equality with other children.
i. Schools should guide migrant children in their studies, help them develop appropriate learning skills and abilities and prevent the emergence of learning-related difficulties.
ii. In the absence of an already existing general framework that provides for the individual profiling of children with a view to identifying their strengths and potential and developing personalised support programmes, educational authorities should arrange for local schools to carry out such profiling of migrant children, particularly with a view to ensuring that they attain the required level of knowledge and proficiency in specific subjects.
iii. Teaching styles and methods should be adapted to the personal needs and learning experiences of the newly-arrived migrant child.
iv. Schools should consider inviting university and/or teacher training institutions to co-operate with them in providing migrant children with the necessary support and assistance in learning difficult subjects. Schools should also consider inviting students enrolled in these institutions to provide voluntary support to these children in following the school curricula.
v. During the early stages of their school career and for a limited period of time only, educational authorities might consider making arrangements for migrant children to be able to undertake parts of their studies in their mother tongue as this will assist the children in developing the cognitive and academic skills necessary to successfully pursue their studies in the language of instruction.
vi. Different methods of offering assistance and support to newly-arrived migrant children by their fellow pupils (for example, mentoring schemes or peer learning) should be actively promoted and facilitated by educational authorities and schools.
vii. In the absence of an already existing general system of monitoring of the progress of children in school, educational authorities and schools should establish a system of constant monitoring of the progress of migrant children (especially newly-arrived migrant children) with a view to preventing them from dropping out of school and to supporting their social integration.
8. In order to ensure that all migrant children leave school with a recognised qualification (for example, diploma, certificate) and that they have a real chance of pursuing a successful career afterwards, educational authorities, in co-operation with NGOs and migrant associations, should encourage the return to school of those children who have dropped out and/or abandoned their studies. Where appropriate, this might be achieved through closer co-operation with the child’s parents and offering flexible modes of learning (for example, part-time school attendance).
E. Civil society, migrants and their associations
9. Civil society and, in particular, migrants’ associations should be actively encouraged to support the integration of migrant children into both school life and the wider society. To do this, member states should put in place such measures as they consider appropriate including those set out below. Where necessary, these measures should benefit from appropriate public funding.
i. Regular forms of consultation and participation (for example, councils and round tables) should be put in place with a view to developing and maintaining co-operation between schools, relevant authorities (social and health authorities) and civil society, including migrants and their associations.
ii. Migrants and their associations should be encouraged to organise the following initiatives in co-operation with local authorities and schools:
– language courses for children of preschool age;
– participation of migrant children as mentors in mentoring schemes for newly-arrived children of migrants;
– preparation of children approaching school-leaving age for the labour market;
– information campaigns and cultural events involving all children (migrants and non-migrants alike) and aimed at promoting awareness of cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.
10. School buildings should be made available to migrants and their associations outside school hours (evenings and weekends) for the purpose of organising collective social, sport and cultural activities with the participation of migrant children.
F. Support for parents of migrant children
11. In order to facilitate the integration of children of migrants into both school life and the wider society, member states should put in place measures to support and strengthen the parental role of migrant parents and parents of immigrant background. They should adopt such measures as are most suited to the particular circumstances prevailing in their countries and the situation of the immigrant population, including the measures set out below. The general policy of member states should be to promote the financial independence of migrant parents through appropriate social, employment, education and training measures.
i. Preschool institutions, in co-operation with migrants and their associations, should organise regular joint activities for parents and children with a view to encouraging language learning by children of preschool age through play and creative pursuits.
ii. Co-operation between parents and schools should be developed, including joint activities at school involving parents and children (both migrants and non-migrants) and that focus on developing language skills and cultural exchanges (for example, day trips, cultural events and sports activities).
iii. Schools should offer migrant parents advice and guidance in the form of one-to-one or group consultations and, if possible, training with a view to enhancing the parents’ capacity to assist in their children’s education, development and integration. In giving guidance and counselling to migrant parents, their views on parenting and educational policies should be taken into account. Local authorities should consider organising groups of parents (both migrants and non-migrants) to discuss parenting, educational policies and other issues relevant to the upbringing and welfare of their children.
iv. Migrant parents should be given the opportunity to learn the language of instruction of their children.
v. Migrant parents should be encouraged to participate actively in school events and activities together with their children.
vi. Migrant parents should be actively included in the permanent and regular mechanisms of communication and information exchange between schools, parents and local communities (for example councils, regular consultations).
vii. Educational authorities and schools should provide information for migrant parents, particularly for newly-arrived migrants, about the national school system, including its organisation, opportunities for preschool education, conditions for enrolment, the curricula, examinations and the rights and obligations of parents and their children. Several means of making this information available and targeting it to migrant parents should be considered, for example, parents’ meetings, brochures, leaflets and videos/DVDs. Migrants and their associations should be encouraged to disseminate this information. The information should be provided in a manner that can be easily understood by the parents.
viii. Relevant national, local and/or regional authorities should provide information to newly-arrived migrant parents regarding the opportunities available to them to participate in working and community life as well as on the possibilities of becoming financially independent.
G. Facilitating transition from school to the labour market
12. In order to ensure a smooth transition from school to the labour market, develop the child’s full potential and avoid unemployment, member states should put in place measures for the benefit of children of migrants and of immigrant background who are approaching school-leaving age and young people seeking employment or having recently found employment. These measures should be adapted to the conditions prevailing in member states and include those set out below.
i. Young migrants should be entitled to information, advisory, guidance and counselling services that are provided by education and employment authorities to support them in developing career management skills necessary to enter and successfully perform in the labour market.
ii. Advisory, guidance and counselling services should include information on apprenticeships and mentoring schemes. These services may include a permanent staff member appointed as a career advisor with special responsibility for particularly disadvantaged children, including migrant children, and career development centres for young people that involve both the relevant education and employment authorities.
iii. Education authorities and schools should consider offering, in appropriate cases, flexible study arrangements (for example, evening classes, part-time school attendance, combined study and work schemes).
iv. Public authorities should encourage employers, particularly in areas and/or sectors where recruitment through informal networks is prevalent, to organise workplace induction schemes with a view to giving them an opportunity to meet future school leavers and assess their knowledge, skills and aptitude.
v. Mentoring schemes, particularly for newly-arrived migrant children in their final years of school, should be encouraged and supported through, for example, financial incentives, making available specialised staff and recruiting retired and/or senior employees to act as mentors.
vi. Public authorities and NGOs should work directly with private industry and public employers to raise awareness of the possible discriminatory consequences of their recruitment procedures in relation to young school leavers of immigrant origin and of the need to take appropriate action. In this respect, particular attention should be given to ensuring their effective access to apprenticeships and other workplace training schemes.
H. Children living in segregated areas and disadvantaged areas
13. The specific problems of children of migrants and of immigrant background living in segregated areas and disadvantaged areas should be addressed in the context of a coherent and comprehensive strategy for managing the problems of these areas. Local authorities should take measures to ensure that children grow up in a safe and attractive environment.
14. Schools in segregated and disadvantaged areas must be able to offer high quality education if they are to attract children and parents of different social and ethnic background and thereby halt and reverse the process of marginalisation and deprivation. It is important, therefore, that they receive the necessary support from the relevant public authorities (national, regional and local) and the local community to do so.
15. The various measures described in sections A to G of this appendix have particular importance for children of migrants and of immigrant background living in segregated areas and disadvantaged areas. Member states should, however, consider adapting and supplementing these measures as appropriate in order to help these children overcome the special difficulties of their environment. Member states should, in particular, consider implementing the measures set out below.
i. Language support measures should be strengthened in the schools in these areas. Local associations, voluntary and migrant organisations should also be encouraged to provide supplementary language activities outside school.
ii. Training in non-violent conflict resolution for staff working with children in these areas and for the children themselves should be organised by the appropriate authorities with the support and participation of NGOs and migrants’ associations.
iii. Children should be encouraged by local authorities to participate actively in the work of their local youth councils.
iv. Local authorities should encourage schools to promote links between children of different social and ethnic backgrounds and from different areas.
v. Local authorities should ensure that children have the necessary space to learn and play, both at home and outside. They should provide and maintain suitable playgrounds and sports facilities, and organise community events for children.
vi. Local authorities should encourage employers from outside segregated areas and disadvantaged areas to employ young people from these areas and, where appropriate, consider setting aside a number of reserved apprenticeship places for them.
vii. National and local authorities should provide the necessary resources to facilitate the design and implementation of special staff development programmes for people working in nurseries, preschool institutions and schools in segregated areas and disadvantaged areas.