During the transnational meeting in Aliaga, Turkey, in October 2015, the different partners involved in the Erasmus school project were very enthusiastic about the project for integration for young unaccompanied refugees which the German school in Saar-Hunsrück is involved in. The decision was made for all schools to support this charitable action with fundraising activities.
Refugees Integration project
‘The integration of young migrants by improving their language skills at an academic and social level’.
What we (the Freie Waldorf Schule Saar-Hunsrück) has decided:
We cannot remain just pure observers of events taking place in the world, but will also act within the framework of Waldorf pedagogy to bring motivation, courage and skills to children and young people. Our College of Teachers could not ignore the urgent problems and issues of our current age and felt compelled to get involved. Despite all the other obligations which form part of our daily lives, pupils, teachers and parents felt called upon to act in order to play a part in helping these young people. We want to give a new place of welcome and security to those who have been driven by war and unrest from their own country.
Where did the impetus for this project come from?
Within the framework of the Erasmus project in which our school is co-operating with four other schools, the pupils were involved intensively with this topic during a workshop at the Ringwood School. Pupils asked themselves how our schools could work together to allow these young migrants to integrate successfully. Following this initiative a group of teachers decided to look at this issue in further detail. Contact was made with the Max Braun Centre in Steinberg Deckenhardt where there are currently 54 unaccompanied young people between 12 and 17 years of age. Stefan Kunz is the contact who co-ordinates help for migrants within the town of Nohfelden.
As a result there is now has up to date information on the situation and the needs of the migrants. The project for the social integration and schooling of the migrants was born. The project was presented to the College of teachers and to parents and will be strengthened and widened. A pilot group was given the task to plan and lead the project. Those responsible are: Mrs Kirchdörfer, Mrs Koenen, Mrs Lify and Mr Valentin.
During this initial preparatory phase there were activities to see how many of the young people would be interested to integrate at the school. Mrs Lify and Mr Valentin went to the Max Braun centre to introduce the school to those interested. Then there was an introductory day to see if the young people felt they could integrate. Sixteen candidates were the result.
Which measures are planned as part of the project?
The intention of the project is to integrate 1 to 3 young people into class depending on the situation and possibilities of those classes. The admission procedure is the same as for pupils enrolling at the school from elsewhere. There will be a two week trial period and then the young people will be enrolled at the school for one year.
Obviously additional resources are necessary, bearing in mind that language learning is particularly relevant for social integration. The following measures have been planned:
Progression of the integration project
After the two week trial period, the migrant children will participate in lessons where full language competence is not necessary for communication (e.g. handwork, music, eurythmy, sport, with optional English lessons).
A second phase will see the migrant children participating in regular lessons with language support for social integration.
Follow up by Tutors
- Each pupil will be allocated a teacher-tutor to ensure they are supported. These tutors will meet weekly with the pupils to discuss with them any problems they might have and to put in place measures to solve these. The College of Teachers will be kept up to date weekly on the progress of the project
Integration support by sponsors
- In order to facilitate the integration progress, parents and pupils will sponsor a migrant enrolled at the school. This could take the form of invitations to the family home, trips out, leisure opportunities etc. Equally suitable would be offers of help with homework, help contacting specific organisations or donations targeted at those young people in need of help.
Additional projects carried out by pupils at the school
- Several pupils involved in the second cycle are active outside school in helping the refugees. They propose complementary activities such as sporting opportunities or those involving theatre or music.
Resources and Funding
We are assuming that refugee students enrolled at the school will be funded by the State in the same way other students are. Additionally we assume that the Minister for Education will grant additional funding for language courses and mentoring. A request along these lines was sent to the Minister for Education before Christmas 2015. We are awaiting confirmation.
The school has decided not to ask for additional trainers for the refugees. We are taking over this role as our school’s contribution to the integration of the refugees.
Transport costs, course materials and the courses themselves go to the Max Braun centre. Other social integration costs (sponsorship, pupil projects) are donated gifts.
Pupils participating in the Erasmus projects and workshops make items to see on the last evening of each workshop and all the money raised is used to support the integration projects.
If you have questions, ideas or proposals:
Please contact the people below, who form the pilot group for the project: