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2022, vol. 56, br. 1, str. 234-259
Istraživanje prepreka za uključivanje dece prisilnih migranata u sistem osnovnog obrazovanja u Srbiji
Univerzitet u Nišu, Filozofski fakultet, Departman za sociologiju, Srbija

e-adresamarija.96g@gmail.com
Ključne reči: deca prisilni migranti; osnovno obrazovanje; obrazovni sistem; Republika Srbija
Sažetak
Kroz Srbiju je od 2015. godine prošlo 1,5 miliona migranata i izbeglica, pri čemu su deca činila jednu četvrtinu ovog broja. Zbog dužeg zadržavanja na teritoriji Srbije javila se, između ostalog, potreba da se oni uključe u obrazovni sistem. Cilj istraživanja bilo je utvrđivanje faktora koji dovode do stvaranja prepreka za uključivanje dece prisilnih migranata u osnovno obrazovanje u Srbiji, kao i tokom procesa obrazovanja, a samim tim i kako se te prepreke prevazilaze u praksi. Kroz polustrukturirane intervjue prikupljeni su podaci o iskustvu rada u nastavi sa decom prisilnim migrantima u Osnovnoj školi "Ljupče Španac" u Beloj Palanci. Učesnice istraživanja bile su učiteljice ove škole koje su školske 2018/19. imale po prvi put iskustvo u radu sa decom prisilnim migrantima. Rezultati istraživanja su pokazali da je potrebna veća sistemska podrška za uključivanje dece prisilnih migranata u obrazovanje, pri čemu se kao jedna od najvećih prepreka izdvaja jezička barijera - u komunikaciji sa decom, ali i roditeljima.

Introduction

Migrations imply the movement of population from one place to another within one, two or several different countries. Migrations may be voluntary when they are encouraged by the desire for better education of access to a better healthcare system, but people are often forced to leave their country of origin due to war conflicts, climate change or natural disasters, and those are forced migrations (Katipoğlu & Şimşek & Gündüz, 2018, p. 27; Lee, 1966, p. 52). In the context of this paper, we will use the definition of a migrant provided by the United Nations - that a migrant is any person who spends more than one year in a foreign country/foreign countries, regardless of the whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary, or what the causes for the movement are - regular or irregular (IOM, 2011, p. 62). In Serbia, the dominant ones are irregular and forced migrants, while Serbia is a transit country on their way. In the migrant category, children are a particularly vulnerable group. According to Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child means "every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier" (UNICEF, 1989). Forced migrant children can be accompanied children, unaccompanied children and separated children. Accompanied children are those who left their country of origin with their parents and travel with them, while unaccompanied children are those travelling without parents or other relatives who should look after them according to the law or customs. Separated children are those who have been separated from their parents, but travel in the company of their adult relatives (IOM, 2011, p. 16).

Although the Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection has been in force since 2008, two children asylum seekers were enrolled for the first time in a primary school in Serbia during the academic 2012/13 year. The number increased from year to year, so that seven children were enrolled in 2014, thirty in 2015, and 101 children in 2017, while 503 children attended classes at school in 2018 and 83 in collective centres. However, despite this progress, a large number of children have been excluded from the education process both due to their short stay in the territory of the Republic of Serbia and numerous obstacles accompanying the inclusion of migrant children in education (Jovanovic, 2019, p. 11). Apart from access to high-quality education, migrant children should also be provided with the aid in language learning, as well as with substantial socio-economic support. In addition, their inclusion in education also requires the provision of help in adapting to the new school and living environment (European Commission, 2019, p. 13). In that respect, apart from children, teachers also encounter numerous obstacles.

With a large number of children, adolescents and young among the population of forced migrants who, according to UNICEF data, account for one quarter of the total number of forced migrants, education is the key element of their structural integration for several reasons (UNICEF, 2016). First of all, the right to education is a universal human right, and all children and youth must have access to the education system regardless of their country of origin and citizenship status. Moreover, education is the key to socio-economic progress (Koehler & Schneider, 2019, p. 2). If migrant children have no opportunity to continue their education and progress on the social ladder in the country they migrated to, a question arises about the purpose of their departure from the country of origin if we take into account that the majority of children from migrant population have no opportunity to receive or continue education in their own countries or to provide better living conditions for themselves. Last, but not least, is the role of education in the fulfilment of social and emotional needs of children who have had the experience of both regular migrations and migrations in general.

Inclusion in the education system reduces the risks posed by the migrant or refugee status, such as human trafficking or forced labour (Save the Children, 2018, p. 7; Ereş, 2016, p. 65). Education ensures the children's proper development, establishes continuity and routine in everyday life, but also ensures and facilitates integration in the community of the host country. Still, despite its importance, migrant children encounter numerous obstacles on their way to education.

Obstacles in including migrant children in the education system

First of all, in order to be included in the education system, migrant children must overcome administrative and legal obstacles. They vary from country to country and depend on the legal status of migrant children or their current status in the asylum seeking process. It is particularly difficult to enrol those children who have not attended school at all in the country of origin. Those are the children who, based on the degree of their previous knowledge, should be enrolled in the first grade although they are sometimes much older than the enrolment age. In addition, the absence of documents about the previously acquired education is emphasized by teachers and educators who have worked with migrant children in Serbia (Đorđević & Šantić & Živković, 2018, p. 86).

The greatest risk from exclusion from the education system it posed to those children who are not asylum seekers or do not possess personal documents. Only seven European Union member-states (Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden) allow access to the education system to children with the unresolved status, while three countries (Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania) have explicitly excluded or limited the right to education for this group of children. Speaking of children asylum seekers, they have been legally given access to the education system of the host country, whereas in some cases the education process itself can proceed inside asylum centres instead of regular schools (UNHCR & UNICEF & IOM, 2019, p. 4; Save the Children, 2018, p. 27; Ingleby & Merry, 2013, p. 33). In Serbia, the inclusion of migrant children in the education system has been promoted and supported by official institutions, as well as numerous non-governmental and international organizations, whereas it implied both inclusion in the formal education and the provision of informal education within private and asylum centres (UNICEF, 2018, p. 4).

A great problem in the education of forced migrant children is also posed by the lack of human and financial resources. There are not enough places in schools or opportunities for additional classes; the budgets are limited and there is no teacher and educator training for working with migrant children, particularly in the areas of work with students who need additional psychological support and aid in language learning (UNHCR & UNICEF & IOM, 2019, p. 9). A frequently advocated attitude is that schools receiving a larger number of migrants should receive larger financial support in order to overcome more easily the barriers encountered in the education process of migrant children. However, this recommendation is often not implemented in practice, and schools and teachers work with the resources that are generally available to them, but neither insufficient nor adequate for working with migrant children. The research conducted in Greece, where the sample was made up of the teachers working with migrant children, shows that this work also implies plenty of improvisation because there are no adequate and adapted textbooks and teaching materials (Katipoglu & Şimşek & Gunduz, 2018, p. 28; Papapostolou & Manoli & Mouti, 2020, p. 13).

The children undergoing the migration experience often need additional psychological support, primarily because of the stress and trauma they suffered in the country of origin, while travelling as well as in the country of their destination. To the children whose lives have been changed due to forced and illegal migrations and war conflicts in the country of origin, school is the first place where their lives will return to normal. School means order, peace, safety and friendship (Celik, 2020, p. 84). Most children successfully adapt to new living conditions and recovers quickly after having their essential living and psychological needs were fulfilled. However, due to the previous absence from school because of long travel and stress during it or the loss of relatives and everyday routine, migrant children may have problems with concentration, motivation for learning and therefore need specialized psychological help (Koehler & Schneider, 2019, p. 10; UNHCR, 2019, p. 28). Despite the existence of such need, the resources are often insufficient for providing additional psychological support to migrant children.

Stress among migrant children may also be caused by the cultural shock. The cultural shock concept has been used since 1950s to explain the situation when people are exposed to a different culture, foreign to them, and feel confused and disoriented. Exposure to a foreign culture can be useful, but also stressful and harmful (Maufakkir, 2013, p. 323). The greater the differences between cultures, the greater the cultural shock will be. Although the cultural shock is primarily considered negative, Alfred Adler is one of the theoreticians who find it an excellent opportunity for getting to know other cultures and for personal development (Adler, 1975, p. 14).

Turkey received the first refugees from Syria in 2011, establishing the "open door" policy, so it was an ideal country for refugee families because of social, economic and political circumstances, but also because of cultural similarities, which reduced the cultural shock and enabled easier and more successful integration (Gomleksiz & Aslan, 2018, p. 46). The degree of social distance between the culture of the country of origin and that of the country of destination also affects education accomplishments and the adaptation process. Social distance is founded on the differences between cultural values, socio-economic background and physical features of members of different cultures (Dronkers & de Heus, 2012, p. 8). It is exactly why, in the integration of migrant children in the education system, it is important to direct attention towards similarities between the culture they come from and the culture they are now in, as well as the cultural interaction that would imply mutual familiarization with different cultural identities. Naturally, it should be emphasized that in Turkey the children from Syria also encountered problems in the education process. The biggest obstacle was the unfamiliar language, as well as the absence of the school curriculum adequate for the newly arriving children. Moreover, the problem was also posed by the parents' lack of interest in their children's education, but also the insufficient preparedness of teachers to face a number of challenges brought by the work with migrant children (Gokce & Kilıç, 2018, p. 488).

An intercultural approach in the education of migrant children, as well as in education in general, would reduce harmful effects of numerous prejudice and stereotypes about migrants. It is not rare that the local population protests because of the enrolment of migrant children in regular schools. When the population is not informed and adequately prepared, there may be situations like the one in Šid1, when the parents were taken aback by the new situation and showed their disagreement by protesting. These situations arise when local population has no sufficient information, when it is not duly informed, as well as due to various (dis)information by the media and social networks.

Newspaper headlines most frequently mention the word "migrant" along with the descriptions such as "aggressive and cruel barbarians", "locals in fear", "Islamists", "terrorists", "rapists", "an enormous number of them" etc. On many occasions, there has been information about many migrants staying in reception centres, which makes domicile population leave their homes, but such information always proves to be false. The information about the number of migrants can at all times be checked up on the website of the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia, as well as in the reports of numerous non-governmental and international organizations such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM). One of the most common biases is that migrants are young single men. This supports the idea of migrants as terrorist, and that is why women and children seem to be invisible. The trend that there are more male migrants began in 2019, while until then migrants had been mostly families from Syria. In 2019, out of 140,000 asylum applications in Germany, 20% were filed by women, 30% by men, while children accounted for 50% (Milinkov et al., 2021, p. 42).

Language barrier constitutes one of the biggest obstacles to education and integration of migrant children. Forced migrations start in countries like Somalia, Ghana, Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan and other African or Central Asian countries. English stands out as lingua franca in the migrants' communication with the population in their countries of destination. However, since it is not the native language of either involved party, the communication always proceeds with difficulty (Nishanti, 2020, p. 77). Languages such as Pashto, Dari, Arabic, Tigrinya and Somali are, except for some rare cases, unfamiliar in the European countries. Starting from the fact that a language is perceived as the first identifier of (non) belonging to a certain group, the language barrier is an almost insurmountable obstacle in the communication with migrants, particularly within the context of education.

Additional language support to forced migrant children is scarce, but at the same time indispensable for overcoming this barrier. Migrant children most often do not know the language used at school well enough to learn the subject content. Another problem is low interest in learning the languages of transit countries such as Serbia, Greece or Bulgaria, as well as the absence of textbooks for migrant children (UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM, p. 7). In order to improve success in language learning, but also of school accomplishment on the whole, it is necessary to encourage learning the host country language, while simultaneously keeping up the use of the native language among migrant children. In this manner, children integrate better in the new culture, while at the same time they do not neglect their native language and remain close to their parents' culture. This is of particular importance because of the ambivalence felt by migrant children who grow up in a foreign culture between the need for integration and frequent insistence of their parents on observing the rules of the native culture (Katipoglu & Şimşek & Gunduz, 2018, p. 28; Ereş, 2016, p. 68).

Furthermore, a huge problem is that not all teachers in Serbian schools can speak English, which complicates their communication with migrant children, so they often get the greatest help from other students. On the other hand, there are also migrant children who speak only their native language, so the interpreter's help is necessary (Đorđević & Šantić & Živković, 2018, p. 86). Better language skills can not only facilitate and improve the learning process, but also increase the opportunities in the labour market after the completed education process (Whitaker, 2010, p. 4).

One of the examples of positive practice that facilitates overcoming the language barrier is also the introduction of cultural mediators and interpreters in the classroom, thus enabling the children's learning process, as well as their communication and socialization. It should be taken into account that such practice may be a two-edged sword. The presence of a person with whom a child communicates in the native language in the classroom can slow down his/her integration in the community, reduce the encouragement to communicate with teachers and other participants on his/her own, and make him/her dependent on another person. Moreover, it should be noted that the service is not always and everywhere available to children. Most children who have attended school in Serbia emphasize the mitigating circumstance that their teachers and educators presented the subject content through concrete examples and using different teaching methods. In that manner, they not only mastered the language more easily, but also gained everyday practical knowledge (Đorđević & Šantić & Živković, 2018, p. 88).

As regards the language barrier, another problem can be singled out - communication with parents of forced migrant children. Insufficient communication between teachers and parents is a problem that should not be neglected, and whose cause may be parents' unfamiliarity with the language, but also parents' financial problems, disinterest in children's education and planning to continue their journey to the target country (Ereş, 2016, p. 68). Nevertheless, parents' inclusion in their children's education has positive importance and effect on their school success and adaptation. It is very important that the cooperation should be mutual and that it implies parents' interest in their children's school activities, but also the openness of teachers and the school for cooperating with parents.

Migrant children are often absent from school, and that is mostly the case with unaccompanied children who are not supervised by parents or adult relatives (Ennab, 2017, p. 4). That is exactly why it is important, when it comes to children accompanied by their parents or relatives, to establish a good cooperation with them and use this advantage, because the family's involvement in children's education and its support contribute to students' motivation and encourage their success. Parents of migrant children often have little knowledge of the opportunities for their children's behaviour, which reduces the chances for successful guidance of children towards acquiring education, both in transit countries and in the country of destination (Dronkers & de Heus, 2012, p. 3). Speaking of unaccompanied children, it is necessary to work with children and point out the relevance of education for their further life and success, thus encouraging their interest in school.

A huge obstacle to education of migrant children is also the location of reception centres they stay in, which are most often located in rural areas, thus largely making access to education institutions harder. When those reception centres are far from the school, children and parents need logistic support in the form of transport from the reception centre to school and back. Another problem is that children frequently move during the procedure of getting the asylum from one reception centre to another, as well as concentration on planning the rest of the journey.

Research methodology

According to previous theoretical considerations, the following obstacles in education of forced migrants can be distinguished, administrative and legal obstacles in enrolment of migrant children in school, the absence of human and financial resources for the implementation of an adequate teaching process, the need and the lack of opportunities for providing psychological support, prejudice and stereotypes about migrant population and the language barrier. The research was aimed at determining factors that lead to the creation of obstacles in including forced migrant children in the primary education in Serbia and during the education process, as well as how to overcome such obstacles in practice. The research was conducted in September 2021 and, having in mind that due to the current Coronavirus pandemic there have been changes in the education system, it is important to stress that the research refers to the period prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. Primary School "Ljupče Španac" is located in the territory of the Municipality of Bela Palanka. In its vicinity, in the village of Divljana, there is a reception centre "Divljana" where migrant families from Afghanistan and Iraq stayed in 2017/18. On 29th September 2017, the school enrolled 23 children from the reception centre - 13 children were in grades 1 to 4 and 10 children in grades 5 to 8. Information about the school work with the children from migrant population was collected by the semi-structured interview with three teachers and from the documentation provided by the school principal about the work with migrant children. All the interviewed teachers have over 25 years of teaching experience, as well as of working with children from socially vulnerable groups. In their interviews they spoke about the experience of working with forced migrant children they met for the first time in academic 2018/19. Since this is a sensitive and relatively new topic, and the respondents are not easily available, qualitative methodology was applied. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, which enabled obtaining information about the obstacles in education of forced migrant children, as well as other relevant experiences and insights of the research participants regarding this topic. The semi-structured interview form was chosen because it ensures a conversation by the previously defined reminder, with the conversation topics, but it also gives an opportunity for changing the order of the questions or for asking questions outside the conversation reminder, depending on the course of the conversation. The conducted interviews were semi-structured, with the focus on the above-listed key dimensions for the inclusion of migrant children. With the aid of the software for qualitative data analysis (QDA Miner), after the transcription, the collected data were coded by the defined conversation topics, and then the data analysis was performed.

Research results

According to the provided documentation, the age, gender and ethnic structure of the children attending school was as follows, nine girls and fourteen boys were enrolled - four girls and nine boys in grades 1 to 4 and five girls and five boys in grades 5 to 8. Two girls and three boys came from Iraq, while seven girls and eleven boys were from Afghanistan. The school made the Action plan for accepting migrant children; class teachers and other teachers working with migrant children filed monthly narrative reports on the children's progress, and the records were kept of numerous activities the children were included in, as proved by the narrative reports and photographs. For each child a separate portfolio was made where the teachers kept both schoolwork and homework of migrant children.

Although for access to education it is first necessary to overcome legal and administrative obstacles, in Bela Palanka migrant children started attending primary school on 29th September without major procedural difficulties. It should be noted that those were the children accompanied by their parents, with the previous level of knowledge corresponding to their age, which are the factors that substantially facilitate their inclusion in the education system. According to the report of the coordinator for the work with migrant children, only one child was transferred to a lower grade due to the difficulties in learning the subject content and with the parents' consent.

One of frequently emphasized major problems is the animosity of the local population towards migrant population. There were no incidents in Bela Palanka, but the interviewed teachers indicate that the parents' attitude could be seen from the children's behaviour. In addition, there were never pressures exerted on the children in relation to the acceptance of migrant children.

"The parents' meeting was called and we had found out beforehand that they were coming and at that meeting the parents were informed about the migrant children's arrival. We explained that the children were accommodated in Divljana, that everything was fine, and that it was up to us to accept them properly and that the relations and atmosphere in the classroom would depend on us. The parents generally accepted it in good faith and there were no problems at all. Of course, there are children who are trying hard to socialize with the migrant children and those who were a little uninterested. We never pressurized anyone because that also comes from home - there are people who, despite their consent, actually have plenty of prejudice. " (Biljana, 30 years of teaching experience)2

This is what the interviewed teacher writes in one of her reports about the relations between the children in the classroom,

"The school principal brought two boys who were cordially welcomed by the children - they immediately offered them where to sit. I was pleased when the children offered help so that their new friends could find their way around the school and in the class work."

No school employees had any previous experience of working with migrant children, but from the teachers' answers to the question as to how they prepared and what the training for working with migrant children was like, it can be seen that the migrant children's inclusion in the education system started not only with no previous experience but also with no specific plan - everyone was on unfamiliar terrain. This also confirms the thesis that the lack of human resources is one of the greatest obstacles in education of migrant children. According to the report of the coordinator for the work with migrants, the teachers and educators attended the greatest part of their training for the work with the children from migrant population simultaneously with teaching those children in class.

“The training sessions took place at weekends and I had the feeling that no one knew anything. No one had any experience. First, the very language barrier [...] The seminars were more like exchanging our experiences in order to see how other refugee camps or other schools functioned. We were asked to file reports about everything we did and I think that the seminars served to get a complete picture about them through our experiences, because no one knew what to do and how.” (Biljana, 30 years of teaching experience)

“Of course I had no experience in working with migrant children. They came to our school at the end of September and we had never had any migrant children at school before. In a conversation with the school principal, we were prepared and instructed about what to expect. We got the basic information about the children and advice as to how to prepare both the students and their parents for the new arrivals.” (Nela, 30 years of teaching experience)

The teachers describe the migrant children attending their classes as cheerful, hard-working, obedient and friendly. They point out that they were aware of what these children could have experienced during their journey, but that in their behaviour and interaction in class they did not show any need for additional psychological support. Accordingly, these teachers did not initiate the conversation about the migration experience. The school was also visited by the psychologist from non-governmental organizations who worked with migrant children.

“The children were cheerful and nice, with no problems. You couldn’t see what they had been through. As for those experiences, I didn’t ask them too many questions because I didn’t know how much I would actually delve into the children’s psyche by them. They should be allowed to speak about it if they are willing to. They were really cheerful.” (Biljana, 30 years of teaching experience)

The language barrier was the first problem pointed out by the teachers, both in the communication with the children and with their parents. Insufficiently good knowledge of English among the teachers and children, as well as no knowledge of Arabic/Farsi among the teachers made the work with those children harder. The easiest subject to teach was Maths, while teaching Nature and Society, which requires the advanced language knowledge, was rather difficult. One of the teachers stresses that, having in mind that other children in class have already learned English for four years, so they were the ones who actually helped the migrant children most. Out of the total of 23 migrant children attending Primary School "Ljupče Španac", five of them spoke Arabic, and eighteen of them Farsi. In their work with migrant children, the teachers used the demonstration method, visual method and dramatization method for the purpose of better understanding and learning the subject content.

“I didn’t learn English at school. That is what made things rather difficult. I know only a few basic phrases and now I want to explain to them how to do something in maths, e.g. the polygon. So I told them just to sit and watch because I couldn’t explain it in English. Other children helped me a lot because they had already learned English for 4 years. They also picked up a lot of English from computer games and cartoons.” (Biljana, 30 years of teaching experience)

“We somehow managed to communicate – speaking a little English, but also making signs and gestures.” (Danijela, 28 years of teaching experience)

The interviewed teacher writes the following in her report about the work and communication with migrant children,

“We had great difficulty in pronouncing one another’s names. We communicated in Serbian and in English and with a lot of gesturing and mimics.”

The communication with the parents was at the satisfactory level taking into account the existence of a significant language barrier, but, first of all, the teachers emphasize that the support given by the parents to their children in the education process is much more important. They also stress that they contacted on a daily basis the employees in the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia. These employees worked in the reception centre and the teachers had an excellent cooperation with them. This, among other things, also emphasizes the importance of good cooperation among all actors included in the work with migrant children in order to make the education process a positive and successful experience for them. These statements point to the relevance of support of the parents of migrant children for their inclusion in education, as well as the relevance of good cooperation and communication between teachers and parents.

“The parents were supportive and ready to cooperate, but the children were exceptional as well. Namely, we held that general parents’ meeting where the migrant parents came and had the interpreter’s help. We met and exchanged our opinions. Afterwards, the communication proceeded through the people from the Commissariat. If the children needed something or had to go somewhere or something like that, or if they were sick – we communicated with the Commissariat. Of course, they told us what the parents said and the other way round. I had to inform them where to bring the children in case we were outside the school or going to some performances or extracurricular activities… They were always there for everything. I am sure that they helped their children with homework.” (Biljana, 30 years of teaching experience)

"We were somewhat left to our own means, but, on the other hand, we had everyday help of the volunteers and the people from the camp who worked for the Commissariat. We really needed help. I needed special help because I worked with the youngest children, in the first grade." (Nela, 30 years of teaching experience)

An important segment of successful inclusion of migrant children in the education system of the host country that is often mentioned is the intercultural approach as it is extremely productive. One of the teachers lists examples of the mutual learning about the cultures by the children from Afghanistan and the children from Serbia. She points out that this approach primarily had a positive effect on the migrant children because through the opportunity of presenting their language and culture to others they became more motivated for learning and more pleased with their stay at school, and also more encouraged to learn Serbian. In this manner, the children were able to learn something about Serbian culture, but also to present their own culture to their classmates, which reduced negative aspects of cultural differences and facilitated the integration of migrant children in the environment they are staying in.

"For example, we wrote words in Serbian, then in English, and then they would write those words in Farsi. They found it interesting because we were also learning from them. They were in the 4th grade, when they got the subject Nature and Society. We drew our and their flag, coat-of-arms, and listed to our and their national anthem… Then we placed both flags in our classroom. I asked them to write "welcome" in English, Serbian, Pashto and Farsi. I still keep those things in the classroom," (Biljana, 30 years of teaching experience)

"They organized a performance in the camp for us - we were their guests. And that was a great and emotional experience for me. Their culture and dancing - they were so happy to be able to present something of their own and we enjoyed ourselves. There we had different roles - they were not our students, but instead they taught us something about their culture. That was the opportunity to socialize outside the school and we also visited the camp for Bairam. " (Biljana, 30 years of teaching experience).

Conclusion

School-age migrant children have a substantial share in the population of irregular migrants, and that is why the right to education is one of the rights the exercise of which was and is intensively worked on. The right to education is not only one of universal human rights, but also the key element in the structural integration of children from migrant population. In Serbia, the first migrant children were enrolled in school in academic 2012/13 year - only two of them, but their number constantly increased in the following years. Including migrant children in the education system is a rather complex process that poses numerous obstacles both to migrant children and to their teachers. Administrative and legal obstacles are the first ones encountered by children on their way to acquiring education. They vary from country to country and depend on the child's status in the asylum seeking process. In Serbia, inclusion of forced migrant children in education has been supported by official institutions, as well as numerous non-governmental and international organizations, which largely facilitated their access to schooling. The lack of human and financial resources is primarily reflected in the lack of teachers and educators adequately prepared for working with children from a different cultural and language region. Since migrant population is quite heterogeneous, there are no standardized textbooks in the languages of countries of origin or in English, while teachers and educators adapt teaching materials and contents on their own, applying demonstration, visual and dramatization methods. In addition, the school attendance of migrant children is adjusted to the pace of life in collective centres, whose location often requires logistic support of the actors working in the field so as to enable children to attend school. The reasons for additional psychological support to the children who have experienced forced migrations may be different, from the stress and trauma potentially experienced by the children in their country of origin, as well as while travelling and in the country of destination, to the lack of concentration and work habits due to the long journey or absence from school. The research findings show that migrant children do not express the need for additional psychological support, but that teachers are definitely aware of what children have experienced. Harmful effects of prejudice and stereotypes about migrant population may be reduced by taking an intercultural approach, cherishing mutual appreciation and respect from the earliest school stage. Of greatest relevance for successful acceptance of forced migrant children, as well as migrants in general, is timely notification and information of local population about the arrival of migrants and their inclusion in educational and other institutions. The language barrier stands out as the biggest obstacle to education of migrant children. When migrant children speak English, it may happen that teachers do not speak it, and when children speak only their native language, the interpreter's help is necessary. This obstacle is overcome by focusing on illustrative work methods, practical work and with the help of students who speak English. The communication with parents, who are the greatest support in children's education, is also made difficulty due to the language barrier. However, it is easier to overcome with the help of the interpreter and many other actors involved in fieldwork with migrant population. Although the system support is present, it still seems to be inadequate for high-quality inclusion of forced migrant children in the primary education system. Heterogeneity of this population makes it difficult to find an adequate solution to all language, ethnic and cultural groups, whereas the language barrier constitutes the greatest challenge to children, parents and teachers.

Endnotes

1https://rs.n1info.com/vesti/a317284-roditelji-u-sidu-protiv-dece-migranata-u-skolama/
2The data about the research participants were published with their consent.

References

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Đorđević, I., Šantić, D., & Živković, L. (2018). Migrant children in schools in Serbia: Barrier or challenge for a new beginning. Demografija, 15(15), 73-92. [Crossref]
Dronkers, J., & de Heus, M. (2012). The Educational Performances of Children of Immigrants in Sixteen OECD Countries. Center for Research and Analysis of Migration Discussion Paper Series, 10/12. Retrieved from https://ideas.repec.org/p/crm/wpaper/1210.html.
Ennab, F. (2017). Being Involved in Uninvolved Context: Refugee Parent Involvement in Children's Education. Manitoba: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved from https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/Manitoba%20Office/2017/04/Refugee_parent_involvement.pdf.
Ereş, F. (2016). Problems of the Immigrant Students Teachers: Are They Ready to Teach? International Education Studies, 9(7), 64-71. [Crossref]
European Commission. (2019). Integrating Students from Migrant Backgrounds into School in Europe: National Policies and Measures: Eurydice Report.
Gokce, T.A., & Kılıç, A.V. (2018). The Problems of Syrian Students in the Basic Education in Turkey. In: International Conference on Social Sciences, March, Frankfurt.
Gömleksiz, N.M., & Aslan, S. (2018). Refugee Students Views about the Problems They Face at School in Turkey. Education Reform Journal, 3(1), 45-58. [Crossref]
Ingleby, D., & Merry, M. (2013). Educational Challenges by Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Children and Other Newcomers: The Dutch Response. In: Migrants and Refugees: Equitable Education for Displaced Populations. (pp. 29-50).
IOM. (2011). Glossary of Migration. Retrieved from https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/iml_34_glossary.pdf.
IOM. (2011). Unaccompanied Children on the Move. Retrieved from https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/children_on_the_move_15may.pdf.
Jovanović, T. (2019). Formal Education of Asylum Seeker Children in Belgrade, Serbia: Expanded Meaning of Social Inclusion. Social Science. [Crossref]
Katipoğlu, B., Şimşek, P., & Gündüz, A. (2018). Immigration and Children. Disaster and Emergency Medicine Journal, 3(1), 26-30. [Crossref]
Koehler, C., & Schneider, J. (2019). Young Refugees in Education: The Particular Challenges of School Systems in Europe. Comparative Migration Studies, 7(28). Retrieved from https://comparativemigrationstudies.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40878-019-0129-3. [Crossref]
Maufakkir, O. (2013). Culture Shock; What Culture Shock? Conceptualizing Culture Unrest in Intercultural Tourism and Accessing Its Effect on Tourists' Perceptions and Travel Propensity. Tourist studies, 13(3), 322-340. [Crossref]
Milinkov, S., Janjić, S., & Jakovljević, N. (2021). Reporting About Migrants, Between Manipulation and Ethics. Novi Sad: Nezavisno društvo novinara Vojvodine. Retrieved from http://www.ndnv.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Izve%C5%A1tavanje-o-migrantima-Izme%C4%91u-manipulacije-i-etike.pdf.
Nishanti, R. (2020). Understanding of the Importance of Mother Tongue Learning. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development, 5(1), 77-80. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345436020_Understanding_of_the_Importance_of_Mother_Tongue_Learning.
Papapostolou, A., Manoli, P., & Mouti, A. (2020). Challenges and Needs in the Context of Formal Language Education to Refugee Children and Adolescents in Greece. Journal of Teacher Education and Educators, 9(1), 7-22. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1254675.pdf.
Save the Children. (2018). Hear It from the Teachers: Getting Refugee Children Back to School. Retrieved from https://www.savethechildren.org/content/dam/usa/reports/ed-cp/hear-it-from-the-teachers-refugee-education-report.pdf.
UNHCR. (2019). Teaching About Refugees: Guidance on Working with Refugee Children Struggling with Stress and Trauma. Retrieved from https://www.unhcr.org/uk/59d346de4.pdf.
UNICEF. (2018). How a comprehensive capacity-building program to ensure enrolment of refugee and migrant children in schools led the Serbian education system to embrace inclusion and multiculturalism.
UNICEF. (2016). Uprooted: The Growing Crisis for Refugee and Migrant Children. Retrieved from https://data.unicef.org/resources/uprooted-growing-crisis-refugee-migrant-children/.
UNICEF. (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/serbia/media/3186/file/Konvencija%20o%20pravima%20deteta.pdf.
Whitaker, E. (2010). Language Acquisition of the Children of Immigrants and the Role of Non-Profit Organizations. Economics Theses, 57. Retrieved from https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/economics_theses/57.
Reference
Adler, P.S. (1975) The Transitional Experiences: An Alternative View of Culture Shock. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 15(4): 13-23
Celik, S. (2020) Educational Problems of Syrian Refugee Students. Amazonia Investiga, 9(36): 83-95
Dronkers, J., de Heus, M. (2012) The Educational Performances of Children of Immigrants in Sixteen OECD Countries. Center for Research and Analysis of Migration Discussion Paper Series, 10/12, Available at https://ideas.repec.org/p/crm/wpaper/1210.html
Đorđević, I., Šantić, D., Živković, L. (2018) Migrant children in schools in Serbia: Barrier or challenge for a new beginning. Demografija, vol. 15, br. 15, str. 73-92
Ennab, F. (2017) Being Involved in Uninvolved Context: Refugee Parent Involvement in Children's Education. Manitoba: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Available at https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/ Manitoba%20Office/2017/04/Refugee_parent_involvement.pdf
Ereş, F. (2016) Problems of the Immigrant Students Teachers: Are They Ready to Teach?. International Education Studies, 9(7): 64-71
European Commission (2019) Integrating Students from Migrant Backgrounds into School in Europe: National Policies and Measures. Eurydice Report
Gokce, T.A., Kılıç, A.V. (2018) The Problems of Syrian Students in the Basic Education in Turkey. u: International Conference on Social Sciences, Frankfurt, March
Gömleksiz, N.M., Aslan, S. (2018) Refugee Students Views about the Problems They Face at School in Turkey. Education Reform Journal, 3(1): 45-58
Ingleby, D., Merry, M. (2013) Educational Challenges by Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Children and Other Newcomers: The Dutch Response. u: Migrants and Refugees: Equitable Education for Displaced Populations, 29-50
IOM (2011) Glossary of Migration. Available at https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/iml_34_glossary.pdf
IOM (2011) Unaccompanied Children on the Move. Available at https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/children_on_the_move_15may.pdf
Jovanović, T. (2019) Formal Education of Asylum Seeker Children in Belgrade, Serbia: Expanded Meaning of Social Inclusion. Social Science, 8
Katipoğlu, B., Şimşek, P., Gündüz, A. (2018) Immigration and Children. Disaster and Emergency Medicine Journal, 3(1): 26-30
Koehler, C., Schneider, J. (2019) Young Refugees in Education: The Particular Challenges of School Systems in Europe. Comparative Migration Studies, 7(28), Available at https://comparativemigrationstudies.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40878-019-0129-3
Maufakkir, O. (2013) Culture Shock; What Culture Shock?: Conceptualizing Culture Unrest in Intercultural Tourism and Accessing Its Effect on Tourists' Perceptions and Travel Propensity. Tourist Studies, 13(3): 322-340
Milinkov, S., Janjić, S., Jakovljević, N. (2021) Reporting About Migrants, Between Manipulation and Ethics. Novi Sad: Nezavisno društvo novinara Vojvodine, Available at http://www.ndnv.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Izve%C5%A1tavanje-o-migrantima-Izme%C4%91u-manipulacije-i-etike.pdf
Nishanti, R. (2020) Understanding of the Importance of Mother Tongue Learning. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development, 5(1): 77-80, Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345436020_Understanding_ of_the_Importance_of_Mother_Tongue_Learning
Papapostolou, A., Manoli, P., Mouti, A. (2020) Challenges and Needs in the Context of Formal Language Education to Refugee Children and Adolescents in Greece. Journal of Teacher Education and Educators, 9(1): 7-22, Available at https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1254675.pdf
Save the Children (2018) Hear It from the Teachers: Getting Refugee Children Back to School. Available at https://www.savethechildren.org/content/dam/usa/reports/ ed-cp/hear-it-from-the-teachers-refugee-education-report.pdf
UNHCR (2019) Teaching About Refugees: Guidance on Working with Refugee Children Struggling with Stress and Trauma. Available at https://www.unhcr.org/uk/59d346de4.pdf
UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM (2019) Access to Education for Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe. Available at https://www.unhcr.org/neu/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2019/09/Access-to-education-europe-19.pdf
UNICEF (2018) How a Comprehensive Capacity-Building Program to Ensure Enrolment of Refugee and Migrant Children in Schools Led the Serbian Education System to Embrace Inclusion and Multiculturalism
UNICEF (2016) Uprooted: The Growing Crisis for Refugee and Migrant Children. Available at https://data.unicef.org/resources/uprooted-growing-crisis-refugee-migrant-children/
UNICEF (1989) Convention on the Rights of the Child. Available at https://www.unicef.org/serbia/media/3186/file/Konvencija%20o%20pravima%20deteta.pdf
Whitaker, E. (2010) Language Acquisition of the Children of Immigrants and the Role of Non-Profit Organizations. Economics Theses, 57, Available at https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/economics_theses/57
 

O članku

jezik rada: srpski, engleski
vrsta rada: izvorni naučni članak
DOI: 10.5937/socpreg56-35802
primljen: 10.01.2022.
revidiran: 14.02.2022.
revidiran: 22.03.2022.
prihvaćen: 24.03.2022.
objavljen u SCIndeksu: 29.04.2022.
metod recenzije: dvostruko anoniman
Creative Commons License 4.0

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