European Agency with MIUR at the Lampedusa project

Agency Logo 2014

What is the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education?
We are an independent organisation that acts as a platform for collaboration for the ministries of education in our member countries.
Our work focuses on improving all learners’ achievement at all levels of inclusive lifelong learning. This enhances learners’ life chances and opportunities for actively participating in society.
The Agency member countries’ shared ultimate vision for inclusive education systems is that all learners of any age are provided with meaningful, high-quality educational opportunities in their local community, alongside their friends and peers. Therefore this vision is the focal point of all Agency work.
Our main aim is to help member countries improve their educational policy and practice. We do this by combining the perspectives of policy, practice and research in order to provide member countries and stakeholders at the European level with evidence-based information and guidance on implementing inclusive education.
We have National networks in 29 European countries:
Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French speaking communities), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

How are you involved in Europa Lampedusa project?
In the preparatory phase,  we have been in contact with the Ministry of Education and in particular with Raffaele Ciambrone and Rosaria Maria Petrella, country representatives in the Agency, discussing the  planning of the event and proposing the invitation and involvement of a number of European representatives.

What are your mission and your goal concerning immigration?
As mentioned above, the ultimate vision of the Agency work is to ensure that all learners of any age are provided with meaningful, high-quality educational opportunities in their local community, alongside their friends and peers. This of course includes immigrant and refugees learners.  In its work with member countries the Agency provides guidance on the development of inclusive education systems that aim to:european-agency

  • Raise the achievements of all learners
  • Ensure that all stakeholders value diversity.
  • Ensure the availability of flexible continua of provision and resources.
  • Ensure personalised approaches to learning that engage all learners and support their active participation (learner-centred curriculum, assessment frameworks,  flexible training and CPD, etc).
  • Enable all stakeholders to develop their attitudes and beliefs, knowledge, understanding, skills and behaviours in line with the goals and principles of an inclusive education system.

How did you like the four days?
It has been an extraordinary experience for us to be part of the Europa Lampedusa project.

Do you think it has been useful for the students?
It think it has been a very useful experience  for all Italian and European students who participated in the Europa Lampedusa project. Before coming, they had to discuss the issue of immigration with their classmates and the teacher in the class. They had to search for information in order to be better informed about the situation in Lampedusa and the  project and also to produce the video.  In Lampedusa they had the opportunity to experience the challenges of immigrants and discuss with other European students about the problematic situation in Europe.

Will you be with us next years?
We hope so

What do you expect from the school work on immigration during the year?
We hope that the participant students will disseminate the experience they had in Lampedusa at school, regional and national level so that more people are informed and some positive action takes place in Europe


Report of an interview with Qasem,
a refugee who had to flee from his country of origin

“As we passed the border of Hungary, the border officials were trying to shoot us. At that point I really had fear of death.”

That is the sentence which stayed clear in my mind after my interview with Qasem, a 17-year-old boy from Iran who had to flee to Europe because of his religion and the situation in his country of origin.

At the beginning of the interview Qasem was still a little bit shy and insecure, but from the longer we talked the more open he got and really talked about everything he had to go through.

Qasem was born in Afghanistan, but he cannot remember that country very well because he and his parents, they had to flee to Iran when he was about one year old. But even when they arrived in Iran the situation did not get any better. The Iranian people did not accept Qasem and his family because in the Iranians´ view they had the wrong religion and only were some strangers from another country.

Qasem also told me that even the police officers punished him because of his religion.

At some point his family decided not to go on like that and to save all their money to be able to pay the people smugglers, who promised to bring Qasem to Europe, if he payed 4000 €.

When he paid the money, the y drove him to the Turkish border, where they told him to go on on his own. He told them that he was really scared, when he passed the border illegally.

After that he went on a really small and old boat from Turkey to Greece. That little boat was really crowded and it did not seem very safe. “I was so happy when I arrived in Greece, being alive”, he said at that point.

After that he walked another two days without having any accommodation for the night or having any food until he came to an asylum for refugees, while waiting for his documents to be checked.

According to him, the situation in the asylum must have been very bad.

He told about many conflicts caused by the lack of food or the different religions the escaped people had.

But the worst thing in his view was the insufficient space for sleeping. So he and some other people, who were accommodated there as well decided to build their own little “sleeping-box”, they prepared at the outside, where they had enough space to sleep.

After one week his documents were checked and he was able to move on.

Qasem and some other people he got to know in Greece went to Serbia via Macedonia by foot.

According  to Qasem it took about two weeks to go there. Two weeks sleeping on the ground, being at the mercy of the weather; two weeks without having any time to have a break; two weeks without having any roof over their heads.

About two weeks later they arrived at the border to Hungary.

When they passed it, the officers started to shoot at them and Qasem told me that they just started to run for their lives.

“As we passed the border of Hungary the border officials were trying to shoot us. At that point I really had fear of death. I was so happy when I realised I was still alive after passing the border.”, he said.

After that Qasem moved on to Austria, where he was able to take a bus to Germany, where he was forced to go to an accommodation in Hochheim, a little town near Frankfurt.

As I asked him how he feels, being in Germany, he said that he is actually very happy to be here and that he has finally made it, but also that he is still very alone here in Germany.

He is missing his parents, who are still living in Iran. He seemed very sad, as he told me that he knows that he will never see his parents again.

He also mentioned that it was very difficult for him to learn the German language and that he still has problems with it, but I think his German was nearly perfect. He even knew a few sayings, which really impressed me.

Nevertheless, he also said that there are a lot of things he really likes in Germany.

He was really happy about having some friends in Germany, who he is always playing football with or learning for school with.

He even told me that he has found a girlfriend in Germany, who is always there for him, if he needs someone to talk or if he has any problems.

For him the best of Germany is that most people accept him and are respectful towards him.

He really rejoices, finally being in a peaceful country, as Germany is.

In my opinion Qasem is a really nice and first of all a very strong guy.

It needs a lot of strength to leave your home, your family and all your friends and to begin a completely new life in a completely new country, without knowing anyone.

I was really impressed by his determination to work very hard to get a good work and a good education in Germany. First he wants to complete secondary modern school, then he wants to do his secondary school certificate and after that he has even the plan to do his technological baccalaureate certificate. In my opinion, that deserves a lot of respect.

After that interview I noticed that we are actually really lucky to live in a country like Germany, with good opportunities in life and that our problems are not really important compared to the problems of people who have to flee because of war or the bad situation in their countries of origin.

We really should do something to help people who are having real problems in life, like refugees have.

Not only the big things are helping, every little thing you do can help.

To be honest, we are living in quite rich countries, in that we are having very good chances to achieve something good in life.

Many people have not been born in such a country with such good opportunities, so I think it is our responsibility to give something back to those people and to help whenever we have the chance to help.

That also means that we really should accept people who flee from other countries and that we should give them a new home and do everything to make them feel welcome in Europe.



Finland: migration and refugees

How we started

  • – Group: The three students that were chosen to travel to Lampedusa and their history and social studies teacher.
  • – At first we read what is meant by the term refugee.
  • – We had a series of questions about refugees and migration to Europe and Finland. We started by finding answers to them.

The questions

Background information

  • – Why do people end up being refugees?
  • – How many refugees there are globally? (Estimation.)
  • – Where do they leave from and why do they have to leave?
  • – Why did the number of refugees coming to Europe rise dramatically during the year 2015?
  • – How do the refugees choose the places they flee to and why these areas?
  • – What kind of dangers they encounter during the journey?
  • – Which are the most frequently used routes by refugees in the world, to Europe and to Finland?
  • – From which countries are the refugees that come to Finland from?

Reactions in Europe and in Finland

  • – What were the reactions towards the refugees in Europe and in Finland during the autumn 2015?
  • – What kind of confrontations there were in Finland?
  • – What is the impression that Finnish people have on the refugees that came to Finland?
  • – Where to find reliable information about the refugees and their reasons to flee from their homes?
  • – Why there is so much unreliable information about the refugees? Who does it benefit?

International politics and relations

  • – How did the EU try to find solutions in the situation where more and more refugees tried to cross the borders?
  • – How did this situation affect to the relations between the members of EU?
  • – What was the content of the agreement between EU and Turkey? What are the threats on this agreement?
  • – How did the refugee issue become relevant in relations between Finland and Russia?

Idea of our work for Lampedusa Museum of Dialogue and Trust

We started planning a collage with things we carry with us during school days and what we would gather to the same backpack if we had to leave our homes.

Meeting with a refugee

There is a school in Lapinlahti which offers education for refugees and immigrants (Finnish language, mathematics etc.). We contacted this school, Portaanpään kristillinen opisto, and asked if we could meet one of their students. They were very kind to arrange us a meeting with a young man who has been in Finland since summer 2014.

We asked him about his background, reasons why he had left his home country and the journey he had taken to Finland. He also told us about his experiences in Finland.

We were surprised how well this young man spoke Finnish after being in Finland only for two years. He had traveled from Iraq to Finland through Turkey, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. We were surprised that this journey took him only 10 days.

We had imagined most of the refugees leave their home with maybe a backpack full of things they need. We asked him what he took with him when he left Iraq and he told us he only could take a mobile phone and some chocolate bars. That led us change the artwork we are making for Lampedusa.

Artwork for Museum of Dialogue and Trust

Our work is a collage of things that we will take with us to Lampedusa.

Heinrich Boll Schule – Germany

Activity paper  by German Lampedusa group

Interviews with young refugees at our school (see foto)

After having gone through and extensively discussing the given questions regarding the identification with a migrant, and dealing with the following investigation and the acceptance questions, our group decided that instead of just writing down answers to the given questions, we wanted to interview unaccompanied refugees who are presently at our school. Thus we hoped to gain greater insight into the problems and hopes, the thoughts and feelings of the people involved.


Getting ready for the interviews

With the help of teachers, we found several male adolescents at Heinrich-Boell-Schule  who are either in extra classes that currently concentrate on learning German or are in regular classes already.  We set up a paper which told our interview partners beforehand, what  the purpose of the interview should be and also the actual questions, so that they would be able to think of what they wanted to answer (and also what they did not want to say).

Doing the interviews

We created one-to-one situations in a friendly atmosphere in a quiet room at our school and the interviews, which were intended to take about 15 – 20 minutes, then lasted about 45 minutes because after an initial shyness,  the boys started talking more and more openly and gained trust in the students. The students, on the other hand, were very sensitive to the boys’ situation and showed a lot of respect and understanding.


After the interviews

All three students were amazed at what the boys had had to go through. Although in theory, they had been prepared to individual refugee stories, they were nevertheless quite moved if not shocked by the boys’ reports concerning their journey and their present situation (living without their parents, loneliness, difficulty in making new friends…). All of the students agreed that they had a new outlook at their own situation now and that they somehow wanted to do something to help their interview partners. In one case, phone numbers were immediately exchanged.

Prospects / outlook

The interviews seem to be a good base for starting a project like partnerships between German and refugee adolescents.

g4Activity paper  by German Lampedusa group

Former projects

Project week of school classes  (see fotos)

Last year, during a special week, 3 complete classes (about 70 students, aged 14 to 15 years)  did a project to get in touch with local refugees. We invited them to school and about 20 people aged between 17 and 60 accepted the invitation. We had prepared groups which did sports, another did artwork, others consisted of help with the German language, still others interviewed people and did  research on the countries they came from. After that week, a small group of 8 students decided to go on with the German language classes and continued them throughout the school year, so that every week, there was a meeting which generally between 3 and 10 refugees attended.  There were also cases of family friendships that developed and  that still go on outside school.

Bike project (see fotos)

g5We found that many of the refugees living close to our school were not very mobile.  In many cases, they did long distances on foot. There was a great demand for bicycles and so  we asked the parents of the students of our school to donate bikes that they did not need any more.   

We then cooperated with a nearby bike repair shop, which on some afternoons helped to repair the donated bikes, together with students and refugees.   Each refugee who had helped to repair his bike could, at the end of the day, take home a bike.  Afterwards, we had several meetings with some of the refugees, and even one invitation to dinner in the refugee home, which everybody enjoyed.




Greek students collecting media points of view

Acceptance for me is that every person has the ability and will to accept situations and people in their lives, without restrictions. My country welcomes on its territory almost every day a significant number of refugees. People, according to my opinion, are not so welcoming towards them. I believe that a big percentage of Greek people view in a racist fashion all these people, who have abandoned their country, their motherland, their home in order to offer a better future to their children. However, there are definitely people who are understanding  towards refugees’ pain. The best thing that Greece could offer for these people would be to welcome them but also for every Greek person to have in mind that maybe they could be in their position.

When I interviewed them they told us that their country was in a very bad condition. Most of the houses have been destroyed by bombs and that many people die in front of them them. So, they find themselves very lucky to have fled that horrific situation.

They got away from their houses and their families with the hope of finding a peaceful place  where they are not in danger . Also they told us that do not have any weapons so they can’t defend themselves and do not have any other better choice than leave.

All of them want to travel and find a job in Europe , they want to leave from Greece , but most of them cannot. Many of them have access to a hotspot , some beg on the streets meanwhile more and more come by boat from Turkey to Mytilini and other islands.

Celebrity photo collected by Greek students




Greek newspaper articles,Diashmos-h8opoios-apo-to-Homeland-voh8aei-prosfyges-sth-Lesvo-BINTEO.html

L'Europa inizia a Lampedusa

Class activities

Class activities on refugees

The term “refugee” shall apply to any person who, owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it. [Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, article 1A]

Here it is an example of class activity aimed at reflect on the issue of migration and refugees through 3 phases: Identify yourself, Investigate, Accept.

Identify yourself  with a migrant/refugee

  • What do you know about refugees? Who are they? what’s the situation in their homes? What kind of tragedies are escaping and what kind of troubles are facing of during their escape? What kind of shelter would they receive?
  • Through the following questions try to Identify yourself  with a migrant/refugee escaping from her/his home:
  • How would you organize your escape?
  • To which country? Why?
  • Which objects would you take with you?
  • How do you imagine your escape?

When possible, it could be useful to organize a meeting with a refugee in order to let your class  knowing directly their experience. Otherwise one can watch videos, photos, like those available on the UNHCR website: for example


  • Do you know any refugees?  Are there any refugees in your school/class?
  • Which is the situation in their home country?
  • Why had they to get away from their homes ?
  • What’s their present condition?


  • What is acceptance for you?
  • How is inclusion for refugees in your Country? What are its strong-points? What could be done better?

To the students:

Your opinion is important to us: Pls. answer to these last questions:

  • What is acceptance for you?
  • What can you/your community/your country do, to better include them?
  • How is inclusion for refugees in your Country? What are its strong-points? What could be done better?
  • After the work you did with your class, has your perception on refugees changed? How?