A MENTORING PROGRAM FOR THE INTEGRATION OF NEWLY ARRIVED MIGRANTS INTO THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT OF THE HOST COUNTRY
1 Center for the Advancement of Research & Development in Educational and Technology (CYPRUS)
2 Center for the Advancement of Research & Development in Educational and Technology / University of Nicosia, School of Education (CYPRUS)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:The migration of thousands of people is now a reality for many countries worldwide. Some reasons include work, family, study, climate change, and the war. Nonetheless, migration has created a global challenge to the hosting countries, on different levels, including the discrepancy between the diverse cultures of the migrant and local people. The impact of this issue is reflected in schools’ environments where the newly arrived migrant students may face different challenges since there is no specific guideline on the cultural norms of the hosting country. Considering the need to bridge the gap between the two cultures, this study paved the way in allowing cultural integration of the newly arrived migrant students and understanding the migrant’s culture of the students who were already integrated into the hosting country’s culture through a mentoring programme.
To tackle the issue, four different European countries (i.e., Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Austria) implemented a mentoring programme designed specifically for newly arrived migrant students. Each country adjusted the methodology to the cultural norms of their country. Each country selected four different secondary education schools from different regions. Each school involved two teachers, four mentor students (i.e., students who were integrated into the cultural system of the hosting country) and four mentee students in each school (i.e., students who arrived in the hosting country within the last three months). All students were grouped in pairs with a mentor-mentee and they had to meet at least twice a month, for 40 minutes, where the mentor would ask the mentee any questions related to the subjects of the school and any other questions related to culture.
The mentoring programme was based on a culture-based educational methodology which encouraged the students to interact at three different levels; with the self (e.g., self-reflection), the others (e.g., brainstorming), and the environment (e.g., using gamified platforms for learning). Teachers gave feedback and examples, adjusted to the age of the students and to the language level, to be integrated into the current educational system in Cyprus. All teachers and mentors underwent a workshop, where they were instructed on how to approach their mentees. The researchers gave the prior-assessment tool to the mentees to assess their level in language and mathematics, adjusted based on the teachers’ feedback.
To measure the impact of the mentoring and prior-assessment tool, the researchers interviewed the teachers and students involved in the programme. The questions focused on the effectiveness of the mentoring programme, the usefulness of the prior-assessment tools. Overall, teachers and students believe that the mentoring programme has been helpful and it was more effective when the mentors had also been migrants themselves. Teachers reported that the prior-assessment tool was helpful since it was not only assessing knowledge, but skills as well. Results from the qualitative analysis of teachers' and students’ interviews demonstrate the significance of the implementation of a tailored mentoring program specifically in schools where the percentage of newly arrived migrants is high. As teachers and students claimed, the relationship and interaction between mentor-mentee enables the integration of those students into the school environment and creates a friendly and meaningful collaborative context in the classroom.
Keywords: Inclusive education, multiculturalism, mentoring programme, migration, integration, classroom.