In Norway, migrant integration is taught in school


Bergen, Norway, 2015. Vebjørn asks his son: 

– Where is your classmate Muhammad from?

– He’s from Bergen!                                                              

The modern vision of the Norwegian public authorities on migrant integration policies and programmes is also reflected in children’s approach to this topic. And if Finland intends to reform its educational system by replacing mathematics and history with phenomenon-based knowledge, Norway has already implemented a significant innovation: introducing, in schools, topics provided by the national programmes regarding anti-radicalisation, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, whose final objective is the effective integration of migrants and prevention of discriminating behaviour towards them.

This is one of the most important pieces of information that the four specialists of ICAR Foundation learned during their second study visit in Norway, within the project ICAR – Resource and Service Centre for Migrants, financed from the EEA 2009-2014 grants, through the NGO Romania Fund. ICAR specialists made this visit to thoroughly understand the cooperation mechanisms of a resource centre and of the service providers with the authorities in charge of migration and to assess what could be adapted from the Norwegian model in Romania.

“The way in which a society integrates migrants can be measured by various sophisticated tools. Sometimes, this assessment comes from those who you least expect, with an undisputable credibility and accuracy: children. One of the colleagues I met in Bergen told us that, when he asked his son Bjorg, where his friend and classmate Muhammad was from, he received a prompt answer: «from Bergen». Both Bjorg, the blond boy with blue eyes, and Muhammad, his friend with black eyes and dark skin, are Norwegians. This episode says a lot about what happens in a country which puts in a serious effort to integrate migrants and about how mentalities change from one generation to another. It is obvious that the 10-year-old son exceeded his father, showing that migrant integration is possible”, stated Dr Camelia Doru, the project coordinator, upon returning from Norway.

In Norway, by exceptional organisation, the representatives of the Integration and Diversity Department within the Ministry for Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, with the support of several organisations acting in the field of migration, train school counsellors, teachers and even parents so that, in the end, this chain of information can have an impact on students as well and, in the long run, can contribute to a flexible mentality regarding foreigners.

“The maturity of a society is also reflected by the concrete measures implemented by the states to cultivate and strengthen its fundamental values. In Norway, gender equality, respect for children’s rights, social protection and equality are not just merely beautiful principles – they are national public policies. Migrants are supported in understanding and respecting these values, by various actions: from thematic information campaigns and counselling in schools to parenting classes within the refugee integration programme”, said Iuliana Florea, Project Coordinator with ICAR Foundation.

ICAR Foundation is implementing the project ICAR – Resource and Service Centre for Migrants, together with its partner, RVTS-Vest from Bergen, a regional resource centre for violence traumatic stress and suicide prevention (Resource Centre of Violence Traumatic Stress and Suicide Prevention Region West, within Helse Bergen HF, Haukeland University Hospital).



The four ICAR specialists participated in working meetings at the office of RVTS-Vest, the Immigration Directorate (within the Ministry of Justice), the Integration and Diversity Department and the Social Services Department of Bergen Municipality, met with Dr. Nora Sveaass, Professor of Psychology with Oslo University, member of the United Nations Committee against Torture, and visited the Health Centre for Undocumented Migrants in Oslo. Further to this visits, the four ICAR experts will try to find solutions to improve the migrant integration measures in Romania.

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Through the project “ICAR-Resource and Service Centre for Migrants”, ICAR Foundation intends to cover the unaddressed need, at public or private level, of adjusted social and basic services for migrants (asylum seekers, refugees, third-country nationals etc.), a continuously growing group of vulnerable persons. With the support and expertise of its partner, RVTS Vest, a regional migration and health resource centre in Norway, ICAR aims, on the one hand, at increasing the quality and accesibility of the services offered to vulnerable migrants (over 250 beneficiaries/24 months of project) and, on the other hand, at its strategic development as national migration and health resource centre. By joint advocacy and visibility actions, other results of the project – such as, inclusion of asylum, migration and health issues on the public agenda, creation of intra- and inter-sectoral partnerships, promotion of democratic values, of a tolerant and inclusive society, open to diversity and multiculturalism, will contribute to the strengthening of the relations between Romania and Norway on a very current topic: migration.

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