Human Refuge: Working with São Paulo's teachers to better welcome refugees into their schools
The project in brief
Sesc São Paulo - Administração Regional do Estado de São Paulo, Brasil
Brazil, South America
June 2018 - November 2019
Complementary initiatives on education have been one of the focus (and challenges to be faced) by the UNHCR offices in Brazil. Education evokes commitment and engagement to be sustained in long term projects in order to produce effective results to refugees and asylum seekers living in the country. In São Paulo, UNHCR has been partnering with the institution Sesc São Paulo and the Municipal Secretary of Education to promote trainings for public teachers that aims to promote a closer contact with the realities of refugees.
As a result, refugee issues are incorporated in public policies and diverse educative material sare produced according to the reality of each school. In 2019 a complementary project was implemented which focused on professionals and volunteers that are teaching Portuguese to refugees, when a national conference was set up to share the good practices on related topics such as methodology, uses of technologies, pedagogic materials, and social cases as best practices.
In addition, UNHCR holds a partnership with the NGO IKMR which provides extra curriculum activities and pedagogical support for over 150 refugee children in São Paulo.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Regarding the project Human Refuges, the institution Sesc Sao Paulo, in partnership with UNHCR and the Municipal Secretary of Education, has been implementing the project since 2016. In the first couple of years, the project attended one specific site of the city which held the most refugee population, working on the sensibilization of teachers on the topics related to refugees and their integration in the schools.
In 2018 the project was amplified to attend three different areas of the city as a result of a mapping plan that identified the main needs of education formation on refugee issues. In the present year, the project has been implemented in six different areas, reaching more than 500 professors. With the objective to provide public teachers information on refugee’s situation, the challenges they face and ways to deal with refugees´ children in the schools, the project holds the participation of refugees in its pedagogical process and plays a key role on the integration of this specific target group.
It also influences the upper hierarchies of the schools (directors) and the municipal secretary professionals (who became aware of some difficulties refugee children face in the schools, such as discrimination).
- UNHCR Brazil
- The Municipal Secretary of Education
Challenges and how they were overcome
As challenges to be faced, the following topics are real issues:
- Financial support to compile all the existent materials that are individually produced
- To evaluate the projects implemented after the workshops in order to provide a closer advisory and share the achievements within the groups
- To expand the project outside São Paulo city, attending other municipalities there are dealing with the influx of Venezuelans
- To make possible the workshops to be transmitted online and to have a digital library that could be consulted for other interested professors
- To reach the secondary education as the existent project was built to face the main issues of the first year’s education
- To provoke the academia and researches to be aware of the project in order to produce articles and thesis on the existent content
How they were overcome
UNHCR has been addressing the challenges by its advocacy capacity to incorporate public institutions and articulate with different audiences (such as the media, academia, NGOs, policy makers and refugees themselves) in order to expand the project and consolidate a systematic approach to achieve practical and effective results.
Results of the Good Practice
As results of the project Human Refuges, the following topics can be described:
Diffusion and exchange of knowledge related to the development and expansion of democratic principles of peaceful coexistence and guarantee of rights:
- Consolidation of an effective practice on teacher´s formation on a topic of their interest
- Content updates that are frequently adapted to each school reality
- Sensitization of directors and agents of the municipal secretary of education
- Production of diverse lesson plans that are shared and applied in several public schools
- Outreach of the regional limit as one professor attends regularly more than three different schools
- Income for refugees as they are hired to be part of the entirely construction of the project
Danilo Santos de Miranda, Director, Sesc São Paulo (Administração Regional do Estado de São Paulo)