INCLUSIVE EDUCATION AND INTERCULTURAL ACTIVITIES FOR A VIBRANT AND WELCOMING SARDINIA, BY STUDIO E PROGETTO 2 AND THE MUNICIPALITY OF SARDINIA
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The Italian island Sardinia has been witnessing a migrant influx for the last two decades. Over the period 2000 to 2020, the percentage of foreign population has grown from 0.7% to 3.2% and today constitutes 51,426 foreigners of a 1.5 million inhabitants. The largest foreign communities in Sardinia are Romanians and Senegalese. In terms of employment, they are primarily occupied in the service sector (90%), small amount also work in trading, farming and other sectors. Foreign communities actively contribute to the economy of Sardinia and make a 5% of the total regional budget. Marco Sachi from the Sardinian department of immigration points out that: “We are aware that these are low numbers compared to other areas of Italy and Europe, but yet, they are increasing, and this means migration is an important part of our society, in economic terms, but also in other areas such as the education system.”
Education plays a key role in the process of integration and it becomes particularly crucial for those who wish to obtain Italian citizenship. Sardinia is one the Italian counties that has the highest number of citizenships obtained by foreigners.
Sardinian local administration is actively involved in educational activities, both in the field of formal and extra-curricular education, with the aim to help migrants to effectively integrate into Sardinian society. The Regional Office of Education not only manages general coordination, administration, technical support and funding of the local schools, but it collects data and analysis that help to draft new regulations and legislation that aim to improve migrant integration on the island.
Universities of Cagliari and Sassari have been working towards migrant inclusion since 2015. They have offered post-graduate and masters level education to residents of the refugee centres who have been successfully enrolled to university studies thanks to the European Passport for Refugees Scheme.
The University of Sassari launched several initiatives involving the concept of “moving”, such as “Moving lands and cultures”, “Moving Fertilia”, “Moving Palmadula”. Silvia Serre delegate of the Rectors’ Office of the University of Sassari explains: “Movement is really the magical word in this context as it brings us together in the process of inclusiveness. It doesn’t only concern mobility in physical sense, but really represents change in the way of people’s thinking.”
The University of Cagliari has been working on the project “UniCa” focused on the recognition of migrant students’ professional qualification that has been acquired prior to their arrival to Italy. The project, UNICORE, offers support and assistance to migrant students while also helping to pay for their accommodation.
In Sardinia, there are also initiatives targeted to younger migrant groups. For example, the project “On the same page” implemented by an art school in the town of Oristano, used colourful wooden blocks to create a street installation. The installation, that will be permanently present in the town centre, was aimed to symbolise integration, diversity and participation, and will serve as a meeting point for everyone living or passing by the town. The students who took part in this project were 14-18 years old.
A board game “Tutti i ballo” (Let’s All Dance) was invented by the EPIC partner Coopertativa Sociale Studio Progetto 2 for elementary and primary school children. The game, which got its inspiration from the local Sardinian dance festival, is focused on welcoming and relationship building, through the act of dance. Dancing offers a variety of ways to express feelings and emotions and by this generates further acceptance and inclusion.
Sardinia is rich in various initiatives and organisations offering educational and extra- curricular activities for migrant children and adults. Each organisation is trying to find their own niche to make sure different target groups and aspects of support are covered. An example is CIPA, a local instruction centre in the town of Cagliari, which is focused on one of the most vulnerable groups, migrant women living in rural areas. The Centre provides baby-sitting services and reimburses travel cost, so that the mothers can travel and participate in the training courses CIPA offers.
The intercultural association Nur is working a lot with newly arrived immigrants, but also with those of the second-generation migrants, helping them to build their life in Sardinian society, and ultimately (if desired) obtain Italian citizenship. Amal Al Ghifari, a young Moroccan woman, who arrived to Sardinia as a child without speaking a word of Italian language, today studies at the university and also operates as an intercultural mediator. She shared her story with us: “Through my journey I have lived both situations. As I wasn’t born an Italian citizen, I had to renew my visa every few years, until I eventually got my citizenship. On that day, I really felt reborn. It was as if I had been given a second chance or a sort of recognition of what I had done and become professionally over the years. Somewhere in the course of my integration process I started to feel that I was really part of Sardinian society. And I really want to stress that I feel Sardinian because for me Sardinia is special, it is my home.”
All these pratices are some of the examples from where EPIC partners are taking inspiration to carry out their won pilot projects in other territories. Most precisely, the partners from Sardinia were “matched” with the partner of the Metropolitan Area of Gdanks to benefit from this knowledge exchange.