The action was implemented in the framework of the city’s intercultural strategy. It is aimed at introducing a comprehensive intercultural approach in schools, favouring the integration of newly-arrived families and encouraging newcomers to learn more about the Basque culture and language. The programme aims to achieve the following three goals:
- To mainstream an intercultural approach in schools, by valorising the different cultures that form the school, by working with all the school actors, from directors to teachers, psychologists, students and other non-teaching staff (guards, cleaners, canteen workers, etc.) in order to consider interculturalism in schools, classrooms and other spaces, by raising awareness and implementing intercultural activities in the classroom (festivities, storytelling, countries and cultures, gastronomy, etc.).
- To support newly-arrived children’s parents by introducing them into school life, by keeping them informed and encouraging their participation in meetings and activities, including in the classroom with storytelling and other activities that value their own culture. In order to achieve this, a newly-arrived family is put into contact with a local family who helps and supports them in order to lose their fear and become familiar and confident with the school’s functioning and customs. The local family becomes the newly-arrived family’s “family companion” (known as “familia laguna” in the Basque language). These families spend time together, meeting other people at school, as well as in the neighbourhood. This is a very efficient way of favouring the integration of new arrivals in school but also in the surroundings and town and raising awareness of their entitlement to school and public services.
- To encourage newly-arrived families to learn the Basque language or at least to become familiar with some expressions. In order to foster their participation, the municipality offers a wide range of free or low-cost Basque courses. In addition, these newcomers are supported by local families to participate in local festivities related to culture (e.g. Midsummer bonfires, farmers’ day, etc.)
This programme began two years ago in one school. Four more schools joined last year and, in September 2017, the school in Amara Berri joined the programme.
The service was initially provided by a Mothers’ and Fathers’ Association, which became an enterprise in 2016. Some of these mothers are professionals and have been through their own migration process.
The schools are contacted according to their rate of migrant students. The programme may not be applied in a school with a rate of newcomers higher than the 50%, because local families are needed to run the programme.
The gender mainstreaming concept is incorporated into the formulation and implementation of all the activities.
The impact of the action will undergo an evaluation process by the city. During 2016-2017, 102 families participated in the programme with a very high evaluation score.
The action was implemented by the municipality and partly sponsored by the Basque Government.