The recent wave of large-scale immigrant influxes into many European Member States has increased the challenges posed by the inclusion of immigrants in the host countries (European Commission, 2016). According to data by UNICEF (2016), 5.4 million child migrants, approximately one in six of the world’s migrants below the age of 18, lives in Europe.
Narratives from the past fifty years suggest Europe has become a “continent of integration” (Scholten et al. 2015: 1), but recent socio-political upheavals at the national level suggest that significant challenges and conflicts are surrounding the inclusion of immigrants. Children with a refugee or immigrant background are particularly susceptible to such conflicts because their less powerful status opens them up to significant inequalities, discrimination and integrational barriers.
Research on national policies and measures focusing on the inclusion of students with a migrant background shows that the range of policies implemented in EU member states varies considerably (EU 2016; Eurydice 2019). Research shows that children with an immigrant background continue to face barriers and inequalities in education, as well as other important aspects of their life beyond school (EU 2016; OECD/EU 2015), and this represents a crucial hurdle in the inclusion process of their families and ethnic/linguistic groups at large as well as an obstacle for their future opportunities.
In this context, education systems are facing multiple challenges due to increasing cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity and socio-economic inequalities. NEW ABC will make its contribution through education because it is a key element in successful inclusion in all spheres and dimensions of migrants’ lives.