There have been three round tables within the SIRIUS Network with the aim of promoting Baltic collaboration on the education of children and youth with a migrant background by bringing together policy makers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Riga round table
The first Baltic Interministerial round table took place in Riga, on the 4th July 2014. The goal of the round table was to bring together policy makers form Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia to identify topics and formats for a systematic cooperation and strategic partnership to develop migrant education policy. Participants included representatives from various ministries in the three Baltic States, Lithuanian Education Development Center and Tartu Miina Härma Gymnasium. There was a lively debate about the current state, policy and challenges of migrant education. A preliminary overview of students with a migrant background, including newly arrived immigrants, returning nationals and minorities, in the Baltic states was provided. Further, participants discussed their expectations towards the Baltic collaboration, and planned concrete steps to be taken in the Baltic collaboration. Participants highlighted the productive and mutually beneficial exchange and expressed interest to follow up with a narrowed focus in fall 2014.
Vilnius round table
The second round table took place in Vilnius, 3-4 November 2014 and focused on the topic Inclusive education policy for children of returning nationals and nationals living abroad. The discussion focused on the approaches towards integration of returning nationals into education in the Baltic States and supporting the education of Baltic nationals living abroad. Representatives from the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Research introduced the strategy for integration and education of Lithuanian returning nationals and nationals living abroad. Representatives from Estonia and Latvia also reflected on their national strategies. The strengths and weaknesses of national strategies and the transferability of good practices to other Baltic States were discussed. Further, the implementation of the education policy of returning nationals was discussed.
Teachers and other professionals involved with children and youth need training which allows them on the one hand to support youth with diverse backgrounds and on the other hand to incorporate the possibilities that multicultural environment offers in the study process.
The experiences and knowledge of returning nationals is a resource that not sufficiently employed.
Additional data should be gathered, which enables tracking the educational path of returning nationals.
Gintė Damušis, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – ‘Diaspora policy in Lithuania: building bridges and new connections’
Dr. Lina Kaminskiené – ‘Lituanistic model of education and challenges of its implementation’
Tartu round table
The third round table took place in Tartu, 27-28 January 2015 and focused on the topic Educational counselling: Policy and Practice. Knowledge on educational counselling approach in general education and services with a specific focus on supporting newly arrived immigrant pupils and families. Representatives from the Estonian Ministry of Education and Science and Ministry of the Interior introduced the Estonian approach to supporting students with a migrant background and different counselling options to representatives from Latvian and Lithuanian ministries. A representative from Foundation Innove introduced Pathfinder centers and the career and educational counselling services that are offered in the centers. Further, representatives from Estonian schools with large proportions of students with a migrant background shared their experiences. The strengths and challenges of national strategies and the successfulness of implementing measures related to students with a migrant background were discussed.
Counselling youth with a migrant background, education that corresponds to their needs and participation in youth work are complementary areas, which increase social inclusion.
Educational counselling and support for the educational opportunities of youth with a migrant background must be available in the whole country, so that young people receive the support and counselling that corresponds to their needs.
Schools and professionals are involved with youth need improved training to be prepared to support youth with a diverse background.
Kersti Kivirüüt, the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research – ‘Basic education system, the national curriculum and educational policy a context for educational counselling system’
Margit Rammo, Foundation Innove – ‘The Estonian system of educational guidance: Regional guidance centers and the Rajaleidja brand’
Anne Kivimäe, the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research – ‘Supporting newly arrived immigrants through youth work’
Liana Roosmaa, the Estonian Ministry of the Interior – ‘Adaption programme for newly arrived immigrants’