I.3 - The current challenges

In order to provide relevant guidance to teachers, a situational analysis consisting of surveys and focus groups were carried out with teachers, principals and educational stakeholders in each of the participating countries, with special emphasis on multicultural schools and refugee / migrant / minority groups (RMM). Through this exercise, we sought to identify the challenges in this area, strategies currently used, and also to find out how familiar teachers already were with Drama in Education, Folktales and Digital Storytelling. 

We also explored teachers’ experience during the lockdown, including how e-learning was working with RMM children and their families.

I.3.1 Overall data on participation

The total number of people who have completed the questionnaires is 253. The total number of people who have participated in the focus groups is 37. The numbers broken down by country are as follows:

• Bulgaria: Questionnaires (16) – Focus Group (6)

• Greece: Questionnaires (69) – Focus Group (8)

• Hungary: Questionnaires (12) – Focus Group (4)

• Italy: Questionnaires (53) – Focus Group (6)

• Romania: Questionnaires (59) – Focus Group (9)

• Spain: Questionnaires (44) – Focus Group (4)

I.3.2 Findings from the situation analysis

Although the contexts of the six participating countries are different (minorities/Roma versus migrants/refugees), it was possible to draw some general conclusions applying to all.

Teachers perceived that RMM children as having special educational needs. Language for teachers was the greatest barrier to engaging with children and families, who teachers believed had very few resources and knowledge to help their children. Teachers identified the most important qualities for teaching these children as empathy, knowledge of other cultures and patience.

The importance of language and the skills that a teacher needs to work with RMM children are reflected in these testimonies from participating teachers:

“One of the main needs is language. Most RMM families do not have the local language as their mother tongue, so communication is often difficult. When RMM students start school, they start from a very different situation with respect to other students: RMM have very poor cultural background and poor knowledge of the local language. Throughout the entire educational process, the majority of students have little family support and few educational experiences outside of school.”

“He/She [the teacher] must be a very close and empathetic person, at both the family and child levels. He/She must also be very familiar with the cultural reality of the families. He/She must be able to attend to diverse needs within the classroom and be flexible at the organizational level.”

Communication therefore is the area drama, tales and digital storytelling in education should be particularly focussed on developing.

Of the three methods proposed by the DIVERSE project, the best known by teachers was the use of stories and tales in class. But they also know drama in education, and many of them have claimed to use digital storytelling.

Teachers felt sufficiently prepared but recognized that they lack knowledge about multiculturalism. They cited lack of time, having to follow a rigid curriculum, and materials and resources designed without considering diverse contexts and cultures as particular challenges. More time, freedom of action, training possibilities and teamwork were priorities in improving provision. Teachers had participated in some form of training, but believed there should be more opportunities and they should be more practical (what to do in the classroom), recommending also that topics of inclusive education and multiculturalism should be studied in the faculties of education (pre-service teachers).

Finally, teachers believed social workers and cultural mediators were important for communication and cooperation with RMM families, but just a few schools had such positions , and in cases this was thanks to other agencies providing this resource.