Cristina Simona Bangau
The School of Public Life [A Közélet Iskolájá]
Open Learning Initiative, University of Vienna
Open Learning Initiative, University of East London
We are in a consortium, working on a larger refugee education project implemented in all 3 universities
People fleeing conflict or desperate situations seek refuge in Europe, only to find that they are marginalized from public life and democratic participation. The aim of our project is to ensure the meaningful inclusion and participation of refugees in European society through education. With the support of professionally trained advocates and academics, refugee students will cultivate, and put into practice, advocacy knowledge, skills and experience by developing their own campaign.
Budapest, Hungary and to be transferred to Vienna, Austria, Thessaloniki, Greece and London, England
Increasingly restrictive migration policies and hostile anti-migrant discourses are threatening the future of Europe’s democracy. The ‘otherisation’ of people with refugee status in Europe means that not only are they isolated from decision-making processes, but that racism and discrimination are part of everyday life. Our project strengthens the capacity of refugees to challenge fear and prejudice, and to promote diversity in ways that meaningfully contribute to their adopted societies. In an environment where anti-Europeanism is taking hold, our project is an alternative built upon the founding values of Europe, with the aim of working towards a common European future and a reinvigorated democracy.
First of all, refugees across Hungary will have an online platform to be better informed of their rights through the efforts of the 15 refugee students completing the 10-month Education as Advocacy program. They will successfully implement an advocacy campaign, conducted both as an online platform as well within a Hungarian high school, which raises awareness of their rights and challenges prejudice against them. Secondly, they will develop an online handbook to connect with Europe-wide refugee and migrant groups working on similar issues, with the aim of creating an advocacy network. Overall, it is envisioned that refugee students will be better connected to local and European-wide advocacy groups, resulting in the participation of a number of refugees in projects with local networks.
The project is innovative in its multilevel approach to advocacy and education, consisting of two central components. During the first half of the 10-month program, refugee students will be taught principles of advocacy, practical advocacy skills, and digital literacy as well as a series of seminars with civil society representatives and local organisations. The second-half will be dedicated to putting theory into praxis. Students will design and implement their own advocacy campaign, using digital media to create an online presence, parallel to delivering and leading workshops in a Hungarian high school. The project will continuously communicate learning to partner organisations, by producing an open access best practices in advocacy toolkit and a final knowledge sharing event.
Since 2015, the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) has successfully launched two university programs focused on helping refugees and asylum seekers access university and highly-skilled jobs. We see access to education and rights as integral to fostering political and social change. Specifically, our project is rooted in our commitment to shifting the future trajectories of people who have been marginalized in Europe, by empowering and equipping refugee students with the support and skills necessary to challenge exclusion and anti-refugee discourse. In order to create a truly vibrant and unified European society, it is necessary to interrogate, expand and transform the meaning of citizenship and belonging, to include the voices of those who reside at the margins.
The idea gives voice and agency to refugees. As such they are the primary target group, beneficiaries, stakeholders and audience of the program; firstly in Hungary and then across Europe. Other stakeholders are refugee advocacy groups, civil society organisations, universities and Hungarian high schools. Other participants in the project are scholars, refugee activists, professionally trained advocates, Hungarian high school students and IT experts. The broader audience are Hungarian high school students, the wider CEU student community, and Hungarian and European society at large. In doing so, our project reaches across different cultural contexts, national boundaries and seemingly disparate actors in order to facilitate synergies and dialogue for change in the European public sphere.
At the core of our project is an innovative advocacy program that centers the question of active refugee participation and representation in host societies. We understand advocacy to be the capacity to campaign on an issue (or a problem) with the aim of effecting positive change. Our project will assist people with refugee status make an impact on society through advocacy and leadership training, by fostering social dialogue and enhancing civic engagement in mutually beneficial ways. Our aim is for refugees in Europe to take an active part in the European public sphere. This is an important and fundamental step towards tackling racism and xenophobia and promoting diversity and inclusion in Europe because it puts the voices of those subject to racist attack at the forefront.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe
General Office expenses 2,000 EUR; Travel costs 14,150 EUR; Accommodation and subsistence 7,680 EUR; Fees and honoraries 12,000 EUR; Public relations 2,000 EUR; Unforeseen and others 1,886 EUR; Personnel 31,500 EUR.
Suggestions of relevant grassroots organizations across Europe who could join us in forming a refugee advocacy network. Experiences and critical feedback from members and allies of refugee and other marginalized groups (eg. homeless, LGBTQI, Roma) who have conducted advocacy projects and campaigns.