Migrant and Refugee Children in Polish Schools – (non) Discriminatory School Practices

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:40
Oral Presentation
Urszula MARKOWSKA-MANISTA, Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw, UNESCO Janusz Korczak Chair in Interdisciplinary Studies on Child Development and Well-being, Poland
Dominika ZAKRZEWSKA-OLEDZKA, The Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw, Poland
School is a place and space where the past meets the present and inclusion meets exclusion; where, on the one hand, cultural and social meanings are shared and negotiated and the platforms for dialogue are searched for. On the other hand, school generates resistance and a closed attitude towards that which is different, distinct, towards other values-varying from those that are dominant, towards other meanings and beliefs. This results from a fixed repertoire of content, subjects, issues, ceremonies and rituals that accompany them. Polish school is a place where migrant or refugee children are still relatively rare. School praxis still seems to be oriented towards the needs of a homogeneous environment, with an average, undistinguished child, and most importantly, one who does not stand out against the majority of school class. Field research (observation, interviews, visual ethnography) conducted in school environment allows to discern children’s diversity with a clear division into those who are better and worse. Available research indicates that migrant children, in particular refugee children experience multiple, complex discriminatory practices and their cultural context at school as a diverse place and space is ignored or treated in the category of folklore. The aim of the presentation is to outline the situation of migrant and refugee children in Polish schools and illustrate dominant (non) discriminatory school praxis. We will refer to research results from 2015-17 when interviews were conducted among 80 teachers from primary and lower secondary schools as well as parents of foreign children and employees of NGOs who realise interational projects in cooperation with schools. Results of research conducted with the use of visual ethnography-photographs of rituals, places and spaces which (do not) discriminate-will also be presented. The presentation is an attempt at a critical look at the place and space-Polish school-where migrant and refugee children function.