Integration of migrants through training: interview with Costanza Raguso, Project officer of Programma Integra

Costanza Raguso, Project officer of Programma Integra

The fourth interview in the Migration section is dedicated to the Programma Integra, an integrated social cooperative society, established in 2005, which aims to promote the social integration processes of migrants and refugees through the promotion of innovative training courses.

To find out more about the topic, we interviewed Costanza Raguso, Project Officer at Programma Integra.

1) In your experience, what are the most effective teaching methods to promote the integration of migrants and refugees?

Since 2005, Programma Integra has been involved in activating and supporting the processes of social integration of migrants and refugees, in order to promote the initiation of sustainable and lasting paths of autonomy and contribute to the well-being and development of the community. Obviously, the first step towards integration is to learn the language of the host country. In recent years, in fact, in order to improve our training offer for asylum seekers and holders of international protection, we have begun to develop training programs with an innovative imprint, in order to stimulate and speed up language learning, through alternative methods and tools of teaching.

For example, the course entitled “Italiano ad arte” included ‘dynamic’ teaching with classroom lessons, intercultural mediation interventions, study visits and painting and poetic reading workshops. During the course a ‘situational communicative’ methodology was used. The same methodology was also used in the course “Bla, bla, bla. L’italiano per immagini” which, in addition to the traditional didactics, included a workshop on comics, the participation in reading meetings by professional actors, coming to have several opportunities to meet and a direct exchange with high school students in the capital. Finally, with the course “Io mi racconto“, we tried to integrate the language skills and knowledge with further communication skills expressed through the creation of a video that could tell the stories of young migrants and refugees and their experience in Italy, a way to tell us all we are there and explain who we are. We are constantly working on the development of training programs that can meet the needs of those who arrive in our country and, unfortunately, is in fragile conditions. Surely the help of intercultural mediation strengthens the work of the teachers involved. We also try to prepare our beneficiaries in the best possible way, through Italian language courses preparatory to the attendance of specific professional training courses, so as to be able to overcome a series of misunderstandings that could occur, especially with teachers who are not accustomed to a given audience.  In addition to training for migrants, in recent years Programma Integra has also developed a catalogue of training and courses for social professionals, in order to enhance the knowledge and skills needed by those who want to work in support of refugees and their paths of socio-economic integration.  Among the main themes that we address there are for example: practical tools for legal assistance to applicants for and holders of international protection; methodologies and tools for guidance to the work of refugees; integrated reception and housing insertion; design of social inclusion interventions for refugees; budgeting and reporting of projects for reception and integration of refugees. Not only is it necessary to better integrate foreign citizens arriving in our country, but it is of fundamental importance to provide professionals with increasingly effective tools to facilitate the processes of inclusion of migrants.

2) What have been the successful projects managed by the Integra Programme that have facilitated access to the world of work for migrants and refugees?

One of the main axes on which the work of the whole team of the Integra Programme develops is the social and labour integration of unaccompanied foreign minors, asylum seekers and refugees. In recent years, we have managed numerous projects relating to the macro-environmental employment including:

  • INSIDE – INSerimento Integrazione NordSud inclusionE: financed by Italia lavoro, within the Migration Policies Fund – Year 2013. 14 job placement paths activated, become at the end of the path 9 employment contracts in companies active in the Roman territory.
  • LIFT – Lavoro Immigrazione Formazione Traineeships: financed by Italia Lavoro S.p.A. with funds from the Rotation Fund for Professional Training and access to the European Social Fund, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies. 17 young people from Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Tunisia, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Syria and Bangladesh, have undertaken, thanks to this project, their preparatory experience to work in major companies such as McDonald’s (4 room operators), Chef Express (5 room operators), Hotel Capo D’Africa, Grand Hotel De La Minerve, Hotel Universo, Hilton Hotels, Hotel President (6 room and breakfast operators) and 2 were hired as warehouse workers at Migest srl and Shopping Paradise.
  • Training, guidance and support service for the creation of businesses in the agricultural and agri-food sector, for third-country nationals: co-financed by the European Commission and the Ministry of the Interior under the European Fund for the Integration of third-country nationals, AP 2013, Action 2 ‘Orientation to work and support for employability’. The project aimed at promoting mobility and professional growth paths for employed third-country nationals through training and information actions aimed at supporting forms of autonomous entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector;
  • Re-Startup – national network for the creation of cooperative enterprises of holders of vulnerable international protection: financed by the Ministry of the Interior and the European Commission under the European Refugee Fund. An initiative that has led to the creation of 11 cooperatives managed by holders of international protection, two of which were born in Rome (multi-ethnic gastronomy and multiservices). Here you can find more information. These projects have allowed us to consolidate partnerships with solid companies in the area, such as Ikea, Chef Express and EBTL – Ente Bilaterale del Turismo del Lazio. For more details on ongoing projects and completed projects, please consult this link: Programma Integra – Social Inclusion Area

3) Currently priorities are changing with the Safety Decree. Will it limit migrants’ access to education?

The Council of Ministers approved the Security Decree on 14 September. The text concerns “prevention of and fight against terrorism and mafia crime, amendments to the code of anti-mafia laws and prevention measures”, as well as provisions on “issue of temporary residence permits for humanitarian reasons as well as for international protection, immigration and citizenship”.

The decree in its first article provides for the abolition of the granting of residence permits for humanitarian reasons provided for in the Testo Unico sull’Immigrazione (Law 286/98).

According to the law currently in force, this type of permit may be granted to foreign citizens who have serious reasons, in particular humanitarian reasons or resulting from constitutional or international obligations of the Italian State”. But according to the new decree, those fleeing from conflicts, natural disasters or other events of particular gravity and coming from countries outside the European Union have the right to a residence permit for humanitarian reasons.  What should be stressed is that we will see a downsizing of the system Sprar – System of protection for asylum seekers and holders of international protection, a sharp cut in resources allocated to this system will result in a net reduction in services for migrants, then services aimed at integration, which so far have been implemented on the basis of what is the model SPRAR, ie the widespread reception.  Therefore, there are no specific rules in the decree that limit the access of migrants to education. It will continue to be the task of social workers, involved in the first and second reception services, to guide their beneficiaries in the best possible way.

 Interview by Francesca Garreffa

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