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Perspectives of Multicultural Integration in Vila Viçosa’s School Cluster
Agostinho Arranca
Primary, Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary cluster
Integration of immigrants students
At a stage when Portugal received many citizens of other nationalities, mostly from Eastern European countries, the Cluster Schools of Vila Viçosa faced a challenge of integration and the challenge to ensure the educational success of these students.
Due to its industrial and social supports, the Municipality of Vila Viçosa constituted an exception to the regional outlook, attracting people to their territory and promoted some immigrant family reconstitutions.
Until not long ago, this institution had students from 13 different nationalities and gypsy students.
It is in this multicultural context, that school organization began to outline an integrated response at various levels and involving several types of support.
This educational response has been the subject of debate in educational conferences and publications, which can be viewed at

The various school interventions allow to highlight the following aspects:
• The role of the governing body
 In the management of school time ;
 In the management of the teaching and non-teaching component of teachers;
 In service delivery, attributing to teachers with a more appropriate profile , classes with students of other nationalities or ethnicities ;
 In the distribution and management of new signups or registrations for the newer students benefit from peer tutoring strategies ( students with higher proficiency in Portuguese helping those who held less ) ;
 In reinforcement documental fund for libraries and classrooms ( maps , dictionaries of languages in use ... ) ;
 In support in resolving situations of bureaucratic legalization and equivalence of qualifications trying to bridge with Embassies and Consular Services that did not hold in the 90s , the experience and the ability to respond with the desired speed to his compatriots , requiring extensive travel and expenses;
 In developing contacts with other national and foreign schools , charities , support immigrant.
On this last point it is possible to verify that the various projects performed like Socrates-Comenius1, will progressively help involving more countries east of the European continent (POL, LIT) to try to get the best teachers to get the perception of social and cultural characteristics of their students, encouraging a genuine European dimension in education.
The realization of cultural and recreational activities, formed a way of integrating children and their families in school and social life of the county enabling, students, contact more often with local culture and parents, creating networks of contacts with other parents, thereby facilitating integration into the community and its "conquest" on the task of helping in this school transition phase that their children lived.
Such activities are parties in schools, visits to museums and historic sites, the organization of plays, among others.
In addition, of course, the curriculum enrichment activities that allow contact and learning the Portuguese language in informal context, as well as the sharing of cultural patterns of various types of pupils.
The establishment of a genuine network of partnerships with local and regional institutions, in articulation with Local Social Welfare Council of the Municipality of Vila Viçosa (CLASVV) allowed:
• The fight against school dropout in collaboration with the "GNR" (Police Force) / Safe School Program, Social Security and "Caritas Paroquial" emitting or responding in time to warnings of children in risk of neglect or lack of attendance to school;
• The removal of basic needs of families in food, clothing, or looking for work;
• The support of multi-disciplinary teams through projects developed in partnership with the Institute for Social Development (IDS) and local partners (Office of Social Support for Parents and Students at Risk - GASPAR);
• The development of relevant educational projects, as the case of the Project "Arco Iris", in collaboration with the University of Évora who aimed at creating a virtual community, with all students, of Alentejo, they had other nationalities and who attend to establishments teaching.

Comments on this Teachers Experience

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Date: 2014.06.02

Posted by Martine PRIGNON (Belgium)

Message: In all the partner countries, many schools face the challenge of multicultural integration.
This experience highlights the necessity to organise an integrated response at different levels and involving several types of support. It is thus in accordance with the partners’ guidelines dedicated to the “integration of immigrant students”:
Developing cultural activities could help integrate not only students but also parents in the school life and in the culture of the country; the support provided by schools to help students and parents to command the national language, working in network with institutions and associations to support immigrant families, fostering innovative pedagogical approaches such as peer training, participation in educational projects involving other nationalities… are a few key elements of the strategies proposed by the partner countries.

20 December 2014

Final Partners’ meeting

The fourth partners’ meeting took place in Florence (IT) on 15 December 2014. The meeting had the objective to check the activities carried out since the third meeting of the project and share and assess the in progress results. A special focus has been dedicated to the presentation of the strategies to solve the case scenarios.