Protective Environments as Basis for Integration
Throughout its six years of experience in educational response to adolescents and young people made vulnerable by displacement, violence, armed conflicts, natural disasters and, as a result, lack of opportunities, the RET Ecuador has come to the conclusion that educational institutions/campuses are key bodies for integration into communities that host refugee populations.
However, in the provinces around Ecuador’s northern border that receive a significant number of refugees, there are serious limitations in training and education to effectively promote the integration of the host population and the new arrivals within the education system.
In the context of its project “Strengthening protective environments” and as a response to this situation, the RET provides psychosocial training for teachers, psychologists, vocational counselors and supervisors of different campuses/schools. To guarantee its sustainability and, above all, institutionalism, the process is carried out in close coordination with the Provincial Ministry/Service of Education (Direcciones Provinciales del Ministerio de Educación), allowing that certificates of participation and of the trainings are officially recognised by the Ministry of Education and taken into account within the processes of promotion of teachers and education officials.
Convinced that protection requires the incorporation of a set of key actors in charge of ensuring the fulfillment of the rights of children, adolescents and young people, the RET engaged different institutions into its educational processes such as the Institute of Children and Family (INFA) of the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion, the Department of Refugees and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In doing so, the RET seeks to generate partnerships and agreements in order to ensure that educational communities are considered strategic actors in the field of care for minors.
One of the numerous strategies of the RET to promote “protection through education” are the workshops conducted in the province of Sucumbios – which included interventions through the family system approach, conflict resolution between adolescents as well as between adolescents and adults, and the review of existing regulations and protocols for the protection of the rights of children, adolescents and youth. These trainings considerably helped raise awareness of protection issues among the educational officials as witnessed through the results of the post-training tests. At the time being, efforts are made to replicate the process in the province of Esmeraldas.