Education as a tool for change: IOM and the Ministry of Education work to prevent racial discrimination in Costa Rican classrooms

6 July, 2018

San José, Costa Rica. 65 civil servants from the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) received training in June on migration, the risks associated with irregular migration, and the importance of keeping educational institutions free of racial discrimination and xenophobia. Specifically, the trainings were carried out on June 13 in Liberia and June 27 in Alajuela.

With the goal of preventing discrimination in Costa Rican classrooms, the trainings provided tools to resolve problems related to racism in classes, improve the integration of migrant students, and learn to appreciate cultural diversity. The workshop's purpose was to strengthen the skills and knowledge of educators in the areas of human rights, migrant and indigenous populations, and populations of African descent.

This forms part of a project of the MEP and the Association of Graduates and Professors in Letters, Philosophy, Sciences, and Arts of Costa Rica (COLYPRO) with IOM, which will conclude with the development of a protocol for all MEP staff to use to create classrooms free of all types of discrimination.

"The participative methodology that the IOM promotes allows staff to familiarize themselves both with migration at the theoretical level, explaining for example the difference between unaccompanied and separated children, or between human trafficking and smuggling, and at the practical, functional level, through activities that not only increase awareness, but also generate positive changes in attitudes for the effective creation of classrooms free of discrimination,"  comments Francesca Tabellini, Assistant Specialist of Projects of the Mesoamerica Program.

For several years, IOM and the MEP have been coordinating efforts to promote inclusive, critical, and creative education which strengthens abilities in order to fight all forms of discrimination. The two institutions have focused on diversity and respecting rights with an attitude that is open to differences.

In addition, the IOM, in coordination with the Department of Student Life of the MEP, has been supporting various workshops to raise awareness and provide training to teachers across the country, on the topics of the fight against human trafficking, the exploitation of minors, discrimination, and xenophobia. Currently, the IOM is assisting the MEP with the development of an internal protocol regarding the crime of human trafficking and access to the educational system.  In the upcoming months a pilot project will also be launched in 12 schools, training teachers in 6 primary and 6 secondary schools across the country on the the topic of migration regularization.

The next workshops in 2018 will be held in Ciudad Quesada (July 18), Jacó (August 22), Santa Ana (September 26), and Upala (November 21). For more information, contact Francesca Tabellini, email: ftabellini@iom.int