The EIS has a commitment to high standards of education, rooted in rights, equality and inclusivity. The EIS’s overarching position is the principle that young people have the right to learn, and teachers and lecturers have the right to work, in an educational environment that is free from discrimination, where the rights of all are equally upheld.

The EIS welcomes immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to Scotland. At a time where some communities may see an increase in negative rhetoric regarding immigration, related to the Illegal Migration Bill 2023, it is important that we all play our part in enhancing understanding of immigration and in supporting a rights-based approach.

The current context of immigration to the UK

Misinformation about immigration will encourage a rise in racist attacks, and put additional barriers in the way of people abroad who are on the move, many fleeing for their lives.

“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Article 14 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

People have always emigrated from and immigrated to Scotland, though debates about levels and forms of immigration have intensified in recent years, with harmful myths being spread in the media and some groups organising specifically against the rights of people seeking asylum.

Misinformation about immigration will encourage a rise in racist attacks, and put additional barriers in the way of people abroad who are on the move, many fleeing for their lives.

The EIS supports the work of key organisations that support people who are new to Scotland, and who work to challenge racist attitudes and behaviours that constitute a hostile environment for immigrants. One such organisation is the Maryhill Integration Network. We spoke to Pinar Aksu, Maryhill Integration Network Human Rights and Advocacy Coordinator about the context they are working in.

“The current Illegal Migration Bill 2023 imposes restrictions for those who are in search of seeking asylum and refuge. The Bill appears to violate the Refugee Convention as it removes a person’s right to seek asylum. It will affect anyone who arrives in the UK after 7th March 2023. Following the passage of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, people will be removed to Rwanda on arrival or directly detained. For those released from detention pending removal, hotel accommodation will be widely used across the country. This will further isolate vulnerable people and hinder them from accessing essential support, such as access to a lawyer, attending classes, community settings and engaging with community activities.”

People who are currently in the asylum process receive £45 weekly asylum support and those in hotel accommodation receive £9.10 per week, which is woefully inadequate and shameful.

Pinar Aksu went on to say, “The new Illegal Migration Bill will have a significant impact for the people we support at Maryhill Integration Network (MIN) and anyone who is in the process of seeking asylum. The Bill will abolish the asylum system in the UK, increasing destitution and detention. It will turn away from the Refugee Convention and international obligations of refugee protection. Many people at MIN are worried about the impact it will have for them, for us, and on anyone arriving in the UK after the 7th March. We have many people who have been left in the asylum system for many years without any answers. The new Bill will also remove protections for survivors of trafficking and re-introduce detention of children and pregnant women.”

Working for change, bringing people together

Maryhill Integration Network (MIN) was established to bring people seeking asylum, refuge, or migration, and the local community of Glasgow together. Since 2001, MIN has been developing projects which support positive social change by investing in communities and providing a welcoming and much-needed safe and inclusive space, with opportunities for collaboration and connection. A space where difference is not only welcomed, but also celebrated. MIN creates and structures activities around four themes: Human Rights and Citizenship, Wellbeing and Safety, Arts and Culture, and Development and Sustainability.

MIN runs weekly activities from ESOL classes to men’s groups, women’s groups, arts groups to MIN Voices advocacy and peer-support group. Its famous Joyous Choir will also be celebrating 10 years of singing sisterhood and solidarity songs in 2023! Alongside weekly activities, MIN has been collaborating for many years with schools across Glasgow around human rights, migration and creating welcoming spaces.

New education resources from Maryhill Integration Network

Migration Education Resources have been designed to support teachers, educators, and young people to understand migration and human rights. The resource aims to provide further guidance for educators through various activities.

The Sea of Paperwork was developed through participatory workshops from 2018 to 2019 with young people. Through a series of storytelling and visual arts workshops, young people came together to explore their feelings about, and experiences of migration, asylum and integration. The original artworks have been exhibited at the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) and at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA).

The animation, Under the Jasmine Tree, was created by pupils at Saint Fillian’s Primary School in collaboration with MIN and Media Co-op. The animation is based on an original poem written by Glasgow-based Syrian poet, Saffanna Aljbawi. Under the Jasmine Tree was developed at the school’s Migration After-School Club, set up by teacher Monica Cohen who, after hearing Saffanna read the poem at an event organised by MIN, invited her to read it at the after-school club. The children were so moved by Saffanna’s story that they wanted to share it with the world.

The animation gives people an insight into the truth about refugees’ lives. Everyone involved in the project feels passionately that refugees are too often misunderstood and marginalised.

“We hope the animation highlights the experiences faced by the people seeking sanctuary.” Pinar Aksu

Opportunities and further resources

Migration teaching resources should be used within a wider context of anti-racist education.

The EIS is the sole funder for this years’ Show Racism the Red Card Anti-Racism Creative Showcase.

This poses an opportunity for teachers to engage learners creatively with anti-racism messaging.

It may be that learners will want to focus on migration, refugees or asylum seekers’ rights as part of their input to the showcase.

In addition to the resources referenced above, further EIS guidance and teaching resources can be found on the EIS website.

These include:

  • Welcome Packs for Immigrant, Refugee and Asylum Seeker pupils (P1-S6)
  • Briefing: Anti-racist Education
  • Myths of Immigration booklets
  • The Tale o’ the Glasgow Girls teaching resources