VETcontra

Vocational schools, secondary schools and vocational training institutions are often confronted with learners coming from different social, cultural or racial backgrounds. Under these circumstances, it happens often that frictions arise that are born out of prejudice, low self esteem and latent xenophobia. When such problems emerge and difficulties escalate, and when young people do not see positive perspectives, a critical minority, but in rising numbers, is attracted by extremist ideologies, such as Neo-Nazi groups or the djihadist movement of the „Islamic State“.

The Radicalisation Awareness Network of the European Commission states that „the best prevention is to stop people from getting involved in violent extremist or terrorist activities in the first place, or to convince them to turn away from such ideas and methods…. The people best placed to tackle the phenomenon of radicalisation are the so called first-liners – people in direct contact with targeted individuals or vulnerable groups of population.

Teachers and trainers – the called „first-liners“ above – need therefore new skills and competences to be better prepared to deal with intercultural tensions between diverse groups of learners and detect, at an early stage, indicators of radicalisation among their learners. We will raise their awareness and identify initiatives, best practice examples and tools that help them do their work better, to find out who is at risk and the best way of helping people who need support. What tools and methods are available and most effective to provide this support? Who has undergone traumatic experience and shows a behaviour that is a consequence of post-traumatic stress disorder? How can a teacher detect such symptoms?

Our project will provide vocational teachers and trainers with information and best practice about effective tools and methods, in order to help them do their work better. They will be able to acquire skills and knowledge to apply interventions in a preventive stage, and to focus on self-esteem, empathy towards out-groups and managing negative emotions. In the long run, this approach will lead to a better learning climate, better learning results and will reduce racism and xenophobia in the classroom.