Resources released in bid to challenge asylum-seeker and immigration myths

Written by: Sam Phipps | Published:

Teachers in Scotland can draw on new resources to help challenge misconceptions about immigration and asylum-seekers.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), has produced three guides, for different age ranges, which are being sent to all nurseries, schools, colleges and universities and published on its website.

Myths of Immigration was previewed at a special event at the Scottish Parliament. It provides definitions and facts – for instance, that refugees make up only 0.19 per cent of the UK population – as well as clarifying domestic and international legal obligations towards asylum-seekers. The secondary schools guide offers a range of whole-school approaches and specific ways in which the issues can be tackled through the curriculum.

These include making links with schools in other countries, perhaps through social media, to explore different narratives around immigration; and writing discursive essays.

The guide states: “Whether you have time to organise one assembly, to run one or a few specific lessons on immigration issues, or to develop a whole-school or college-wide approach, there is something you can do to tackle the myths of immigration.”

John Wilkes, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, who attended the launch, told SecEd: “We know that many teachers in Scotland are interested in this issue and it’s great to see such comprehensive resources to help school communities better understand the myths and realities of asylum and immigration.

“We know that attitudes to refugees and immigration are more positive in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK. However, we can’t be complacent and we must combat racism and xenophobia wherever they exist. Children can pick up misinformation, attitudes and prejudice from adults so it is critical that young people of all ages are equipped with the facts.”

EIS president Margaret Smith said: “We reject the demonisation of refugees and asylum-seekers that has become so widespread at a political level and in much of the tabloid press and right-wing media. We hope that teachers and lecturers will find this resource useful for supporting open, honest conversations about immigration and for countering some of the misinformation that has spread in recent years.”

These guides should be used in the context of a broader anti-racist education programme, and may help establishments meet their legal obligations to promote equality and tackle discrimination based on race or religion, Ms Smith added.

Nicola Hay, campaign manager for charity Show Racism the Red Card, said: “We are hearing more and more questions in the classroom regarding migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. Both pupils and teachers are concerned about the misinformation and negative attitudes that are being repeated in the classroom.”


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