This pilot used different fairy tales for the Dialogic Literary Gatherings (DLGs) and mathematics for the Interactive Group (IG). The target group, which involved 15 to 20 children, expressed a keen interest in psychosocial support and educational activities, with children exhibiting strong motivation for educational engagement. Moreover, the parents actively contributed to organising and facilitating activities related to the Successful Educational Actions (SEAs). 

Educational activities are designed to ignite children’s enthusiasm for learning and provide them with a nurturing environment for their educational growth by using methods such as MHPSS practices like ‘Right to Play’ and ‘Team Up’ activities. Other programmes and initiatives included ‘quiz walk’ walking in the nearby forest to explore nature and eating together; they focused on academic motivation, social-emotional development, and cognitive skills enhancement. Parents actively collaborated with the centre to help create a conducive learning environment, taking part in the organisation of educational workshops, facilitating discussions, and promoting interactive learning experiences.

Impact and successes

IGs and DLGs have contributed to an increase in the children’s confidence and trust by emphasising that there are no right or wrong answers, and that each child’s views are valuable. By recognising and valuing their strengths, skills, and cultural backgrounds, these practices helped boost children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. This, in turn, positively impacted their overall wellbeing and motivated them to engage actively in learning and social activities. When students actively engaged in their learning process, their motivation and enthusiasm increased and led to better academic performance such as solving mathematics questions, puzzle games and Sudoku games. 

DLGs and IGs encourage students to take an active role in their education, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility. The volunteers followed the IG and DLG guidelines and practices, by involving students in decision-making processes in an egalitarian way and providing them with opportunities to contribute to their learning environment, which promoted a culture of active participation that benefitted both students and educators.

Lessons, learning and recommendations

The project has gained a reputation for maintaining standards, transparency, and effective evaluation processes. Informal conversations with teachers, volunteers and parents in focus groups and wrap-up discussions have indicated positive results. Teachers have noticed more positive interactions among children thanks to the implemented methods.

The Intercultural Centre is located in the city where migrant families receive resident permits; they are living in a new society in which the norms, traditions and practices are unclear for them. There were therefore some areas where a context-sensitive approach and early risk assessments were lacking. Furthermore, certain evaluation questions did not take into account the sensitivities of migrant families concerned about services in Sweden. It is important to emphasise the need for language that can be understood by both the target groups and staff members. While the project aims to promote inclusion, its primary focus on children as a whole meant it neglected the needs of children with disabilities or learning difficulties. Applicability to all children should be taken into consideration.

While evaluations are valuable it is important to avoid documentation that may overwhelm both children and teachers. It is desired to communicate project results to volunteers and teachers while involving them in study visits for understanding. The time required for staff members to establish relationships is vital. However, the cultural centre has already established a close relation with families with a migrant background and is well-placed to build relationships and avoid misunderstanding.

A combination of SEAs and MHPSS as a novel idea has proven to be effective and successful. This can be a strong argument for advancing the sustainability of Refuge-ed actions at the local and national level, in order to help develop a better education system that works for all and leads to dynamic integration and social inclusion.