The history of the Migration Awareness Programme dates back to year 2000, as People in Need established the website infoservis.net, bringing up-to-date articles and information from various parts of the world on issues such as humanitarian and development aid, human rights, migration, and social exclusion in the Czech Republic. We had also published newspaper supplements on these topics—initially and especially in Respekt and Lidové noviny, and later, in a lot of other print media. Due to the need to focus more on migration and integration, a special Migration Awareness Programme was created, which since then has implemented both small and large (inter)national projects in cooperation with Czech and foreign partners.
Our current project People between the lines: Building skills for quality migration coverage, is funded by the European Commission and seeks to raise public awareness and break stereotypes about migrants in partner countries in order to combat xenophobia and intolerance, which are currently on the rise. The project is aimed at key multipliers in this field—future and contemporary journalists—and supports them in building skills, knowledge, and the sensitivity needed for quality and unbiased reporting on these topics. The Migration Awareness Programme has been running an accredited course Journalist and Minority Issues—Media and Migration at the Institute of Communication Studies and Journalism, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague. The course is aimed at journalism students and includes both theoretical and practical parts, during which students have the opportunity to write and possibly publish their own media outcomes. The project also builds on research conducted on media framing of migration related topics in partner countries, and data is used to adapt course content to national specifics and discuss it with media houses.
If you are interested in comparing individual European integration policies targeting asylum seekers and international protection holders, follow the results of the research project The National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM). What is gleamed and compared in it? For example, whether the criteria for obtaining citizenship for international protection holders in all EU countries are the same or if the rules allowing refugee access to the labour market differ among European countries. The aim of the NIEM project, which runs in two phases until 2021, is to develop a tool for evaluating national integration policies aimed at applicants and holders of international protection in selected EU countries while monitoring their application in practice. We publish the data on www.forintegration.eu. People in Need, together with 15 other European organizations and research institutions, participate in the research. The strategic partner is MPG (The Migration Policy Group), an organization which creates the MIPEX index evaluating the integration policies of the European Union and another nine selected states. The project leader is the IPA (the Institute of Public Affairs).
The V4NIEM project (Visegrád Countries National Integration Evaluation Mechanism) is also run in parallel with the NIEM project, which specifically focuses on a long-term evaluation of the effectiveness of state integration policies targeting Visegrád countries. Its aim is to streamline and improve the integration of refugees and other international protection holders in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia in order to prevent inconsistencies and disagreements between newcomers and locals and reduce the risk of potential mutual intolerance. The first research report on asylum seekers and international protection holders in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia is available in five language versions and is free to download here. The V4NIEM project is co-financed by the Visegrád Fund under the Visegrád Strategic Grant.
To develop competencies in recognizing and rejecting prejudices and negative stereotypes in secondary school, the Migration Awareness Programme runs in cooperation with the One World in Schools project To be in. Our aim is for students to learn how to help them critically evaluate and receive messages and information from media and social networks. They can then better form opinions and attitudes based on facts and verified information. Within the project, a methodology of media education, Being in Picture 2, was created, which also includes materials for teaching about the media image of migration.
At the peak of the so-called refugee crisis in Europe, we implemented the project Refugees, neighbours, and Us: Migration, media, and society on both sides of the border, funded by the Czech-German Fund for the Future. Although the number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany and the Czech Republic is incomparable, the topic of the refugee crisis and migration has become a major social issue in both countries, affecting mutual relations between the two countries. In this situation, we considered it useful for representatives of civil society, politicians, and municipalities on both sides of the border to share experiences and find common solutions. Thanks to the project, we managed to connect Czech and Saxon actors—journalists, NGOs, or representatives of local governments and officials.
In the second project funded by the Czech-German Fund for the Future, Fact (or) migration: A dialogue of experts with the public and the general public, we focused on the level of the debate about migration, integration, and refugees in the Czech Republic. We invited academics focused on such topics as well as members of non-governmental organizations from Germany to the Czech Republic. During our three public lectures, followed by a debate, we managed to bring together actors of the Czech and German academic communities, and our guests also provided several media interviews.
The project Lets be together: Do we know what integration is? aimed to raise the awareness of Czech society about migration and issues related to the integration of migrants from third countries who come to the Czech Republic through intensive cooperation with the media and the publication of relevant data on migration and integration. We published a newspaper supplement in a weekly magazine, focused on the education of journalists and future journalists, and organized public events. A similar project named the Media, migration and labor market project: Informing the public about integration focused on the economic aspects of migration.
The project How to understand media communication on migration and refugees introduced secondary school students to the framing of migration-related topics in the media. Thanks to the project, students were able to adopt a critical approach through media communication and to understand the mechanisms of media work through school visits from journalists. The project was financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
In 2016, the project Promoting a tolerant society in real and virtual space ended, highlighting the risks associated with the spread of racism, xenophobia, and hate development on social networks. We focused on the analysis of manifestations of intolerance towards foreigners on social networks. You can see the results in the publication Hate Speech in Online Space.
One of our major international projects was the 18-month Face2face: Facilitating dialogue between migrants and European citizens. The project aimed to contribute to the integration of migrants by supporting their communication and media skills. A better presentation of migrants in the media helps to reduce stereotypes and negative perceptions in the majority society. It was realized not only in the Czech Republic but also in Great Britain, Spain, and Italy. The project included, among other things, media training for migrants, a tutorial for teachers and students about writing about migration, a documentary film, and public events.
The previous project was followed by a purely Czech project Face2Face II: Support of dialogue between migrants from third countries and citizens of the Czech Republic at the local level. In this, we helped to strengthen migrants' media skills and contribute to their involvement in media communication activities which are part of their lives and coexistence at the local level. The project included a public event, a summer film school, and media training for migrants.
In 2014, we implemented the Migration to the center project, in cooperation with the Multicultural Center Prague and other organizations focusing on migration and integration policies in Central Europe and the attention of the wider public and policymakers. The project explores and discusses ways in which activities in Central Europe are carried out. Key thematic areas were identified in the labour market, family reunification, education, and higher education.
In 2013, the Mistra: Migrant inclusion strategies in European cities project focused on migrants living in cities, aiming to get acquainted with the creation of European metropolitan integration policies and, in addition to Prague, a total of seven other European cities. As part of the project, we conducted a research analysis of the situation of migrants and minorities in Prague. Based on this analysis, we were assigned a partner city which best suits our local needs and whose representatives became our integration mentors for a year— Dublin and the partner organization Ballymun Job Center. Among other things, we organized workshops for city representatives, representatives of migrant organizations, and all those involved in the integration policy of the capital city. We also created a handbook, the so-called compendium of good integration practices, to continue serving community politicians.
Another partnership project, which we were developing for two years together with the Association for Integration and Migration and the Ogilvy & Mather Advertising Agency, was Equal opportunity on the threshold of Czech households, focusing on a specific and very vulnerable group of migrant women workers. The aim of the project was to reduce the vulnerability of female foreigners working in Czech households. By reflecting on this not yet discussed topic, we tried to strengthen empathy towards this vulnerable group and allow the public to understand the specific conditions in which female workers find themselves. The most prominent part of the project was a public campaign, which took the form of a fictitious agency Alien for Cleaning. The agency's promotion was based on the real experiences of women working in the households, and its offer reflected what was happening in real households. The basis of the campaign became advertisements with labels for individual women, which were offered de facto as inanimate, nameless goods. The aim was to show that housework is a job like any other. It follows the same rules and is covered by the labour code. The campaign also created a so-called ten-person fair employer.
We followed up on earlier radio work with a new project called Crossroads: How a personal story can contribute to the integration of foreigners into Czech society, which included the radio show broadcast in 2011 called Crossings. The program not only introduced the stories of migrants, but their direct involvement in the preparation of the whole broadcast helped them to improve their communication skills, awareness of the Czech media environment, and support them in active communication with the media and the public.