Course “Human Rights in Practice”
The group consisted of a total of 25 course participants.
The target group we worked with was twenty unaccompanied asylum-seeking boys and four unaccompanied asylum-seeking girls between the ages of 15-17.
All the participants were born in Afghanistan and applied for asylum in Sweden during the year 2015.
The participants’ educational background was varied. About half of the group had previously studied at school between 1-5 years and half of the group had studied Islam for 1-3 years in Koran school.
Since the course participants are minors and live in Sweden without their biological parents, they live in Swedish family homes and not in refugee centers or other types of institutions. The family homes consist of one or two adult persons who are Swedish-born or have lived in Sweden for so many years that they are well-integrated.
The purpose of the family home’s mission is to give emotional support to the asylum-seeking young person but also to support and encourage him or her to integrate into Swedish society. An important task for the family home is to break the young person’s isolation by being there for him or her in difficult situations as well as giving advice and support in everyday situations. The aim is that young asylum seekers will eventually be able to take care of themselves and move to their own homes.
All course participants study Swedish in classes organized for newly arrived asylum seeker minors. At the start of the course, participants have studied the Swedish language for a maximum of 6 months.
Course Human Rights in Practice, a course for unaccompanied asylum-seeking teenagers between the ages of 15-17 from Afghanistan.
Timeframe: June-July 2016, two days a week for five weeks
During five weeks we met to discuss school and education, job and employment, internet and social networks, drugs and alcohol, the Child Convention and Children’s Rights, Law and order, Ethics and moral, Health, Sex and sexual education, Society, Discrimination, Social welfare and Asylum Rights.
Since the course participants did not have enough knowledge of the Swedish language, we used an translator throughout the course. Throughout the course we also used two staff who could speak both Swedish and Dari. Their responsibility was to help and support participants with the Swedish language.
The course was a volunteer initiative and held by two course leaders. Every week a educator was invited. The educators were responsible for seminars & workshops lecturing about their areas of expertise. The educators contribution was also an volunteer work.
After each seminar time was allocated for questions and discussions. The topic of the day was discussed in the group and participants shared ideas and thoughts and plans regarding the future in Sweden. A total of five educators were invited during the course. An translator was present and translated all that was said during all the days.
Due to the fact that the participants study at school during normal school hours, the course was conducted during the summer holidays. In this way, the participants also have a meaningful activity to do during the summer holidays.
During the course, we used the game “Human Rights in Practice” developed by Folkuniversitetet in Uppsala. The participants were divided into five groups and played the game together. The game is divided into three different phases.
1) Preparation and collection of information
Each participant draws a card and is required to answer the question. The participant must look up any organization or authority or search information on the internet to get the answer.
2) Individual presentation
Each participant presents the information to the others in the group.
3) Discussion in group
Participants discuss, debate and argument the presented information and share their experiences regarding the specific issue
The participants daily played the game. Each participant draws a card, found out the answer to the question and then held an individual presentation to the group. The questions was related to the subject of the day. Due to the fact that we worked with a large group of people, there was no time for all participants to hold an individual presentation every day. At the time of each presentation four to six people were randomly selected to held a individual presentation.
At the end of the course, all participants had at least one individual presentation for the group sometime during the course.
The presentations were held in Swedish by the participants themselves and when the knowledge in the Swedish language was lacking, the translator helped the participants. The participants made every effort to manage the individual presentations on their own without the help of someone else.
Week 1, School and education, job and employment
During week one the right to education was discussed and what it means in practice. A teacher was invited and the group received a review of the Swedish school system, which courses are available in Sweden, what grades are required to enter different education programs, student finance, who is entitled to receive student loans and finance from The Swedish Board of Student Finance (CSN), what the school duty means and where you can get help with tips on different educational issues.
We discussed what types of jobs are available in Sweden and what educational background you need to get a job. How does the Swedish salary system look like. What obligations and rights employees have in Sweden, What types of requirements can employers have and how to apply for a job in Sweden.
Each participant was given a homework assignment to write a CV that they then submitted to the course leader.
Week 2, internet & social networks, the Child Convention and Children’s Rights
A lawyer was invited to hold a lecture for the group. We had interesting discussions about the limits of the freedom of speech in a democratic society, own responsibility and where is the limit of freedom of expression, responsibility and what happens when different rights collide. The other points of discussion have been incitement to racial hatred, Internet hatred and bullying based on the law and and human responsibility.
Week 3, Law and order, Ethics and moral, Drugs and alcohol
A policeman from Uppsala was invited and told about what happens when young people under the age of 18 are breaking the law in Sweden. What consequences it has and how the legal system works. She also told us about such complex issues as law, crime and punishment. We discussed alcohol, drugs, relationships, freedom and responsibility. Zero tolerance against drugs in Sweden as well as laws/consequences for those who sell/buy drugs. We looked at differences and similarities regarding the law and its implementation in Sweden and Afghanistan.
Week 4, Health, Sex och sexual education , Discrimination
A educator from RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) was invited. We discussed body, relationships, sex and gender, save sex, sexual identity, pleasure, homosexuality, the right to love whoever you want and the right to marry the one you want.
What does this right mean in practice for a 18-year girl or boy? What are Swedish laws and what are the differences between Swedish laws and laws in Afghanistan? What are the differences between our cultures? And where to turn if you have questions and thoughts about your own body or sexuality.
Week 5, The Social Services Act and Asylum Rights
A experienced person from the Social Services was invited. The group received a thorough presentation about the law, its history and implementation.
We also discussed the law of LVU (Law on care of young people), LVM (Law on care for addicts), and SOL (The Social Services Act). In addition to this we had a thorough review of the Social Security Officer’s responsibilities, human obligations and rights, compensation and economic finance from the municipality to asylum seekers and the prohibition of corporal punishment.
The aim of the course:
Participants understand that each individual has obligations and rights in society
At the end of the course we had a big barbecue party for all participants, prizes and diplomas were awarded to all participants.
We have had many intensive and exciting discussions, reports and presentations. The young participants have partially trained the Swedish language, received information about important laws and unwritten rules in Sweden, but also learned about the most fundamental rights that all children have in Sweden. This effort will speed up a future establishment in working life and society life for young people.
Participants were encouraged to discover, learn, communicate and generally come into contact with different organizations and authorities. By giving the participants their own responsibility their self-confidence increased. Week by week we could clearly see that the participants developed and dared to be more and more involved during the course.
Both during the course and after the course the participants showed great gratitude and joy because they had the opportunity to complete the course. We received very positive feedback from the young people.
After the course we could see a clear knowledge difference between the young people who have gone through the course and the other young people we work with who have not participated in the course.
The biggest difference was that those who participated the course did not end up in conflict with their family homes as often as before. There was a bigger understanding of the social structure and the young people who had completed the course had more knowledge of their own obligations and their rights in society.
As a result, we did not need to work as hard and as much with conflict management in the family homes compared to earlier. Fewer situations where the young person misunderstood the family home occurred.
The young people who had participated in the course also had a better relationship with the staff at Integrationslyftet than those who did not participate in the course. The participants in greater reach open up and talk about their thoughts, problems, ideas and difficulties in life with the staff.
Our idea was to go through with part two of the course in July 2017 to follow up the participants, but also to teach them more about Swedish society.
Unfortunately, however, this could not be accomplished due to the fact that several of the participants moved from their family homes in the summer of 2017 and for that reason they had also left Integrationslyftet.
On May 1, 2017, the Swedish Migration Board decided to evaluate the age of unaccompanied asylum seekers earlier in the asylum process through medical age tests.
Six of the young people who participated in the course received a change in their birth date and were no longer counted as minors. For that reason they could no longer live in their family homes. They felt very psychologically bad and did not want to participate in part two of the course. They said they felt hopeless and told us that they did not see any benefit from attending part two of the course.
Five of the participants received a negative response / message for their asylum application and disappeared without any trace. We completely lost contact with these young people.
When we look at the remaining fourteen young people still living in their family homes we see the following facts:
☒ Language Training
☒ Intercultural communication