Glasgow refugee children speak out on persecution

10th August 2001 at 01:00
YOUNG asylum seekers in Glasgow will tell their distressing tales of persecution in their native countries in a leaflet that will be distributed next month to all parents in the city.

The decision to explain their experiences was taken before this week's racial troubles in the Sighthill area and the backlash against the presence of large numbers of overseas families.

Kurds who have fled Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq are among the largest grouping, along with Iranians, Palestinians and Sri Lankans. Other significant groups are from the former Yugoslavia and Somalia.

Les McLean, race equality officer for education, said there were few problems for the earlier influx of Kosovan families since everyone knew where they came from and had seen the images on television.

Glasgow educates 1,110 "international" children in 21 primaries and seven secondaries and helps them integrate into mainstream classes through a network of bilingual bases. Nearly 70 teachers work with them.

Mr McLean said: "There is a lot of preparation before children enter the bases with staff and pupils in the 28 schools. In primaries, teachers address issues through circle time. Misconceptions can be discussed and countered. All schools also operate a buddy system. Every pupil coming into a mainstream class will have a buddy to show them around."

Mr McLean said refugee families saw education as a way out of their predicament.

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