BACKPACK ID is an innovative intervention for promoting the inclusion of refugee children at school in 4 European countries (Greece and Italy, Germany and Sweden), which are met with acute and very diverse challenges by the ongoing refugee crisis. Informed by these differences, the present approach on social inclusion advances a common account of social inclusion challenges; it sees the social inclusion of refugee children as a function of addressing the needs and perspectives of those children and their families, and local communities and stakeholders, while affirming common European values. As an essentially multidisciplinary approach, the project is based on expertise in social and developmental psychology, linguistics, and educational theory and practice. At the same time, it brings together academic expertise and valuable experience and know-how from educational organizations, international educational networks, and NGOs.

The intervention focuses on upper elementary and lower secondary-school (10-15 years old) students’ multiple collective memberships, backgrounds, and identities. It addresses both refugee and non-refugee students and seeks to:

  • Empower all students and make them see and experience aspects of “otherness” in themselves. Students’ families and/or immediate social background will be their main resources to this end. “Never leave your backpack behind” refers to the trivial belongings of great emotional and symbolic value that refugees may carry in their backpacks, and serves as common ground in the quest for “pathways” and “bridges” across group-memberships and identities.
  • Advance refugee students’ literacy development in the new language. This integrative approach to multiple identities, empowerment, and literacy development is a core innovative contribution of BACKPACK ID.