As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, access to education is proving, more than ever, to be essential to ensuring a swift recovery, while promoting equal opportunities for all. As part of this recovery process, the Erasmus+ programme takes its inclusive dimension to a new horizon by supporting opportunities for personal, socio-educational and professional development of people in Europe and beyond, with the aim of leaving no-one behind.
To increase the qualitative impact of its actions and ensure equal opportunities, the erasmus+ Programme reaches out more and better to people of different ages and from diverse cultural, social and economic backgrounds. It is at the heart of the Programme to come closer to those with fewer opportunities, including people with disabilities and migrants, as well as European Union citizens living in remote areas or facing socio-economic difficulties. In doing so, Erasmus+ also encourages its participants, in particular young people, to engage and learn to participate in civic society, raising awareness about European Union common values.
Based on the overall principles and mechanisms at European level and promoted on a national level by the Italian National Agency, Accademia di Belle Arti di Verona implements the measures aimed at promoting a better and diverse inclusion in the program of participants with fewer opportunities.
The list of such potential barriers, spelt out below, is not exhaustive and is meant to provide a reference in taking action with a view to increasing accessibility and outreach to people with fewer opportunities.
These barriers can hinder their participation both as a stand-alone factor and in combination among them:
Disabilities: This includes physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder someone’s full and effective participation in society on the same footing as others
Health problems: Barriers may result from health issues including severe illnesses, chronic diseases, or any other physical or mental health-related situation that prevents from participating in the programme.
Barriers linked to education and training systems: Individuals struggling to perform in education and training systems for various reasons, early school-leavers, NEETs (people not in education, employment or training) and low-skilled adults may face barriers.
Cultural differences: While cultural differences may be perceived as barriers by people from any backgrounds, they can particularly affect people with fewer opportunities. Such differences may represent significant barriers to learning in general, all the more for people with a migrant or refugee background – especially newly-arrived migrants -, people belonging to a national or ethnic minority, sign language users, people with linguistic adaptation and cultural inclusion difficulties, etc. Being exposed to foreign languages and cultural differences when taking part in any kind of programme activities may put off individuals and somehow limit the benefits from their participation. And such cultural differences may even prevent potential participants from applying for support through the programme, thereby representing an entry barrier altogether.
Social barriers: Social adjustment difficulties such as limited social competences, anti-social or high-risk behaviours, (former) offenders, (former) drug or alcohol abusers, or social marginalisation may represent a barrier. Other social barriers can stem from family circumstances, for instance being the first in the family to access higher education or being a parent (especially a single parent), a caregiver, a breadwinner or an orphan, or having lived or currently living in institutional care.
Economic barriers: Economic disadvantage like a low standard of living, low income, learners who need to work to support themselves, dependence on the social welfare system, in long-term unemployment, precarious situations or poverty, being homeless, in debt or with financial problems, etc., may represent a barrier. Other difficulties may derive from the limited transferability of services (in particular support to people with fewer opportunities) that needs to be “mobile” together with the participants when going to a far place or, all the more, abroad.
Barriers linked to discrimination: Barriers can occur as a result of discriminations linked to gender, age, ethnicity, religion, beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or intersectional factors (a combination of two or several of the mentioned discrimination barriers).
Geographical barriers: Living in remote or rural areas, on small islands or in peripheral/outermost regions, in urban suburbs, in less serviced areas (limited public transport, poor facilities) or less developed areas in third countries, etc., may constitute a barrier.