Panel 3

Inclusive education: Ways and means of countering discrimination in education with the help of civil society organizations

November 12, 2020
14:00 – 15:30 (Germany) / 15:00 – 16:30 (Greece) / 16:00 – 17:30 (Turkey)

Increasing forced migration to Turkey and the EU over the last decade has further fueled the debate on how to deal with plurality in education. While the historically entrenched nexus of nationhood and education still provides a powerful framework for pedagogical processes, criticism is more and more voiced against a monolingual culture in schools and approaches that focus on a one-sided integration of “refugee minors” into national educational settings. In this respect, in recent years a variety of parties have called for a barrier-free, high-quality education for all children, based on a multi-dimensional understanding of inclusion advocating that, in addition to the aspect of disability, further diversity dimensions should be taken into account when developing inclusive education institutions.

In this panel we discuss inclusive approaches, projects, and strategies aiming to enable equal participation in education and promoting educational processes that are sensitive to multiple forms of discrimination and belonging. We will ask how neo-liberal developments, as currently observed in education systems worldwide, should be considered when designing inclusive educational spaces. By this, we will also focus on the role of non-governmental education initiatives in addressing exclusionary dynamics in education systems as well as new challenges that have arisen in actors’ work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Çetin Çelik

is an assistant professor of sociology at Koç University. He is also affiliated with the Migration Research Center at Koç University (MiReKoc). His primary research interest is in the sociology of education, as well as immigrant and refugee integration. His current research focuses comparatively on parental strategies in the field of education among various social classes for social mobility of their offspring, with attention to the role of state and society relations in the Global South.


Mechtild Gomolla

is professor of Intercultural and Comparative Education in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Helmut Schmidt-University/University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg (Germany) since October 2009. Core areas of her theoretical and empirical work cover a broad range of issues including education and migration. She has researched extensively on educational inequality and racism and institutional discrimination within the state school system. With Ellen Kollender and Marlene Menk, she has recently published a reader on racism and right-wing extremism in Germany (“Racism and right-wing extremism in Germany. Figurations and interventions in society and state institutions, BeltzJuventa 2018, published in German). In national and international comparative research she also deals with professionalizing of teachers, school development, and educational transformation toward a socially just and democratic education. She is carrying out a study on school reform, new educational governance, and migration in Germany. Mechtild will speak on “Transformations of educational institutions toward social justice: Tensions between New Governance and Inclusion.”

Özge Sönmez Vardar

has 15 years of experience working with national and international stakeholders at the intersection of environmental awareness, poverty alleviation, and education for vulnerable populations. Ten years ago, Özge co-founded “YUVA,” a non-governmental organization generating holistic, sustainable solutions to environmental, educational, and social issues in Turkey and around the world. At YUVA she leads the Human Development and Earth Citizenship Programme, developing new educational programs on human rights and the environment that are implemented in partnership with different NGOs, INGOs, and UN bodies. Since 2019, Özge has also been part of the Malala Fund Education Champions Network. With support from the Malala Fund, as an education champion, she works to improve Syrian refugee girls’ access to and retention in public secondary schools in Turkey by training educators on how to manage culturally diverse classrooms, teach Turkish as a second language, and help Syrian refugee girls adjust to school. Özge will speak on Creating inclusive learning environments from the bottom up: Civil society initiatives between professionalization and grassroots orientation.”

Marina Liakis

is a French-Greek citizen and serves as “Zaatar” NGO’s Director. After studying Law and Communications in Paris and New York City, Marina began a career in humanitarian work. During her professional career, she has worked at a variety of international organizations including the United Nations and The French Embassy. In 2016, after volunteering at the Port of Piraeus with refugees arriving in Athens, she decided to found Zaatar NGO. She speaks Arabic, English, French, Greek, and Spanish. The NGO helps asylum seekers, migrants, and refugees in the center of Athens. Their day-center is open every day, offering access to a lawyer, psychologist, and a range of classes. They also run a shelter for women and children, a helpline for LGBTQI asylum seekers, and a restaurant that provides trainings and jobs to refugees. Marina will speak on “From ‘vulnerable’ to “empowered”: The role of NGOs in providing safe spaces and education for refugees in particular need of protection.”

Saman Hamdi

is a Bboy (dancer), hip hop scholar, and activist. Having danced for over 21 years (inter alia German champion in 2010), he also organizes events, such as the HollyHood Filmfestival for Hip Hop & Social Justice. He is part of the Battle of the Year team and arranges many smaller jams and social projects together with his breakdance crew “Flowjob” in East Germany and Berlin. Apart from conducting local workshops, panels, and hip hop conferences, Saman Hamdi has for the last seven years been teaching breakdance to refugee and German kids together as well as facilitating successful campaigns against deportation (one of these projects won an integration award from the federal state Saxony-Anhalt). He is currently writing his PhD on hip hop culture’s potential for social and educational projects as well as collective action. With an interdisciplinary background, Saman Hamdi has been teaching courses at Potsdam University for three years on Hip Hop & Social Justice and  Social Movements and Critical Pedagogy. He won the teaching award of the federal state of Brandenburg in 2015. Saman will speak on Break borders! Fostering inclusion with the subversive potential of arts education?”


Burcu Meltem Arık

joined the Education Reform Initiative (ERG), an independent, not-for-profit think tank that contributes to systemic transformation in education for the development of children and society, in 2007. At ERG, Burcu conducted critical thinking, teacher policy, and good practices in education projects. Since 2017, she has been ERG’s education observatory coordinator. Between 2015 and 2020, Burcu taught classes on ecological literacy and sustainability and biomimicry at Istanbul Bilgi University. She is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Education and Communication Commission, the co-author of “The Council of Europe Sustainability for Youth” and “Mediterranean-Mosaic,” and the founding partner of the House of Nature Games (Doğa Oyunları Evi). Burcu studied industrial and environmental chemistry at Middle East Technical University.

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