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The European Union has been a key destination for diverse migration movements since at least the mid-20th century. Although the topic of migration in the EU has thus been topical for a long time, the so-called “refugee crisis” of 2015 has pushed it further into the centre of political and societal discussion. The enormous numbers of people seeking protection and asylum not only pose challenges for the main host countries such as Germany, France and Greece, but the entire European Union. Now, almost four years later, the initial question of how to react for the most part has been answered and the “refugee crisis” is no longer as present in the media. The topic itself, however, remains more relevant than ever. The large number of approved asylum applications, of relatives joining their family in the target country, and the continual stream of migrants mean that the number of citizens requiring integration is steadily increasing. Successfully integrating refugees in the long-term is thus becoming a more and more significant task for all countries of the European Union.
The task spectrum has shifted—but is nowhere near close to being solved
Since the refugee crisis began in 2015, the challenges on the political, societal and structural levels have changed. Urgent initial response and care for newly-arrived refugees was of the highest priority. In addition, it was also necessary to establish the proper parameters to enable short or even long-term admission of these people. Emergency accommodation and reception centres had to be provided or even built from scratch, infrastructure, staff and jurisdiction had to be adjusted to the extreme situation, and border controls had to be reinforced.
In the meantime, the enormous flux of new arrivals, and thus the need for first response, has sunk. Following the processing and evaluation of the wave of asylum applications, the main host countries in the European Union now have to deal with the issue of long-term successful integration of refugees, thus facing a time-intensive and complex task which can hardly be performed alone by the authorities.
The significance of volunteers for migration
Volunteers contributed massively to the management of initial reception of and care for the asylum seekers, particularly at the outset of the refugee crisis. Especially in Germany, but also in other countries of the European Union, the iconic images of the “welcome culture” were quickly spread throughout the media and stuck in peoples’ minds.
In terms of this immense willingness to help with urgent tasks, such as the distribution of food or clothes, volunteers were well and rightly considered to be the driving force behind the admission and integration of refugees. Today, it has quietened down and the media reports, as well as the overall mood, have changed. Yet, especially in view of the time-intensive task of integration assistance, volunteers are more important than ever and their involvement makes many integration programmes possible in the first place. Supporting and promoting the volunteer sector in the countries of the European Union is therefore a central task upon which the Innovation in Learning Institute at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg has placed particular focus, especially in terms of digital adult learning.
Digital training provision for the volunteer sector for asylum and integration
The Innovation in Learning Institute coordinates the Erasmus+ Project CaseWORK and works in cooperation with four other countries—Slovenia, Greece, Italy and Austria—on creating a free-of-charge online training seminar for volunteers active in the areas of asylum and integration. The training seminar includes a total of three learning modules which enable volunteers to find out more about legal questions, current decisions and developments, to improve their intercultural competencies, and receive psychological support tailored to their particular needs and daily challenges—all online and accessible at any time. By means of the flexible provision of digital materials, informal and non-formal training provision is also to be made accessible for the target group of honorary workers without taking up additional time resources and making everyday life more difficult.
Want to find out more about CaseWORK? Read the next blog post about the project and learn more about the online training seminar for volunteers in asylum and integration!
Image rights: Adobe Stock -hanohiki; Logo -caseWORK
Read the other contributions to the EPALE focus week on the European elections 2019 —shaping Europe together!
Digital education for the successful integration of refugees in the EU
Mona Schliebs, Innovation in Learning Institute (ILI), Germany
How can digital education in the sense of informal or non-formal learning support migration in the European Union? The Institute for Innovation in Learning at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg has addressed this question. The result is the Erasmus+ project CaseWORK, which is being carried out in cooperation with four other EU countries: Slovenia, Italy, Greece and Austria. The aim of the project is to provide long-term support for the integration of refugees. Read here about the project!
Connecting language(s) - Language work with refugees (DE)
Thomas Fritz, lernraum.wien, Austria
Many people have to flee violence, war and the destruction of their living environment. They often suffer traumas, which are often exacerbated by prevailing discourses on upper limits and border fences in the so-called arrival countries. One key issue is the experience of a loss of speech and the inability to communicate as before. In his blogpost, Thomas Fritz, head of lernraum.wien, talks about language loss, language work and mutual language exchange in his work with refugees.
Can solidarity and tolerance be taught? (DE)
Herbert Langthaler, asylkoordination Österreich
Asylkoordination Österreich has been active in the field of school and adult education for 25 years. On the one hand, it aims at providing Austrians with insights into the situation of refugees and those in need of protection who live in Austria. On the other hand, it develops education offers that help uncover mechanisms of racist thought patterns as well as prejudices and discrimination. Herbert Langenthaler describes the work of asylkoordination and the current challenges it faces in his blog.
erwachsenenbildung.at Magazine: Flight, Migration and Education (DE)
The topic of migration is key in adult education. Especially with regard to the following questions: What competences do refugees bring with them? How can we validate them? Which educational measures are suitable for people from other education systems? And how does adult education, being itself the middle of a discourse on professionalisation, deal with these questions? The 31st issue of the magazine erwachsenenbildung.at gives an overview of these topics.
Paradoxes from a language tester’s life
Ina Ferbežar, Slovenia (translation from EN)
Ina Ferbežar from the Centre for Slovene as a Second and Foreign Language works as a language teacher and tester. One of her tasks is to conduct language proficiency tests for prospective citizens of Slovenia. In this blog post she describes her daily work and discusses whether foreign language teaching in Slovenia could in itself be an obstacle for refugees wishing to gain citizenship in their host countries.