Germany: A Training Plan for Refugee Teachers

Germany: A Training Plan for Refugee Teachers

A German university is launching a program aimed at enabling teachers who fled Syria and other countries to return to the classroom, potentially helping them serve as bridge-builders between German schools and the many new refugee arrivals.

The project at the University of Potsdam, outside Berlin, starts as Germany increasingly focuses on integrating what will likely be hundreds of thousands of people into its society and workforce.

In April 2016, the first all-Syrian group of refugees grappled with the intricacies of German time-telling and days of the week at the modern university campus on the city’s outskirts.

The 11-month course to familiarize them with the language and Germany’s education system starts with months of intensive German courses. Then they’ll take part in regular teacher training and learn about teaching in Germany, ending with practice at a school.

“I was very happy that there is a course specifically for refugees who are teachers — that’s what I want,” said Alaa Kassab, a 23-year-old from Aleppo, who taught English and other subjects to young children in Syria.

Mirjam Vock, a professor of education at the university who helped initiate the program, said she and others launched it after realizing there was “no program in Germany for this group of highly qualified people.”

The university received more than 700 applications but had only 25 places in its first course.  The Associated Press