Since the beginning of September, the CORE project partner European Office, Vienna board of Education, is implementing a curriculum for recognised refugee teachers in cooperation with the University of Vienna. The curriculum is unique throughout the EU: in a ten months training programme, 23 participants are prepared in theory and practice for their engagement as teachers in 14 schools with high attendance of refugee pupils. The entry requirements for this certificate course were very strict: Before starting the training, the participants must have had working experience as teachers and a very good knowledge of German (level B2). By the end of the course, participants need to have an excellent knowledge of German (level C1).
Most of the teachers, who are part of the training programme, have studied so-called MINT-subjects (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology). For instance Ahmed, who worked as a teacher for information technology in Iraq. Ahmed explains his motivation: “The course is very interesting and a great chance for me to learn about the Austrian school and education system.” Besides the important theoretical aspects regarding educational knowledge and the school system in Austria, the practical aspects are very important in this programme. Therefore, the teachers complete internships at secondary schools in Vienna. For Jomard, a physics teacher from Syria, being back in school is very special: “When I started my internship here in Vienna it was an emotional moment. To be back working in a school is a wonderful experience for me.”
Once the participants have completed the course, they are allowed to teach their subject and have the legal qualification to get a special contract. As in Austria there are too few teachers who have studied a MINT-subject, the chances for the refugee teachers to find a job after this course are very good. Also because there are around 5.500 refugee pupils in Viennese schools at the moment. In qualifying refugee teachers it is hoped that these teachers will be able to support the integration of the newly arrived children and to make communication between teachers and parents, who speak foreign languages, easier.
Moreover, for asylum seeker teachers, trainings regarding the Austrian school system as well as school tandems are being organized. As asylum seekers are allowed to do “public service work”, a group of 23 teachers was selected to work in 22 Viennese schools supporting the local staff with translation work, attendance at excursions and learning aid. At the end of their practice the participants will receive a certificate.
Empowerment for entrepreneurship
Empowerment for entrepreneurs also plays an important role within the CORE project. Refugees are a relevant pool of possible entrepreneurs. But many of those, who try to start their own businesses, do not know the legal and financial risks of becoming self-employed in Austria. That is why the Vienna Business Agency addresses this target group and supports them with free service and advice – concretely by organizing workshops and trainings in the branches gastronomy, bakery/confectionery, carpentry and IT. The first round of workshops started in November and was organized in Arabic and English.
People with an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong desire to learn are taking part in these workshops: the IT workshop for example is an extensive twelve-week program, which gives refugees with an entrepreneurial mind-set access to knowlegde, which they need as future freelancers. The 14 participants of this program acquire five core skills in order to build up their own businesses: web development, media making, digital communication, collaboration and cooperation as well as personal branding and digital security. One of the participants is Mahmood, an IT engineer from Yemen. Gaining new job perspectives was a big motivation for him to join the course. “As a refugee it is hard to find a job in Austria. Therefore, I think working as a freelancer would be a good alternative opportunity. This workshop is the ideal preparation for us to work independently and self-employed one day”, Mahmood emphasizes. And his colleague, Omar from Iraq, says: “I want to be a web developer in the future. That is why I wanted to learn new things, especially about web developing. In this course I learn a lot of new stuff, which is great.” By acquiring new skills in different areas in the IT sector, the participants do not only learn for their future but also gain important new perspectives for their professional lives.