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Validating Integration Competences of Refugees

Integration is certainly one of the most challenging tasks within our European societies. How can we make integration successful and how can we support refugees or other migrants in the process? It goes without saying that integration needs Integration Competences. How can integration competence developments be validated? How can integration be fostered by labour market programmes or competence oriented learning and how can integration learning activities be systematically planned and enhanced? These are questions that the VIC project is dealing with.

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VIC at a glance ...

VIC stands for Validating Integration Competences of refugees and is a two-year European project funded by the Programme Erasmus+ and coordinated by the German partner DVV e.V., Deutscher Volkshochschulverband (German Adult Education Association).

The project is implemented by a consortium of six partners from five European countries: Germany, Italy, Greece, France and Austria.

The aim is to develop an approach to measure the effectiveness of the educational offers that have been put in place to ease immigrants’ pathways to integration into the labour market and society in general, on the one hand, and to assess their impact on the individual integration competences of the immigrants, on the other hand.

Hence the project is focusing on the validation of integration competences and VIC is about to develop a validation system for this purpose which is based on the LEVEL5 approach.

LEVEL5 is a unique system to validate competences and competence developments and to create learning environments and pathways in non-formal and informal learning contexts.

It is based on a three-dimensional model which maps the development of

  • Knowledge (cognitions)
  • Capabilities (skills & actions) and
  • Affective competences (emotions, attitudes and values)

along five quality levels in a specific learning field.

The LEVEL5 reference system serves as validation reference and also as planning device for informal learning activities, e.g. in integration actions. It has been applied in 150 micro-learning and validation projects since 2007.

Activities and interim results

In order to understand the scope of European Integration activities for refugees across Europe the VIC partners firstly carried out a survey on existing integration programmes in different European member states.

The results show that most of these programmes relate to linguistic and certain formal citizenship topics. In many cases, there is neither a description of the objectives of the integration programme nor a clear description of the aspired competences within these courses. Therefore, it is very difficult to derive a common definition of what “integration” actually means in each of the courses. Consequently, the aspired „integration competences“ depend to a large extent on the specific course contents and on the knowledge conveyed – but not explicitly on integration activities that lead to skills and development of values and attitudes.

As it turned out to be difficult to derive a common definition of integration competence from the survey results, the VIC consortium started its development programme with an explanatory approach of what integration means: “Integration” is not a one-way learning pathway for migrants and refugees but a process which is at least accompanied but also designed by the local (hosting) population. Hence integration is considered a two-way process, i.e. that not only refugees and migrants need to possess a number of competences to live in the host society. Also the local citizens  need certain competences to cope with challenges related to living in diverse societies.

As a matter of fact, “learning to live in a diverse society” is the principle that will guide the further development in the VIC project and which determines the “integration competences”.

Based on this, the VIC partners have identified a set of basic competences needed to live together peacefully in diverse societies. These are among others:

  • Networking
  • Communication
  • Intercultural competences
  • Flexibility
  • Collaboration for living and learning in a diverse society
  • Social engagement
  • Resilience
  • Willingness to learn
  • Critical thinking
  • Trust/reliability
  • Problem solving
  • Productive autonomy

For each of these sub-competences the VIC partners have developed reference systems to support learning and validation and will establish a catalogue of appropriate assessment methods based on these systems.

Next steps

In the following 18 months the consortium will establish a competence oriented learning and validation approach for integration competences based on the VIC competence framework (competences needed to live together peacefully in diverse societies).

This comprises an approach which does not only convey knowledge but also considers capabilities and attitudes as other competence dimensions in the learning offers. VIC aims to promote integration approaches that take on board the principles of constructive, activity related and practical learning.

The next step is to develop a pilot course for adult educators aimed to support them to plan, deliver and evaluate innovative integration learning activities and eventually to validate the integration competences developed in these learning offers.

The course for the professionals will be delivered in blended learning modality (F2F, e-learning and practice project) in autumn 2018 consisting of the following modules:

M1 – Introduction to the VIC approach

  • The context of integration, challenges and benefits
  • Current policy and approaches
  • Terms and definitions
  • Support refugees in their integration process and main challenges

M2 – Competence Oriented Learning and validation in VIC

  • Transversal competences and integration competences in adult education
  • Competence framework
  • Introduction to VIC validation system (LEVEL5)

M3 – Planning and delivering integration learning activities based on the VIC approach

  • Planning a competence oriented learning programme in the field of integration
  • Developing a practical learning project and/or practical learning activities

M4 – Delivering VIC integration actions

  • Implementing a practical learning project in an existing training programme
  • Delivering practical learning activities

M5 – Competence validation

  • The Validation process – based on the LEVEL5 approach
  • Appropriate Assessment methods
  • Documentation of competence developments

The e-learning modules will be accessible via the VIC Moodle platform that will be available in all partner languages + English.

The course will be tested in all partner countries in autumn 2018. Each partner will organise a workshop to inaugurate the piloting phase. In these workshops the e-learning platform and its functions will be introduced and the practical learning projects will be planned. Participants will then implement a concrete learning project in their existing training programmes and will apply their newly acquired knowledge. Competences of both trainers and learners will be validated by means of LEVEL5.

For further information: www.integrationcompetence.eu  

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