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EPALE

Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe

 
 

Discussion

Migrant Education Week Day 2: What are the obstacles for migrants to access and complete adult education programmes?

27/04/2016
by EPALE Moderator

**This discussion is now closed. We'll be opening again tomorrow morning to discuss solutions the challenges highlighted today. Find tomorrow's discussion in the link below.**

The current migration crisis has emphasised the vital role of adult education in supporting the integration and skills development of migrants across the European Union.

In our three-day discussion, we’ll be talking about:

In this thread we’ll be talking about barriers. What have you found to be the biggest challenges for adult migrants accessing education, and are they different for newly arrived migrants and established migrant communities? We want to hear about what you think the most significant barriers are, from both a learner and an education provider perspective.

You can also follow live highlights of the discussion on Twitter and Facebook! Look out for updates via #epale2016.

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EPALE Moderator's picture

Thank you for your comments today. We're closing this discussion now but we'll be continuing tomorrow when we'll be talking about the solutions to these issues.

We'll also be launching our Community of Practice on migrant education soon. If you're an expert in migrant education and are interested in moderating this area of EPALE, get in touch with us by emailing Helpdesk@epale-support.eu.

See you all tomorrow for the final day of the EPALE Migrant Education Week discussion!

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Andrew McCoshan's picture


Great inputs to the list, everyone, here is an update… (This is mainly about obstacles faced by migrants, rather than barriers related to service provision)

 

  1. Ability to speak the host country language (specific to migrant education, though if we add literacy, then also applicable to general adult education).
  2. Digital skills to access online learning (also applicable to general adult education)
  3. Community/sense of belonging/social networks (probably, though not always, more of a barrier to newly arrived migrants)
  4. Time to participate in learning (also applicable to general adult education)
  5. Legal status/right to residence, e.g. as refugees, asylum seekers (specific to migrant education)
  6. Health - physical and psychological (also applicable to general adult education, but often a greater barrier for migrants – particularly psychological barriers for those fleeing trauma)
  7. Safe and fun opportunities/spaces/environments to try out new skills (also applicable to general adult education)
  8. Lack of access to the planning of learning (also applicable to general adult education – though some countries are much better at this, with active adult learning associations and a more democratic approach to the allocation of funding/focus of learning)
  9. No recognition of existing qualifications (specific to migrant education for qualifications obtained outside the host country; but also an issue for general adult education if we have a wide definition of ‘recognition’ in the labour market meaning value attached to qualifications by employers) or skills (also applicable to general adult education)
  10. Lack of information/awareness of relevant adult learning programmes (also applicable to general adult education)
  11. Lack of confidence to undertake training in the country migrants have moved to (lack of confidence, particularly among those who have had poor prior educational experiences is certainly also applicable to general adult education)
  12. Administrative barriers - i.e. navigating complex bureaucratic systems, completion of detailed registration forms (also applicable to general adult education, but with the added barrier for migrants of navigating in an unfamiliar cultural and linguistic environment)
  13. Lack of financial resources (also applicable to general adult education)
  14. Negative/discriminatory experiences deterring migrants from undertaking training (specific to migrant education)
  15. A lack of knowledge of what State support is available - particularly in those Member States where there is a separation of responsibility for supporting migrants (also applicable to general adult education to a certain extent, with many countries, and the EC, having moved adult education out of education ministries, meaning a narrow view of adult education as human capital development, and other forms of learning, related to cultural and social capital, being supported, if at all, elsewhere).
  16. Institutionalised exclusion/discrimination (mainly applicable to migrant education, but social exclusion also relevant in general adult education)
  17. Caring responsibilities (also applicable to general adult education)
  18. Perceptions (negative) of schooling based on past (home country) experiences (also applicable to general adult education)

 

 

Marcelle Bugre's picture

Dear participants, thank you for your precious insights and for sharing your knowledge and expetise with us today. I am going to refer back to the list of challenges gathered by Andrew and continued by Aaron as they refer to all our points:

  1. Ability to speak the host country language (of course!)
  2. Digital skills to access online learning
  3. Community/sense of belonging/social networks
  4. Time to participate in learning
  5. Legal status/right to residence, e.g. as refugees, asylum seekers
  6. Health - physical and psychological
  7. Safe and fun opportunities/spaces/environments to try out new skills
  8. Lack of access to the planning of learning
  9. No recognition of existing qualification
  10. Lack of information/awareness of relevant adult learning programmes
  11.  Lack of confidence to undertake training in the country migrants have moved to
  12. Administrative barriers -  i.e. navigating complex bureaucratic systems, completion of detailed registration forms

  13. A Lack of financial resources

  14. A Negative/discriminatory experiences deterring migrants from undertaking training

  15. A lack of knowledge of what State support is available - particularly in those Member States where there is a separation of responsibility for supporting migrants (i.e. justice and home affairs, education, employment).

 

I would also personally add that global and bilateral dialogue is a challenge that needs to be considered, because dialogue between nations, continents and regions builds global cohesion and this can be a good incentive for social cohesion. However difficult these challenges, we do have many role models we can look up to, including colleagues all over the world who are doing very good work. Let us improve the world together. Thank you all!

Marcelle

 

Roberto Kohlstedt's picture

I almost forgot one more obstacle Migrants are facing: Their own habits and perception of a school system :)

My wife told me last week, she had several refugees coming to her regarding future language trainings and when she asked them for their vouchers issued by the Employment Agency (worth 600 hours of training and thus several Thousands of Euros) they had it somewhere between 14 other sheet of paper, with breakfast markings and so on... They didn´t realize that this is a very important, "one time only"-issued permit for these Integration Trainings and deal with it in a very careless way. The same goes sometimes for other important documents handed out to them in the refugee shelters.

I am not generalizing this issue (there were equally much who had everything in perfect order and were very kean to start and get to University for instance) nor neglecting the probable majority of Migrants who realize the value of learning, but some of them certainly need some general help and a lot of explanation on how and why a school system in Europe works...

Same goes for the project ABuD which I mentioned yesterday: For 2 of my participants it was unimaginable that in Germany they DO need a proper VET training for at least 3 years in order to be a, as they called it, "simple plumber"... It hurts me always crushing dreams of a quick employment, but fact is, other than the US where you might just try yourself in certain jobs and then stick with them if it works out, in Germany everything is very regulated (as you would expect :D) and this makes it very hard to start working right away. And with all those papers gone missing in war zones (on top of any questions regarding equivalency), it is hard to assess their knowledge. In order to integrate them into a VET system though, we´re back at square one with the need for language training.

Stephanie Mitchell's picture

Yes, Roberto! Our own habits, perceptions and experience of what 'school' can mean in practice can often represent a huge 'invisible barrier' - as well as a lifetime's work to overcome!

Marcelle Bugre's picture

I was hearing from an Austrain organisation that their way of dealing with qualifications recognition  in vocational work is to do an assessment and provide feedback on the courses one needs to do to obtain a recognised qualification. In Malta working is easier than taking up education and learning. First because anyone can work as long as they get a work permit (non EU migrants need employers who are ready to advertise and employ them if there are no national or EU workers for the job).

Many of course work precariously without work permits, but these are not simply refugees. Secondly, there are a lot of challenges tied with both the worldview of certain groups of migrants, and their own development backgrounds. Some people may be highly unaware of important, formal matters. Others are simply out of touch with certain issues.

A migrant friend of mine for example was recounting how in his community he was noticing how people who have fled the war were showing no concern for others. He noticed that they didn't help the community, they were very unemotional about the problems of others, and they showed lack of concern for what was physically happening in front of them. However this is just one particular community. In another community I myself have experienced the situation where I want to connect a migrant to their community and they refuse, owing to such a high level of distrust and fear. In other communities however solidarity is so strong, that people sometimes feel more supported than some local persons.

In any case, what we can look for is a way to address issues that increase vulnerability and decrease resilience - and how our programmes address these important factors.

Marcelle Bugre's picture

What about the use of CEFR? (Common European Framework for Languages) 

Roberto Kohlstedt's picture

Another problem Germany is currently facing is the lack of professional and highly qualified language teachers who are able to provide language skills not only on communicative level but profound language knowledge which is vital for getting into a vocational educational training, studying at a German university or pursuing a professionnal career in case of qualified specialists coming to Germany. In Germany, you need to provide a graded language certificate (at least at the B1 level of language proficiency) for getting into a vocational education,  a B2/C1 certificate (depending on the subject) for going to the university, and you definitely need language proficiency at the level C1 and higher for working in a German company/institution/hospital, etc.

Unfortunately, the quality of language classes offered by educational insitutions has started falling recently, as shown by the students' evaluation of teachers as well as by the results of official graded tests after completing each language proficiency level (A1-B1). This problem has arised since insitutions are “forced” to open up more and more classes for providing the so-called integration courses for migrants (A1-B1) and start neglecting the quality control of the hired teachers.