Reaching out to refugees

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IMPLEMENTING OUTREACH, EMPOWERMENT, DIVERSITY. On February 26th 2018 a workshop was organised for teachers of VHS Vienna who are working in the context of a big project called „integration from day one“ funded by the city of Vienna and the ESF which is addressing all refugees who are currently supported by the City’s refugee funds.

In this context reaching out means reaching out to individuals in a course context rather than reaching out to people outside the course context.

The workshop was a blend of reflection and a debate on the OED guidelines and the methods described therein. The participants agreed that the OED “methods” are extremely suitable for the groups of refugees as empowerment seems to be the overruling demand for these people.

Especially the thematic area of what is called “critical participation” in the course curriculum provides an opportunity to debate differences and similarities on eye – level with newcomers to Austria. The approaches advocated in the OED guidelines were felt as extremely useful, although it was also debated that the legal status of refugees and their insecurity plays a major role in the learning process.

The section of one of the posters produced at the workshop shows the complexity of the leaners’ situation. Their different backgrounds as regards education, multilingualism, the experience with learning and foremost the private situation as far as the family the legal status and the result of the asylum-seeking process are concerned play important roles and there was general agreement that there is no alternative to an outreach based approach to teaching and learning that has acceptance of the learners and their empowerment as the main emphasis.

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