07 SES 11 A, Inclusion of Newcomers and Refugees Part 4
Paper Session continued from 07 SES 09 A
Due to the ongoing crisis in Syria and other middle eastern countries the number of asylum seekers in the EU rose to around 1.3 million in both 2015 and 2016 (Statewatch: 1). Most of the refugees are part of a young population group and the educational potential is correspondingly large: many well educated men and women are hoping for new chances for their education and professional life (Brücker/Rother/Schupp 2016: 59). But refugees themselves often lack the necessary knowledge to find their way to university or the labour market in a targeted manner (Cardu 2007: 436). In many cases they struggle with various challenges and an overwhelming amount of information (Cardu 2007: 437ff). In addition not all can provide documents to prove their higher education entry level or their work experiences on account of the crisis they escaped. Confusion and a lack of self-confidence in conversations are often the result.
The states, universities, and companies in Germany are currently making efforts to open up the education and training system to refugees, nevertheless these efforts are only just beginning (Brücker/Rother/Schupp 2016: 59). For universities in Germany the Conference of Culture Ministers decided that refugees who are unable to present their proof of higher education entrance qualification for a basic or postgraduate course of study acquired in their home country can present this proof indirectly (KMK 2015). In this case a plausibility check of the educational biography can verify the acquisition of a higher education entrance qualification in the home country. While these official recommendations were already given in December 2015, universities are still struggling to find practical solutions for their new target group when it comes to higher education entry with missing proof. Until now, universities mainly focus on the students redoing their qualifying exam.
In addition to universities, employers are also struggeling with missing proof of qualifications. They often discount foreign qualifications in the labour market, especially if earned in countries with unstable political situation (Schuster/Desiderio/Urso 2013: 18). Paired with the confusion and low self-confidence of the refugees, it can lead to unsuccessful job interviews. A lack of linguistic expressiveness is hereby often equated with a lack of competence and thus refugees are regularly employed below their qualifications brought along (OECD 2012: 118; Seibert/Wapler 2012: 5).
To help reduce language and personal barriers the “Kompetenzbereich Anrechnung” of the University of Oldenburg started reconstructing the individual educational biography of qualified refugees through a portfolio process in October 2015. The portfolio has proven to offer a flexible and sustainable method of competence documentation (Bräuer 2002; Strauch/Jütten/Mania 2009). Especially in the case of biographies marked by forced migration, it happens that many stations were completed under special conditions and in different regional or national contexts. The processing and presentation of these biographies is therefore much more complex and requires special methods. The objective of the portfolio work with refugees is to process educational biographies and to make them understandable and useful within the German educational system. This paper argues, that by participating in the offer "Portfolios for Refugees" the awareness of competences can be increased and refugees can be empowered to make self-determined life choices in an unfamiliar environment. Competences are a dimension of (self-) awareness and recognizing one's own skills and perspectives is of invaluable importance for people with a background of refuge not only on their way to university or jobs but also on their way to successful integration into society (Langemeyer 2013: 19).
“Portfolios for refugees” are folders containing all relevant documents of the educational biography. On ten pages the portfolio describes qualifications brought along and classifies them into the spectrum of German vocational and educational qualifications. During the creation of the portfolio, three appointments of up to 90 minutes are held. Each portfolio process begins with the collection of data on the educational biography in order to obtain an overview and to identify initial indications of possible competences. The interview will afterwards turn to the different educational stations and possible learning experiences. As many aspects as possible of the training phases, activities and experiences are to be recorded and reflected upon. Gained Achievements can thus be recalled and linked to new challenges or to the current situation. In a third step, the respective information and competences are summarized and integrated into the German education system. In the portfolio method the observation and questioning of participants plays a major role (vgl. Lang-von Wins 2007; Maag Merki/Werner 2011). Because of the language barrier and the lack of the possibility of performance, the practical personal contribution recedes. The portfolio work is thus based on different individual observations in combination with in-depth discussions, whereby a combination of external and self-assessment ultimately leads to a recording and assessment of the different competences and potentials (Petersen/Schiersmann 2012). It should be noted, that any measurement of competence is only an assessment and approximation of generally applicable standards within a particular (subject) area or context (Petersen/Schiersmann 2012). In addition, the assessment of competences is primarily about a casuistic interpretation of behaviour: The concrete measurement of the competence development only takes place in those aspects of the educational biography that are very present and dominant within the conversation. The competences mentioned in the portfolio consequencely always represent only an excerpt of the overall competences and sometimes only potentials can be represented (Petersen/Schiersmann 2012). After three years of the portfolio work, an online-survey was conducted in October 2018 to evaluate the project. Around half of the former participants (N=40) took part in the survey, which focused on the satisfaction with the portfolios as well as their actual use. In order to achieve significant results, the survey was sent to all participants who received their portfolio at least three months ago and therefore already had the opportunity to use it.
By January 2019, more than 100 portfolios have been created, with participants mainly from the countries of origin Syria, Iraq and Iran. Most of them are academically educated: Almost 60% already have a first university degree and almost 20% started their university education, but couldn’t complete their studies due to the crises they’ve faced in their countries of origin. Out of the participants that started a degree corresponding to a German Bachelor's degree, almost 70% would like to continue their studies in Germany. This coincides with the results of other researchers who write that most refugees with prior educational experience would like to proceed their studies (Dryden-Peterson, Giles 2010: 4). Of all portfolio cases, a little over 20% cannot prove their qualification. The survey conducted in October 2018 leads to the result, that the refugees themselves evaluate the project positively: More than 60% of the participants said, that they have already used the portfolio. They used the portfolio mainly for counselling through employment agencies or universities, but also for job, intern and university applications. Almost 50% of the participants said, that the portfolio helped them to know their possibilities and competences. According to these outcomes, competence awareness can in fact be increased through the participation in the offer "Portfolios for refugees". Moreover, 20% said that they found work through the help of the portfolio and another 20% are able to start an apprenticeship.
Brücker, H./Rother, N./Schupp, J. (2016): IAB-BAMF-SOEP-Befragung von Geflüchteten: Überblick und erste Ergebnisse. Forschungsbericht, 29. Retrieved from http://doku.iab.de/forschungsbericht/2016/fb1416.pdf (20.01.2019). Cardu, H. (2007): Career nomadism and the building of a professional identity in female immigrants. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 8(4), 429–439. Dryden-Peterson, S. (2015): Refugee Education in Countries of First Asylum: Breaking Open the Black Box of Pre-Resettlement Experiences. Theory and Research in Education (December 21). Retrieved from http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:23989485 (20.01.2019). Dryden-Peterson, S./Giles, W. (2010): Introduction: Higher Education for Refugees. Refuge, 27(2), 3–9. Retrieved from https://refuge.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/refuge/article/view/34717/31547 (21.01.2019). Houghton, A./Morrice, L. (2008): Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants: Steps on the education and employment progression journey. http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/60506/1/__smbhome.uscs.susx.ac.uk_dm50_Desktop_Morrice-Refugees-education%20and%20employment%20steps.pdf (20.01.2019). Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK) (2015): Beschluss der Kultusministerkonferenz. Retrieved from http://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/Dateien/veroeffentlichungen_beschluesse/2015/2015_12_03-Hochschulzugang-ohne-Nachweis-der-Hochschulzugangsberechtigung.pdf (20.01.2019). Langemeyer, I. (2013): Grundzüge einer subjektwissenschaftlichen Kompetenzforschung. REPORT 1/2013 (36. Jg.). S. 15-24. Retrieved from https://www.die-bonn.de/doks/report/2013-erwachsenenbildungsforschung-01.pdf (20.01.2019). Lang-von Wins, T. (2007). Die Kompetenzhaltigkeit von Methoden moderner psychologischer Diagnostik-, Personalauswahl- und Arbeitsanalyseverfahren sowie aktueller Management-Diagnostik-Ansätze. In: Erpenbeck, J./ von Rosenstil, L. (Hrsg.)(2007): Handbuch Kompetenzmessung. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag. Maag Merki, K./ Werner, S. (2011): Erfassung und Bewertung professioneller Kompetenz von Lehrpersonen. In: Terhart, E./ Bennewitz, H./ Rothland, M. (2011): Handbuch der Forschung zum Lehrerberuf. Waxmann. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2012): Settling in: OECD indicators of immigrant integration 2012. Retrieved from https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/9789264171534-en.pdf?expires=1548085106&id=id&accname=ocid56027091b&checksum=5760943237BF4FF1BD6A53791446657E (21.01.2019). Petersen, C./Schiersmann, C. (2012): Methodische Ansätze zur Kompetenzerfassung in der Beratung. In: Newsletter 02/ September 2012, Hrsg. Nationales Forum Beratung in Bildung, Beruf und Beschäftigung nfb, Berlin 2012. Schuster,A./Desiderio, M. (2013): Overview of findings. In: Schuster, A./Desiderio, M./Urso, G. (Eds). Recognition of qualifications and competences of migrants. Retrieved from http://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/recognition_qualifications_competencesofmigrants.pdf (21.01.2019). Seibert, H./Wapler, R. (2012): Zuwanderung nach Deutschland: Aus dem Ausland kommen immer mehr Akademiker. (IAB-Kurzbericht, 21/2012), Nürnberg. Retrieved from http://doku.iab.de/kurzber/2012/kb2112.pdf (20.01.2019). Statewatch (2017): Asylum statistics. Statistics Explained. Retrieved from http://statewatch.org/news/2017/mar/eu-eurostat-2016-asylum-applications-statistics-explained-13-3-17.pdf (21.01.2019). Strauch, A./ Jütten, S./ Mania, E. (2009): Kompetenzerfassung in der Weiterbildung. Instrumente und Methoden situativ anwenden. Retrieved from https://www.die-bonn.de/doks/2009-professionalitaet-02.pdf (21.01.2019). Streitwieser, B./Brueck, L./Moody, R./Taylor, M. (2017): The Potential and Reality of New Refugees Entering German Higher Education: The Case of Berlin Institutions. European Education, 49: 231–252.
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