The Refugee Teachers Program - a qualification and counseling program for refugee teachers

Das Refugee Teachers Program
Photo: Karla Fritze

Conception
Since April 2016, the University of Potsdam has been offering an academic qualification to experienced teachers with a refugee background, which aims at those teachers  returning to work at school. With the help of diverse educational offers in the areas of vocational language education, school pedagogy, migration pedagogy, school practice and school didactics within the framework of the program, the participants can increase their language skills to level C1; get to know the teaching, school and culture of the teaching profession in Germany and deepen their professional and educational knowledge. The qualification is based on a specially developed concept, which is based on selected contents of the basic teacher training.

In addition to the qualification offers, the target group benefits from individual advice for professional orientation and long-term support in the implementation of the necessary qualification steps on the way to full recognition as a teacher and establishment at the school. The qualification is flanked by networking and support offers for graduates of the program who already work at schools.

With the qualification project, the University of Potsdam supports the post-qualification of refugee teachers and  makes a significant contribution to integrating the target group into the labor market and society. Highly qualified and experienced teachers with a refugee background are perceived as service providers whose potential the Brandenburg school landscape (also) cannot do without in view of the lack of teachers. In addition, the Refugee Teachers Program would like to address a group of people in addressing teachers with a refugee biography , who have been  so far significantly underrepresented in schools in Brandenburg. The Refugee Teachers Program has been funded from the start by the Brandenburg Ministry of Science, Research and Culture and was also supported by the German Academic Exchange Service.

Since the beginning of the program, around 90 refugee teachers have successfully completed this qualification at the University of Potsdam and are now working as assistant teachers or teaching assistants at state schools in the State of Brandenburg. In April 2019, the last group of 23 refugee teachers was admitted to the program. Twelve teachers are currently participating in the program and will complete it in early September 2020.

Current developments
After almost four years of project phase (04/2016 - 02/2020) it was time to take stock; to formulate the most important effects and findings from the project and to identify existing barriers to access  the teaching profession for teachers with foreign qualifications. Therefore, the project team has been working intensively on revising and updating the previous concept since 02/2020. Ideas for the further development of qualifications are being specified, new innovative potentials are being developed in order to work out a comprehensive, sustainable overall concept. With this common aim, the project team works closely with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in the State of Brandenburg and other experts.