The crisis in Syria seems to be a never ending conflict. Since 2011 Syria has been victim to civil war, and in August 2015 the death toll of Syrian civilians reached 250,000. Showing no signs of stopping, many Syrians are finding it more and more difficult to progress in their current society. Thus spawns the movement of the Syrian refugees seeking asylum in neighboring countries. Luckily for the educators of Syria, there is one country who is welcoming them with open arms, and open classes.
Migrants that are fleeing all of the destruction and violence are also often fleeing the structure of their entire lives including their careers. Fortunately, there is one German university that is hoping to get Syrian asylum seekers back to work and help all child refugees in the process. Last month, The University of Potsdam began its Refugee Teachers Program. Potsdam trains asylum seeking refugees who worked as educators in their native countries to work in German schools, 100 percent free of charge.
Alaa Kassab, one of the recent student teacher refugees recently admitted to the program, had this to say of it, “I was very happy that there is a course specifically for refugees who are teachers --- that’s what I want.” The 23-year-old refugee taught English to children in Aleppo, Syria, and just moved to Germany last year. More than 700 people have applied for the teaching program at the University of Potsdam, which is located approximately 45 minutes outside of Berlin. For now the school was only able to accept 25 student teachers for the first term, but officials of the program are hopeful to bring on an additional 50 students by the end of the year.
The program is 11 months long, and begins with intensive German-language classes. After the initial six month of studying the language, the student teachers will then learn about the educational system in Germany and visit German local schools. The completion of the program is then documented with a certificate. Albeit, this is not the same credential as a native German teacher would need to receive in order to teach. But officials of the university note that there is a very high demand for educators who are better equipped to communicate with refugee children.
Andreas Musil, the vice president for teaching at the University of Potsdam said this of the refugee situation, “We realized that a lot of the refugees had a background in teaching, and refugee children have to go to German schools. We this is as a unique chance to use their cultural similarities and offer refugee children someone they can speak to.” This aspect is especially important for children who have had their lives uprooted and are now thrown into a foreign culture. The efforts on Germany’s behalf are laudable in the case of Syrian refugees. Not only taking them in, but also providing them with the tools to create a life of prosperity in their new country, their new home.