Integration can only work through language and social contacts. With children, the key is school. This is where the EN circle can help.
School-age children who come to Ennepe-Ruhr district from Ukraine or other countries are helped by the Municipal Integration Center (KI) and the district school supervisory authority to find a suitable school. In the past three months alone, 309 counseling sessions on school placement have been held. 168 children have already been placed, 140 of whom are from Ukraine.
As teachers at KI, Birgit Antonius and Sara Khamsitthy have the task of advising newly immigrated children and young people and finding them a place in school. Your work begins with a name, a date of birth and a home address. “City governments use this data to report girls and boys who have moved here,” Khamsitthy explains. The AI then contacts the families, usually by letter in German and Ukrainian or in their respective national language. “Only after this written request should the family take action and contact us so that we can arrange a consultation appointment,” says Khamsitthy.
the interpreters help
If you are unfamiliar with German or English, the KI will arrange a volunteer interpreter from its pool of language mediators for consultation. Currently two Ukrainian and six Russian-speaking are involved in the pool. The interviews are held by teleconference. “Among other things, we ask about the child’s previous school career, whether he is familiar with the Latin alphabet and whether he has special needs,” Khamsitthy said.
In elementary schools, teaching follows the assumption “short legs, short distances”, so children should, if possible, attend the nearest elementary school. In the case of secondary schools, the other criteria are at the fore. Thanks to the school inspectorate, AI employees know how great the admission capabilities of individual schools are. School council member Angela Partner is in close contact with schools and provides the KI with up-to-date listings.
At the same time, the family is informed about the school location and asked to register the child. “This is the easiest way for both families and schools,” says AI manager Lale Arslanbenzer with conviction. “Families have only one point of reference in us and do not have to contact different schools. And schools are spared a lot of work, including unnecessary work, such as double registrations ”.
At the moment, the two employees, with the support of two other teachers, are able to quickly process all consultations and mediations. There are no long waiting times for families. If this were to change due to the growing number of refugees, Arslanbenzer would provide the teachers with other colleagues. “Finding a place in school is a top priority. It is important for us to allow children to attend school as soon as possible “. The KI – in close cooperation with the city administration, the school supervisory board and the schools – was able to do this as early as 2015. In February, during the large influx of refugees, the KI took on the task of finding places school for children who had emigrated there. Within a year, the employees advised 1,152 families and made sure their children had a place in school.
And the task of AI does not end with mediation. “We support schools that welcome us with regular training and exchange opportunities for teachers and with promotional material for lateral participants,” says Arlanbenzer. The KI also deals with support offers for children, such as the state’s “extra learning time”.
In 2016 the municipal integration center of the Ennepe-Ruhr district created the pool of lay language mediators. Volunteers who are fluent in another language besides German support discussions between people from an immigrant background and public institutions such as social welfare offices, the employment center and educational institutions. Currently around 80 language mediators are active in the pool and others are welcome. Above all, people who speak Ukrainian and Russian are required. The contact persons of the KI are Irina Schumach and Anna Teresonok, telephone: 02336/4448 183 and 02336/4448 181, e-mail: email@example.com.
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