Ottobrunn – German lessons for refugees on the brink – Munich region

The war in Ukraine lasted only four weeks when the Adult Education Center (VHS) based in Ottobrunn was already offering German language courses to refugees. The existing courses were filled in a very non-bureaucratic manner and new courses for women and children were created. At the time, the facilitation jumped at the deep end because the financing had yet to be clarified. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf) is now promoting integration courses and initial orientation. However, according to Elizabeth Stein, Head of German as a Foreign and Second Language Department, these do not cover the need. In addition, there is currently almost no funding for any of the German language courses at VHS. “We are now dependent on donations, and our own money will soon be exhausted. Without donations, we will have to reduce our supply dramatically,” says Stein, who is also VHS vice president. She was hoping for non-bureaucratic solutions as in 2016, when the district office took over the costs of German language courses for refugees. But this time there is no obligation.

Contrary to what happened in 2016/2018, people who fled Ukraine and are entitled to a residence permit according to Article 24 of the Residence Act are entitled to take an integration course as soon as they obtain the fictitious certificate, i.e. proof that they have applied for the residence permit. This is funded by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Most refugees from Ukraine should be entitled to such a course. But Stein criticizes the lack of enough places. More than 120 people from Ukraine are now learning German at the Southeast Adult Education Center in Neubiberg, Ottobrunn and Hohenkirchen. The facility accepted another nine people into integration courses long before there was a possibility of a certificate of eligibility. Few people have obtained certification now. Others, however, do not yet have a so-called fantasy certificate and many are still waiting for a certificate of eligibility for the integration course. And the demand for German language courses does not stop. There are already 70 other people on the waiting list. In addition, containers for about 400 people will be built in Neubiberg. “Even if everyone here got a certificate for integration courses, it would not be possible for any adult education center to start many integration courses in time,” Stein says.

Integration courses are not tailored to people’s needs

Like the integration courses, she also believes that the initial orientation courses, which people who have fled Ukraine can attend and which are also funded by Bamf, are not suitable for the needs. She criticizes that integration courses of up to 700 educational units are not suitable for people whose permanent place of residence is unknown. Initial orientation courses, in which participants learn German and local values, do not “fit the needs of professionally qualified Ukrainian women, who also share our values”. Despite all the commitments, the Adult Education Center has yet to receive virtually any funding for any of its courses. The Adult Education Center recently got Bamf approval that they can start on only two out of every four such courses.

Hoping for non-bureaucratic support as in 2016/2018, the Adult Education Center asked the district office about funding for free German language courses. But the authority refused, stating that federal funding for integration courses takes precedence, Stein says.

The county office does not want to intervene with financial support this time

The district office says the situation is different from 2016 to 2018. “Funding was not possible at the time the asylum application was submitted to Bamf, so it was a much longer period of time before the funding application was submitted in order to provide a place for the integration course,” the district office says. , the majority of refugees still fell into the “group entitled to an integration course”, as is the case with Ukrainian refugees now.Because at that time many of those seeking protection did not have access to training courses funded by Bamf or government agencies Others, and thus were significantly deprived compared to other refugees, the province at that time decided to compensate for this deprivation with the funds of the region.

Without exception, this group of people was in the asylum process and therefore was excluded from many of the services available to refugees with fake testimony, such as people from Ukraine. In addition, according to Herr, the district is now providing its own funds to support refugees who do not have direct access to Bamf-funded integration courses. These can be refugees from Ukraine, for example, who are not entitled to a residence permit and are not entitled to a supported integration course in the asylum process. According to their estimates, this affects a maximum of five percent of those who have fled Ukraine.

Stein understands the logic of the district office. However, she wished for uncomplicated support again. And she doesn’t regret that the adult education center started in March without funding. “By reacting quickly, we have also supported many German families here,” she says. The adult education center now hopes to get more commitments from Bamf and donations so that the German language courses can continue to the extent necessary.

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