African woman perspective on asylum in Germany Further education a lottery for refugees

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Thu 28th Nov, 2013

As migrants we all seek to be granted the permission to stay, but the challenges that follow on after being recognised are more than enormous. As soon as that recognition comes through, you feel freed to pursue life further. As it's a rule every recognised refugee is obliged to enrol in the integration course, usually lasting six months. Thereafter depending on one's future plans, starts the real hustle, from finding accommodation out of the asylum homes to furthering your studies.
When it comes to further education, as it's a law here, one needs to get their documents graded to match the educational system here. The procedure is a tedious one since some refugees may have fled their home countries without any of their educational certificates. This has left most of them in doubt of furthering their qualifications unless of cause they would have to start a new qualification all together. Some of them would have to rely on their previous universities/colleges to send the required certified educational certificates. However knowing most developing countries, it's usually taking long to get the required documents. Personally I decided, while I waited for my documents to be sent to the German educational authorities, to engage in higher levels of the language courses. After all the language of instruction at most universities here is German rather than English.
During my waiting period I got invited for a meeting by my employment agent to discuss my work possibilities here. The seemingly 50 something old man asked me what I intended to do with my future here in Germany. I told him it's my plan to further my studies by doing masters so that I can get better employment opportunity. He interjected, by asking me where I would get funding for my studies from. "You could help me, tell me how I can access funding for my studies" I responded. That statement seemed to have put him off. "First you are too old to study, and if you were in your country, would you study? And where would you get tuition funding from?" I was not moved by his angry reaction. I didn't care that I was of migrant background. At least I knew I had rights too. I expressed to him that, if I was back at home I would work and study at the sometime because in my country there is not much funding possibilities which is to the contrary here, and more so education has no age limit. "So if you would work to fund you studies in your country, why don't you do the same here, why would you have to look for funding elsewhere" he reacted. With confidence I told I was going to do my masters any way and that I was going to find funding from various organisations no matter what. "You people think the government will give you everything you need, the government also needs money, where will the government get money from? It's from you, and that's why you need to work". This was one bitter argument with my agent and since then I have been given another employment agent who is much more supportive with my educational goals.
With a similar experience, is a 35 year old Russian lady in my German Language class. She is lawyer by profession and wanted to work here in the same field but first she needed to further her education to fit into the law society here. Similarly, her employment agent told her she was too old to study and that her German would never be good enough for her to work as a lawyer in Germany. And so she needed to find employment and forget about studying. This lady was very frustrated and by the time we parted from the language course, she had not made up her mind on what she would do next. As for me I stuck to my goal of pursuing my studies further, and have since been admitted to a master class in Communications management with funding.
All in all, migrants and recognised asylum seekers face a lottery when applying for further education leaving many without the opportunity to gain the skills and qualifications they need to integrate into professional societies. Some institutions do not even recognise particular difficulties asylum seekers might face, such as being unfamiliar with the German education system, and problems providing proof of previous qualifications due to their immigration status.
Although there are sources of funding available for further education here, it is almost still impossible to access some of them unless one pursues further.
Further on, while some organisations are able to support refugees and migrants to access the education they are entitled to, other migrants are still unaware of their needs, rights and entitlements and so let themselves be discouraged by some work agents, yet further education is hugely important for refugees and asylum seekers so as to better contribute into the tax payers box. Although Refugees who have been granted permission to stay are eligible to study as German students so long as their previous academic qualifications have been graded to an educational level here, Many charities however, that previously supported migrants through university are now opting to instead support mostly home or students from other European countries. Leaving migrants from third world countries out of the education bracket.

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