By Tamar Bot
— AUC management and the AUC student group Right to Education have agreed to continue offering language classes to refugee students. After the first success of integrating refugee students into AUC’s student life during the intensive period, they will also be able to take Dutch classes over the course of the regular semester starting February 1st.
Since the beginning of January, 33 refugee students have been taking Dutch A1 classes taught by AUC teachers and students. Starting February, 20 new refugee students will be following the same course material over the course of eight weeks, instead of four. Classes will take place twice a week and will be three hours long, taught by six AUC students.
Last Saturday, Right to Education organized an informative application session to select new refugee students. “We got a list from the municipality, as they are in direct contact with the refugee centres,” said Andrea Haefner, board member of Right to Education. Students on this list had to take a B2 English test and write a short motivation essay, of which the results will be used to select the most appropriate students.
This selection process did not take place last time, because the municipality gave out a list with as many names as there were spots. This time, even though there will be a selection process, the group of applicants is still rather small, as the municipality and the refugee centres do not want to give out too many names beforehand. “They don’t want to invite refugees and then disappoint them,” Haefner said.
To bring more diversity to the group of incoming students, there are an additional ten applications from the refugee action collective We Are Here. They were contacted directly by Right to Education, Haefner explained. According to her, the students recruited from We Are Here are from various countries in Africa. The students coming from the temporary refugee centres have been in the Netherlands for about three months, which is why almost all of them are from Syria. Most of them are male too; therefore, Right to Education is also trying to make sure the new group will include more female students.
It is likely that the programme will continue after the first eight weeks. At the end of March, students who have passed the Dutch A1 course, either in January or in February and March, will most probably be able to take Dutch A2 in April and May. Students involved with Right to Education are working on finalizing this idea and designing the syllabus for the course.
Right to Education gets all their funding from local businesses and their crowdfunding page. There is not yet any additional budget for the new students. “We will reuse the Dutch A1 books, but need to buy new online codes, which cost 20 euros per student,” said Haefner. Right to Education is currently looking for a treasurer and head of acquisitions to organize funding and to look for long term sponsors. No agreement has been made concerning funding by AUC.
The setup and organization of the classes during the coming semester will, again, be led by students. There will be a continuation of the buddy system and student volunteers will be offering homework assistance.
AUC management and administration are still exploring whether it will be possible to fully enroll refugee students from September onwards. However, Haefner said, “There are still a lot of questions concerning legal issues and full sponsoring.”