All senses should be used for learning.
Christine Blaser is a trained teacher and, as a vocational training specialist at KoKoTé, is responsible for the school education (catch-up training) of refugees.
How did you come to JLT Company/KoKoTé?
KoKoTé founder Franz Huber and I already knew each other from my work for the vocational and further education centre in the bridge programme in Uri. Even then we saw that there was a need for vocational training for adult refugees. I had been working in this field for a long time before and was able to gain a lot of experience as a teacher in literacy training for German-speaking adults. By chance, Franz and I met again and he was then able to convince me right away of his idea of the JLT Company/KoKoTé.
How are the refugees trained at JLT Company/KoKoTé?
The refugees come to my school one day a week. Recently we have divided this into two half days, because most of them are not used to working with their heads. They all prefer to work with their hands, so learning works better in the workshop than in school. The main thing at school is to learn German and reach a certain level so that they can continue their vocational training after their internship, intermediate year or pre-apprenticeship. Many refugees do not understand Swiss German and therefore remain among themselves where they only speak their mother tongue. With us, they get the opportunity to speak and learn written language. But very often we also discuss questions about everyday life in Switzerland: What does it mean to live in Switzerland? What are rights and duties? How does the separation of church and state work? How do I dispose of waste properly? Why is it important to keep to an agreed time? In this way, we can help them integrate into everyday life in Switzerland.
What does a school day look like for you?
We are all in one room and wear masks at the moment. I'm glad we can keep the school running on site. We don't do a lot of exercises together because everyone is at a different level and is not used to teamwork in learning. But after the holidays, for example, I ask questions so we can exchange ideas. The difficulties are the same for most of them: O, A, E and I are difficult. The ear is trained differently. Most of the refugees come from the Arab world and have completely different and often more letters than we do and, when they have learned to write, it is from right to left. They are also used to learning by heart rather than applying what they have learned. This is one of the biggest challenges. We have good teaching materials and apps with exercises that they can do on their own. I support them where necessary. For me, it is especially important that all senses are used for learning. Hearing, touching, seeing, writing. That way they also find out how they learn best.
What special challenges do you face when working with adults from other cultures?
The biggest challenges are already cultural. They know "learning" differently, they have to adapt to our system. There are also many misunderstandings. But they are often funny. Someone once didn't understand why I live alone as a mother. In his culture, no one lives alone, especially not a woman. You are always very closely integrated into the family. He also didn't understand that I WANT to live alone. Besides, they only accept my authority because I am an older woman. A younger woman could probably not run the school because she would not be accepted by the Muslim men. Other challenges I already knew from many years of experience in adult education. Adults generally learn more slowly, it takes a lot of time and patience. And flexibility. Sometimes I come with a basket full of prepared things and then a question comes and we spend the whole half day at school on it.
What are you most proud of in your work for KoKoTé so far?
Ali's success (Ali Ghorbani completed the best LAP of his Swiss class, even 20Minuten reported about it on the front page)! I accompanied and supported him closely from the beginning. He was very ambitious, otherwise he wouldn't have come so far. It is very important to us that the refugees and learners come of their own accord, are motivated and get what they need. Not that they sit back and wait until we take over everything for them. This is how great successes are possible, like Ali's.
Adults generally learn more slowly,
Christine Blaser - Vocational Training Specialist Association Equilibre
Refugees are trained at KoKoTé,
The main focus of the education days is on learning German and mathematics. Since learning and practising the German language is central, each refugee receives a mentor during the internship, an intermediate year or the pre-apprenticeship.
At KoKoTé, refugees receive 2 days of education and self-learning per week. Of these, 2 half-days are lessons in German, mathematics and general education, taught by the vocational training specialist Christine Blaser; 1 half-day involves self-learning under professional guidance with "Rosetta Stone". Their mentor accompanies them with homework. In addition, there is at least 1 hour a day of learning German while working. To ensure that everyone understands each other, the language used is German.
The central goal of KoKoTé is,
To achieve this goal, catch-up education is planned and realised and knowledge and experience in the world of work are gained. Furthermore, the achievement of the goals requires that the refugees reach a certain language level (language test at the beginning/end of the internship).
This is important in order to obtain a follow-up solution after the basic internship in the form of an intermediate year, a pre-apprenticeship or an EFZ/EBA apprenticeship. The follow-up measures - intermediate year and pre-apprenticeship - are possible in combination with part-time employment as a seamstress or seamstress. This gives the older refugees the chance to catch up on their schooling over 2-3 years and become fit for vocational training.