In the classroom with Kerpen

Integrationworkshop, Kerpen

Integrationworkshop, Kerpen

With over 80 virtual attendees from around the world, the latest webinar delivered by Cites of Migration on June 9th was a great success!

The main presentation was given by Claudia Walther,project manager of integration and education at Bertelsmann Stiftung, our partner organization in Germany. Ms. Walther spoke about the organization’s integration workshops, which are designed for cities and municipalities.

To assist with the development of such workshops, the organization checked the pulse of the nation on issues related to the integration of newcomers to Germany.

Claudia noted that over the past few years, the debate in Germany has come to the conclusion that the issue of integration cannot be treated as an isolated matter, which only concerns the newcomer. Instead, it must be addressed in a manner that takes all stakeholders into account, and on the policy front, is multi-departmental in scope:  “It became more and more clear how important it is to develop strategies and activities together with migrants, not for migrants.”

To help cities develop their capacity to work out sustainable integration strategies, Bertelsmann established a ‘Integration Workshop” program that brings together an inclusive cross-section of city stakeholders for an intense 2-day session with experienced trainers.

Perhaps it was only ‘two’ days in the classroom –what we know from Annette Seiche of Kerpen, and feedback from Claudia, is that the workshops only go forward after a commitment to participate from a senior level of local government –the equivalent of a mayor or deputy mayor– and that this informal integration working group becomes the brains and engine driving the integration strategy forward long after the workshop is over.  In Kerpen, three months of post-workshop collaboration resulted in the November 2008 delivery of an action plan!

The workshops have received some high-level support from public officials. For example, the federal minister of integration in the district of North Rhine-Westphalia, Mr. Armin Laschet, played a key role in ensuring that cities within his jurisdiction could obtain 80 percent financial support by his ministry, which also deals with intergenerational affairs, family and women.

Currently, the “Bundesland Hessen” (federal state) has identified 5 “model-regions” for evaluating how effectively the the integration workshops deliver against their objectives. Using an  external evaluator, they intend to look at the whole workshop continuum -from preparatory meetings, workshop, post-workshop working group to integration strategy delivery and implementation–to measure impact and outcomes after 1 year, after 3 years, etc.

Have a look at our profile of the Integration Workshop programin Kerpen Germany –another Good Idea from Cities of Migration.