REvive Greece is capable of providing an effective solution to the challenge of prototyping a social lab for immigrant and refugee integration in Munich. It will aim to help young people from the most vulnerable groups (i.e., migrants, refugees, and long-term unemployed) integrate into the socioeconomic fabric, by re-skilling them on computer programming through blended learning, and make them competent for the digital era. Then we will connect them with companies from the ICT sector for job placement as junior software developers, where the demand for skilled people is far greater than the supply. Our track record proves that we have the know-how and the experience to carry out this task.
The two steps of this solution have been tested and deployed in refuges and migrants who live in Greece:
1. Initially, courses were delivered only through our e-Learning platform (http://mntmegration.org) where students follow the curriculum from the smartphones they already have, which we convert them to micro-computers, with the use of some essential equipment we provide for free. The curriculum we use is drawn from well-established asynchronous MOOCs, which we combine with real-time mentoring from distant volunteers via web chat (demo: https://goo.gl/TR1WFs). Due to this real-time interaction, we have achieved higher engagement compared to the ones reported from those MOOCs (20% vs 5%). So far 82 students in total have enrolled in the e-learning platform, and out of them, 16 have completed the courses.
2. Following the e-learning platform, we launched our physical coding school (the “Code Camp”) which operates complementarily tο the platform and combines in-person (from our professional trainers) with distant training (from volunteers all over the world).
Information about the programme
• Number of students per cohort: 20
• Duration: 14 weeks
• Number of teaching hours: 168
• Language: English
• Cost for the participants: None
Regarding the “competition” issue, there are a few similar non-profit European initiatives which teach refugees locally, but we don’t perceive them as competitors at all. On the contrary, we are constantly looking to create international partnerships and share best practices with them for the addressing of this issue. And being located in Greece give us an “unfair advantage”: Since Greece is the entry point to Europe for many refugees (especially for those from the Middle East who have a higher education), it is the perfect location for the newcomers to start learning this highly valued skill, while waiting for their asylum approval from the receiving European countries, and when their asylum is approved from a country to forward them to the respective coding school. Hence Greece can become a European point of reference for talent acquisition.
From the implementation of these 2 steps of our project, so far, we have identified that our main weakness and challenge remains to retain as many as possible from the students who enrol, and to decrease the drop-out rate from the training program (currently 60%).
On the other hand, the primary strengths we have are:
1. Our know-how on the field of e-Learning (regarding the e-Learning platform, our strategic partner is WIDE Services, the official Moodle partner in Greece and Cyprus, and the leading player in e-Learning implementation projects in the country – their clientele demonstrates that clearly).
2. The support we have in this endeavour (both technical and financial) from Google.
An additional -but very crucial- strength we have in Greece is the collaboration with some of the most established and efficient NGOs which operate in the country, and more specifically:
• ActionAid Hellas
• Médecins Sans Frontières
• AstroLab Athens
These NGOs trusted us and our ability to train their beneficiaries and help us significantly in the identification process of those who have the right profile, and most importantly, can demonstrate an increased motivation to study hard in order to finish the programme. The selection process of the beneficiaries is certainly the most important element in this procedure, and for that purpose a double screening is conducted, initially from these collaborating NGOs according to our instructions, and then by REvive Greece.
We strongly suggest that a similar approach must be kept in the case of REvive Munich.
In conclusion, we strongly believe that this founding team of 6 passionate professionals who combine knowledge, experience and skills from different academic and business backgrounds, together with the Hans Sauer Foundation, can build an exemplary social lab for integration.