The Documentary Podcast
Germany's refugee teachers
Saturday, 4 April
Five years on from the refugee crisis of 2015, Germany is now home to over a million refugees. Naomi Scherbel-Ball explores a classroom experiment with a difference: a scheme to retrain refugee teachers and place them in German schools, to help the country with a shortage of 40,000 teachers.
Naomi visits a school in Mönchengladbach in Western Germany, where Mustafa Hammal teaches English. Mustafa, an English teacher with eight years of experience, fled the civil war in Syria with his family in 2015. Arriving in Germany, he discovered a teacher retraining programme designed to harness the skills that refugee teachers bring with them.
Miriam Vock, an educational psychologist at Potsdam University, transports us back to the summer of 2015. Amidst the chaos of the refugee crisis, she wondered if there might be some teachers among the refugees arriving in Germany. A year later, the first refugee teacher retraining course was launched - an idea that inspired a number of other pilot courses across Germany.
Retraining as a teacher in a system with rigid set qualifications is particularly challenging, however, and graduates are finding it difficult to find work. The success of the far-right Alternative for Germany, now the country’s main opposition party, has raised the stakes for refugees trying to integrate.
As Germany struggles with an ageing population and a severe labour shortage, Naomi asks if refugees can fill the gap.
This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global TV, radio, social and online networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – the documentaries and digital stories will cover a diverse range of topics, from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration.