VHS im Lkrs. Cham is a registered, non-profit association in the Upper Palatinate; it acts on a regional level. The total number of fulltime administrative, teaching and training employees is 70, about 300 freelancers are working for the organisation. VHS Cham provides courses in the field of society, vocation, languages, health, culture and special courses (second chance schools).
VHS Cham has a long-term experience in course development with specific focus on languages (approx. 1,200 participants yearly, among them more than 700 participants of German courses) and is experienced in organizing language courses for specific groups: young learners, among them young dropouts, young adults, adults, seniors, migrants, and people from rural areas. One of the largest groups of language learners are migrants/non-native speakers.
It is now the only provider of integration courses on a district level – VHS Cham provides currently a number of courses supported by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF): integration courses, integration courses with literacy training, courses for people learning an additional (Latin) alphabet, vocational German language courses. An important part of those courses is the naturalisation test preparation for migrant learners. Integration courses are based on a quality management process developed together with Bavarian Adult Education Association and provided according to the Common European Framework of Reference, CEFR (https://rm.coe.int/cefr-companion-volume-with-new-descriptors-2018/1680787989) and the rules of integration courses in Germany. Other activities for migrants and asylum seekers are: literacy courses, language and professional courses for juveniles and coaching activities, placement counselling.
As a key integration courses provider, VHS Cham possesses actual and up-to-date information about the needs of its target groups in terms of integration as well as basic skills acquisition. At the same time, VHS Cham enjoys close connections with local and regional authorities, enterprises and institutions. It works in close cooperation with e.g. Job Center that supports its target groups in terms of literacy and integration courses, and renders assistance in employment; Network “Integrationsforum” that unites more than 30 members (local authorities, district court, police, probation officers, educational organizations in the Upper Palatinate region) working in the field of integration of migrants and refugees, etc. VHS Cham also supervises the work of the so-called Job Counsellors who serve as mediators between integration courses graduates and employers – establishing labour market contacts and assisting in job search.
Best practices and methodologies
Extensive experience in provision and delivery of educational services for migrants and refugees, and membership in local, regional and European networks enable VHS Cham to pilot or implement developed or transferred innovative education methodology, and share the results with other stakeholders involved in integration work. The integration courses as well as other courses are based on curricula developed by the Ministry Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The curricula encompass the relevant topics and scope of the content, key textbooks and materials used in courses are approved by the Federal Office. Supplementary teaching materials that support the learning process may also be used. In case of supplementary teaching materials, the VHS im Lkrs Cham uses the didactic materials including online resources developed together with other centres, organizations all over Europe within e.g. Erasmus + programme:
- IN-Life, KA2 Erasmus + https://in-life.eu/
- Languages in Media, LLP KA2 Languages https://lms.languages-in-media.eu/
- L-PACK, LLP KA2 Languages http://www.l-pack.eu/?lang=de
- Ich will Deutsch lernen https://www.iwdl.de/
The methods used during the courses are based on the principles of adult education, like use of teaching forms suitable for adults, participation in the educational process; participant orientation, learners’ centered process of teaching.