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Austria: The Achievements of maiz in Developing and Implementing the Program

Including the first pilot phase of PreQual in 2006, maiz has realized a total of four PreQual courses (2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009) in Linz, Upper Austria, and two upcoming measures are already in the works. Originally developed as part of an EU project the first course was financed in part, and the following projects in full, by the health department of the province of Upper Austria.
Integrated into the prequalification measure's 648 course units are two one-week internships (each 40 hours a week), field trips and practical classes held in nursing schools and retirement homes. The daily class schedule for all of the PreQual measures has been from Monday to Friday in the mornings. Translating this number of units a time frame means that the duration of the courses in Austria was between 4 1/2 to 6 months.

Because maiz is self-organized, it is has strong connections to a wide range of possible participants from the target group. This provides an added value for the course participants, because taking a course at maiz gives them easy access to a wide range of low-threshold activities and services at maiz, including: legal, social and family counseling, participation in other educational programs and cultural projects at maiz, support and opportunities for networking and for exchanging experiences with experts with a migration background etc. In this way, maiz was able to amply meet the challenge of addressing and dealing with the complexity of issues concerning everyday life and work of migrant women.

Competence center for health and migration

While working on the project, all of the activities and contacts served to further expand the network and create a center of excellence in the fi eld of care and migration. This has enabled us to reach migrants who work in (or seek to enter) this fi eld of employment and provide them with a platform that functions as a support and exchange network. We also provide counseling for women interested in the career profi les, education opportunities and prerequisites for entering formal training programs in this area. Many of the women who expressed interest in working in this area were able to immediately enter a training program,
while others opted to take the PreQual course.

Further international experiences:


In 2007 in Germany, the PreQual pilot course took place at an accredited state vocational school with a program for elderly care. The European Association for Vocational and Social Education (EBG) implemented a pilot course with full-day classes over a period of four months.


The Italian organization Centro Servici Volontariato (CESV) adapted the concept to meet local needs. Their PreQual course consisted of several intensive course units, accompanied by modules working with the method of the FAD (formazione a distanza) as well as in close cooperation with the migrant women organization “Assoziatione delle Donne Brasiliane” (ADBI) These varying structural conditions were particularly valuable in the development of a curriculum to meet international standards. www.prequalonline.org



After severals preparatory activities for the implementation of the course measure and it's contents beginning in summer 2008, Antigone finally started the PreQual course in Greece (Thessaloniki) at the end of October 2008. The training courses took place three times per week and from the beginning they were attended by 16 migrant women from various countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The course that was implemented combined both theoretical educational sessions, as well as practical workshops on issues such as: Medical Terminology, Care Skills, First Aid Course, Personal Orientation within the Health and Social Care Sector, Language and Communication Skills, Information and Communication Technology, field trips to various health and care institutions, internship and others. A crucial point regarding course implementation was that there was a decision to combine theory and practice from the very beginning. We believed that by putting into practice each weekend what the participants had been taught in theory during week days, it would make them more interested in the field and would also make the subjects more comprehensive. The training courses were concluded in May with the participants' internships in a public hospital, a private medical clinic and an infants and young children day care centre.

It should be noted that the PreQual training course was carried out with all relevant stakeholders (participants, trainers, the Antigone working team) being really satisfied by its implementation.

Spain /Iepala:

The PreQual project is being carried out in Spain by IEPALA (Institute of Political Studies for Latin America and Africa). After several national preparatory workshops a stable group of 15 students was finally formed who regularly attended the PreQual course in Madrid. The participants were all from various mostly Spanish-speaking countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, etc. All of the women were adults with little training and some experience in caring for the elderly.

The course took place in the afternoons from Monday to Friday over a period of four months. There were three groups of teachers involved, each in charge of the three sections into which the course was divided. All of the teachers (10 in total) were overseen by a general training coordinator who made sure the curriculum was followed and implemented any changes that became necessary for the duration of the project. All of the teachers were also involved in the evaluation process.

Unlike other training courses organized by IEPALA, the PreQual course featured a self-esteem and personal development module. And, following the participants' requests, a module on gender issues whose objective was the analysis of our role as women within social, work and family contexts, and an ICT module were added.

Given the results, we believe that this component was essential to the course, as it encouraged the creation of a cohesive group of students who shared not only their interest in learning, but also their life experiences, much of which they had in common. The idea of dedicating part of the time to communicating their past migratory processes, their problems and current challenges in Spain, as well as their dreams for the future - whether in Spain or in their homeland-created a climate of trust and mutual support which was essential throughout the course. The women's confidence was further boosted by reusing knowledge they already had in relation to what was being studied.

Czech Republic /SOFIA:

The course that took place in the Czech Republic underscored the richness of the women participants' lives and professional experience. They were most interested in the subjects where they discovered completely new areas of knowledge, providing them with a great deal of space for interaction and exchange of perspectives. The "language barrier" was immensely popular issue; women in this unit were interested in the specifi cities of the Czech language in communication and were keen to learn what is "behind" certain phrases or words. All of them showed a great interest in a continuation of the course.

The experiences made through the internships and excursions showed that the migrant women are indeed self-confident when interacting with clients and able to make use of and adapt their existing social skills to new environments. It is likely that the fact that most of the women are from the former Soviet Union block also played a role in this easy adaptation.

Hungary /DemNet:

After due consideration, DemNet decided to take a different approach and targeted refugee women living at Bicske Reception Center, a refugee camp that is assigned to "integration". The people living there have confirmed status and are allowed to stay there for 1 year, while they can come up with solutions for their new lives. Here we announced the training and 8 women were interested, 6 of them attend the classes regularly. Their countries of origin: Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Vietnam and Georgia.

By turning to refugee women expressly, several presumptions and principles of the PreQual Steps project gained extreme relevance and eventually became the empowering tool for these women in their search for personal integrity and intercultural understanding of their new context. The course lasts from the middle of April until the middle of September (5 months, 16 hours per week, in sum 320 hours in class).