It’s a win-win-situation: a home for 200 Syrian refugees, and a case study for Erasmus researchers. A Rotterdam-based charity rented out a house to refugees and paid for their intensive language classes. Furthermore, it will guide them in the process of finding a job and offer support with practical stuff. In the four years to come, Erasmus researchers are going to observe and research whether this approach leads to faster integration in Dutch society.
‘We scatter the families all over town and accommodate them in different neighbourhoods, surrounded by other people from Rotterdam’, says programme director Jaco Dagevos, Professor of Integration and Migration at Erasmus University to television programme EenVandaag. Dagevos is in charge of the research. ‘Will all these intensive efforts work to have refugees integrated faster, compared to refugees that aren’t involved in the programme?’
Work and education
The Syrians get accelerated language classes so that they can quickly start looking for work or an education. That’s one of the biggest challenges when it comes to the integration of refugees, while jobs and diplomas are of utmost importance to stimulate integration. ‘Refugees often don’t work, or hold jobs below their actual capacity,’ says Dagevos. ‘The things that impede success are lengthy periods of travel from the country of origin, long waiting periods in refugee centres, and traumatic experiences. And bad mental health hinders integration.’
The charity that participates in the programme, a foundation called De Verre Bergen, was established by a wealthy Rotterdam family. It invests in education and culture, but other than that keeps quiet about its activities.