Blanka Vosecká Veselá oversees the methodology and content of the adaptation-integration course, as well as training of the tutors. In this interview, she explains the origin of the course, what is its content and why it is important.
What does the adaptation-integration course include?
The adaptation-integration course, or as we call it the “welcoming” course, introduces participants to fundamental rights and obligations they have as foreigners arriving to the Czech Republic and residing in the country. The course is divided into several topic-based units. The most detailed and extensive one is dedicated to residence permits because, based on our experience, we know that this is the most worrying topic for foreign nationals. The course also includes other topics, such as employment, business, education, health care, housing, and everyday life.
Where was the course created and how long did it take?
The course Welcome to the Czech Republic has been organized by the non-profit organization Slovo 21 in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic since 2013. Until now, participation was voluntary and free of charge. We might say that it was a pilot phase and we tested what was the impression foreigners had from the course, whether they liked it and whether they considered the course useful. Over the time, the content of the course got adapted based on feedback from participants to make it as useful as possible. Our courses are currently unique in the Czech Republic. And from 1 of January 2021, these are the only official courses approved by the Ministry of the Interior and compliant with the obligation to take such a course as stipulated by law. The administration of the courses is a responsibility of the integration centres located within the country. The courses will take place at their premises. Still, we -Slovo 21 - will oversee the methodology of the course, i.e. its content and final form.
Where did you look for inspiration?
We definitely drew inspiration from western European countries that have vast experience with migration and integration of foreigners. Of course, we also took into consideration any feedback received from foreigners over the last years. Also, some employees of Slovo 21 are foreigners themselves, so their first-hand experience with starting their life in a new country has also been a huge source of inspiration and it has helped us to put the finishing touches to the course.
Who are the tutors? What is the language of the course?
Each course is taught in Czech and it is interpreted in one of the nine project languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Arabic and recently also Serbian). All tutors and interpreters have passeda demanding training provided by Slovo 21, and recently, they have also been required to pass and exam in front of a commission comprising of representatives of the Ministry of the Interion, integration centres, Slovo 21 and interpretation experts.
Where can I apply for the course and how much does it cost?
You can apply for the course only on the official website of the Ministry of the Interior where registration, payment and course selection take place. This is the website: https://frs.gov.cz/. The fee for the course is CZK 1,500 in case of a public course. In collaboration with integration centres, big companies can organize an official course for their employees at their premises. In such a case the price is lower – CZK 800.
What is the added value the course has when compared to information published on various websites?
We provide up-to-date and accurate information. Our tutors are trained and experienced, it is their job to be familiar with most recent changes, they can’t dare to say inaccurate or faulty information. At the same time, they need to be able to provide participants of the course with contact details of organisations providing free counselling, in case they need help with their individual issues. We always try to offer contacts to places where they can get high-quality and free help because we know that foreigners often pay exaggerated amounts of money for assistance which is of a poor quality in many cases. What also happens is that foreigners get information from their friends, but they forget that the law might have changed in the meantime, or that in their case, the situation might be different than in the case of their friends. That is why I believe that accurate and up-to-date information and contact details we provide are the biggest benefit of the adaptation-integration course, because in the end, foreigners can save much more money thanks to the information provided than what they have paid for the participation fee. It can also save them a lot of worries.
Many people have participated in the organization of the course Welcome to the Czech Republic in the past years and that is why we believe that you will enjoy the course and it will be beneficial for you.