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MobileBE - Examples of good practice (IO-1) - Example DE07

KOMPASS: Literacy training for employees in nursing homes

www.vhs-kompass.de

Rationale

German experts estimate that about 7.5 million people between 18 and 65 do not have the basic skills in reading and writing they need to be able to fully participate in our society.

Current studies show that about 60% of these people are employed. Quite a number of them work in the service sector, e.g. nursing. They work as assistants although they might have the potential to complete a professional training. Others do not yet have the self-confidence to work. The VHS located in Göttingen identified these two groups of people as a chance for Germany to increase the number of skilled nurses and to acquire new potential assistants for nursing.

Objectives

As the VHS Göttingen Osterode gGmbH has been running classes for so-called functional illiterates for about three decades and profits from close professional contacts to elderly homes, the VHS in Göttingen decided to focus on the following idea: to identify two new target groups for a training in nursing together with a profound support in reading and writing. Assistants already working in elderly homes form one group and unskilled, unemployed people the other.

Description

VHS in Göttingen invented the project KOMPASS (English "Compass", see: www.vhs-kompass.de) funded by the Federal Ministery for Education and Research. The overall idea was to create a model to qualify functional illiterates for nursing. In order to do so VHS cooperated closely with an adult education center having a clear profile in nursing. Furthermore VHS worked together with elderly homes and the local job center. All these partners were vital to put the idea into practice.

Target group (recruitment, motivation):

KOMPASS has got two target groups. The first one (nursing assistants already working in elderly homes) was found by contacting the management of elderly homes in Göttingen and close to Göttingen. The first question asked was: "Do you employ assistants you think highly of but who have difficulties in reading and writing?" Almost all of them said yes. The management agreed to further education for their assistants when they learnt that the time was compensated by sending a course participant doing an internship to the elderly home.

The second target group (unskilled, unemployed people who could imagine working in elderly homes) was found via the local job center or via contacts VHS already had to participants of reading and writing classes.

Participants:

KOMPASS ran two classes with 8 participants each. People working already as assistants in elderly homes went to one class and unemployed people with an interest in nursing went to the other class. All of them belonged (more or less) to the target group of so-called functional illiterates.

The following keys of success were identified:

  1. Team teaching
  2. Instructors/ teachers with an understanding of the special needs of functional illiterates.
  3. Strong ties to the educationalists being responsible for the whole project (psychological support).
  4. Mutual understanding via regular meetings: Instructors teaching basic skills must have an understanding of what is going on in nursing lessons and vice versa: Instructors teaching nursing must have an understanding of what is going on in basic skills lessons.The better they support each other the better the success of the class.
  5. Special learning material: basic information, big font, not to many sentences on one page, illustrations.

Competence assessment

Unemployed people have to do an internship of at least two weeks in an elderly home to check whether nursing is a suitable work.

The potential participant fills in a questionnaire together with the educationalist. By doing so the educationalist gets a first impression of reading and writing skills. An informal talk gives an idea of the competences of the interested person.

Validation of learning outcomes

At the end of the class the participants sit a written exam and do a practical exam. This exam is difficult for the participants but they can pass it. In Göttingen only one participant failed the exam. The others were extremely proud to have passed it.

Effects

The participants improve their reading and writing skills and their knowledge of nursing. Some might want to go on learning by starting a proper training for nursing. The Göttingen model shows that all participants gained self-confindence. All participants found a job. A small number even started a proper training. Elderly homes, course participants and elderly people living in elderly homes do profit from this class. The participants started to earn their own living and the elderly homes found new employees. This is a vital contribution to our society.

 

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