In Grenoble, a school to allow migrants to integrate

Leaning over her sheet, square in one hand, pencil in the other, Rebecca traces, erases, retraces. “I would like to make the most beautiful diamond possible, she slips gently between two instructions from her teacher Frédéric. I was not interested in geometry when I was little, but there, I love it!” A few months ago, this 19-year-old Congolese girl could not imagine being able to go back to school one day. Arrived alone in France at the beginning of 2021, she slept on the streets for a long time before joining Grenoble, where she was drawn into a prostitution ring for several months. It is by approaching the reception center for asylum seekers (Cada) that the young woman discovers the school 3aMIE. Since the start of the school year, she has been preparing a professional aptitude certificate (CAP) in the kitchen. “I’ve dreamed of being where I am so much that I sometimes find it hard to believe!” she says with tears in her eyes.

When it was launched in 2017, this Grenoble association set itself the task of filling a gap in the path of young refugees. “Each one intervenes in his field, housing or administrative assistance, but there is a real lack of educational support. Those who are not yet officially recognized as minors, for example, cannot integrate a course of theNational Education, recalls David Hess, the volunteer president. However, this is one of their first requests and it is essential to build a future in France!”

Graduate education

Accommodated in premises in the city center lent by the municipality, these isolated young people can therefore benefit from twenty-five hours of general education, including French, mathematics, history or philosophy, while waiting to join a “classic” course. The school has since opened up to young people aged 18 to 21. They can prepare there, as a free candidate, a diploma – CAP or certificate of skills – thanks to technical training around the catering and building trades, two sectors in tension.

Here, the first meeting is with Marilou. “Some have been to school in French-speaking countries, others speak another mother tongue and have never had the chance to be educated, says the educational manager, who manages the distribution in groups, “from the stadium literacy up to the end of secondary school”. The pupils – around forty, present every day – can meet around informal moments, to share their progress, snack and laugh a little, like at the 10 a.m. break 30, this Wednesday.

A roof and papers

At the sound of the bell, everyone joins their class supervised by one of the volunteer teachers – former national education officers, retirees, executives looking for a job or students – now coordinated by a team of five employees. Between two classes Science Po, Léa, 20, comes to teach “the essentials” of history-geography. This morning, his group does not miss a crumb of its lesson devoted to the European institutions. “Their motivation impresses; it looks like they spent the night immersed in their books!” she exclaims, casting a knowing look at Yosri and Yasserine, two Tunisian brothers.

The work of 3aMIE is bearing fruit – 250 young people supported, around a hundred graduates, 100% success at the CAP –, “but training or a diploma does not replace a roof or papers!” recalls David Hess, who ensures that he maintains close collaboration with other local players, such as the Catholic Reliefthe Cimade or even the Apprentices from Auteuil, to overcome the obstacles that hinder integration, including housing and the administrative process. Like Lamboron, a 22-year-old Senegalese who “dreams of working in a bakery”, the students cling to the most beautiful examples of success: Sadrac, a Congolese who graduated last year, has already worked as a salaried electrician and starts additional apprenticeship training. He also settled in Grenoble, where he married and became a father.

Recipes for success

Close-knit students

Extracurricular activities (days at the museum or stays in the snow) are organized to help young people forge links; the association also proposes to put them in contact with the local chaplaincies.

Sponsorship

To facilitate the daily lives of young migrants, supported by several associations depending on the subject, each has a referent who undertakes to coordinate the procedures and to guide them if necessary.

Varied funding

In addition to grants from the city and the department, state aid under the poverty plan and support from private foundations, there is also a crowdfunding campaign each year.

In Grenoble, a school to allow migrants to integrate