19:10 GMT17 February 2020
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    France's National Association for Adult Vocational Training (AFPA) has launched online courses aimed at smoothing the process of social integration for incoming refugees. The courses are designed to introduce basic "republican values" of the Fifth Republic, including the "peculiarities of relationships between men and women."

    The National Association for Adult Vocational Training (Association nationale pour le Formation Professionnelle des Adultes in French, AFPA) for adult job seekers and employees has recently launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aimed at making it easier for incoming migrants to integrate into society.

    The online program is not only set to help migrants study the national language to be able to find employment in the future, but is also to promote what it calls basic "republican values" of the Fifth Republic, including the "peculiarities of relationships between men and women."

    The French language course, created by AFPA, is free of charge and is partially translated into English, Arabic, Pushtu (spoken in Afghanistan) and Dari (the variety of the Persian language also spoken in Afghanistan).

    The program is available to 1,345 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who have been living in the AFPA refugee centers since autumn of 2015. It will be soon available to other associations and organizations which provide assistance to migrants, according to the association's press release.

    "This is the first program of this type, nothing of the kind has been ever available before," Pascale Gérard, Director of Partnerships and Diversity for AFPA, told France 24 channel.

    The online course consists of 30 entry-level lessons which will take up to 6 weeks to learn and is designed for recently arrived migrants. Its purpose is simply to teach the basics of French – to be able to introduce oneself and be able to use the country's major services, such as transportation, for example.

    It took three months to set up and launch the program, Gérard said.

    Thanks to this program, the refugees will be able to overcome the first and the most important barrier towards their integration into French society and will be able to find employment. The online course will also be useful to companies which employ workers with poor knowledge of French – such as construction companies, says the official website of the association.

    AFPA representatives also explained why they have chosen to make it an online course: the majority of the refugees are digital native, i.e. born after the introduction of digital technologies and spend much time on their smartphones.

    "The idea was to set up an instrument of self-education which will provide an opportunity to learn French at your own pace, doing one and the same exercise as many times as needed," Pascale Gérard explained.

    The peculiarity of the course is that it contains exercises regarding basic "republican values," she further explained, the purpose of which is to "understand the fundamental principles" of the host country.

    "There is a video about the relationship between men and women," she noted.

    The whole course will be available in March. After completing the course, students will receive a certificate on "successful learning", which is a "magic key" to world of employment, she finally stated.

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