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Madrid university offers young Afghan refugees prospect of a future in Spain

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By Carlos Marlasca
Spanish Professor Andrés Pereira explains his lessons to Afghan refugees at the Camilo José Cela University in Madrid, on January 20, 2022.
Spanish Professor Andrés Pereira explains his lessons to Afghan refugees at the Camilo José Cela University in Madrid, on January 20, 2022.   -   Copyright  Euronews

Nasratullah Jabarkhil fled Afghanistan to start a new life in Spain as a student at a university where he can choose what he wants to study.

"Either Law or Computer Engineering. I like Law because it would allow me to integrate well in the country as I would learn the rules and the legislation here. I also like Computer Engineering because I've always liked technology," Jabarkhil told Euronews.

Five years ago, the Camilo José Cela University became the first in Spain to welcome young people from areas of conflict.

This year, the 'Integra' programme has allowed 40 Afghans to start a course that will help them in their professional life, starting with language lessons.

"I would like to speak Spanish because I need to work," said Nasir Rahimi, another Afghan student at the university.

Spanish Professor Andrés Pereira says he starts his lessons with grammar and then moves on to more analytical exercises in pairs or groups.

"We do a kind of grammatical analysis about what verbs they are using, how those verbs work, etc. Then we usually do a more analytical exercise in pairs or groups, where they have to use the language, the grammar, and the vocabulary they have been learning. Then we finish with a more communicative activity," Pereira added.

In the second year, the scholars can start their vocational training.

"These young people come here to look for work and earn a living like other citizens in our country. So we thought that teaching them a job would enable them to enter the labour market as soon as possible," explains Ignacio Sell Trujillo, the university's director.

Although not all students live in Madrid, they can all access online training.

The project began in 2016 and was awarded two years later the European Citizen's Prize. Last year, 10 students graduated from that class.