To bridge the culture gap, it’s back to school for Europe’s new migrants

Global Business

For the more than 1 million people who have arrived in Europe over the last year, there are fresh challenges to overcome.

Many come from very different cultural backgrounds in the Middle East and across Africa. In Belgium, local authorities offered citizenship classes to help them adjust to a new life.

CCTV’s Elena Casas reports from Brussels.

Negotiating the health system, dealing with Belgian bureaucracy, and the ins and outs of immigration law and all that’s on the syllabus at a course in Brussels.

There are students from Nigeria, Afghanistan, India, and Poland. Some have been in Belgium as long as eight years, while others have been in teh country just a few months.

The teacher, Asadullah, was a refugee from Afghanistan.

But multiculturalism also presents some challenges for people from more traditional cultures – including learning to accept gay relationships and equality between men and women.

There is a  school  in the heart of the Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek that the area is very multiethnic, and it’s been a target for critics who say immigrants are failing to integrate in Belgium.

The school is funded by the local government in an attempt to turn that perception around.

In Brussels, local authorities were keen to show they recognize that adapting to life in a new country is about much more than just practical skills such as language. They hope these classes will help new arrivals feel truly at home in Belgium.