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Afghan refugees begin social adaptation program

Ministries, Korea Communications Commission offer support programs to help resettlement

Afghan evacuees participate in outdoor activities at the National Human Resources Development Institute in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, on Sept. 13 after completing a mandatory two-week self-quarantine upon arriving in Korea. (Yonhap)
Afghan evacuees participate in outdoor activities at the National Human Resources Development Institute in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, on Sept. 13 after completing a mandatory two-week self-quarantine upon arriving in Korea. (Yonhap)
Afghan evacuees in Korea started a new chapter of their lives Wednesday, as the government kicked off a basic social adaptation program to help the refugees settle in the country.

The Ministry of Justice started the Korea Immigration and Integration Program for the adults to help them understand and learn Korean culture and the language. There are six levels in the program, the ministry said, and it aims to have the Afghans get through the first three levels, which would require at least 215 hours of classes.

“If they earnestly complete this step, we expect them to be able to have simple conversations about daily life (with Koreans),” the Justice Ministry said in a press release.

The Justice Ministry also plans to provide education on various topics such as the law, market economy, smart consumption and gender equality to offer them a better understanding of the social and cultural differences between Korea and their home country.

Earlier this month, the refugees were able to participate in government-organized outdoor activities such as Taekwondo and soccer classes, after they were released from a two-week mandatory self-isolation under the COVID-19 quarantine regulations.

As more than half of the 390 Afghan evacuees are children, the government is also offering them educational support tailored to their needs.

The children will be able to take basic Korean language courses, psychotherapy and art classes and parents will be informed on how they can enroll their children at public schools in the country.

The Education Ministry added that children will be given a fair opportunity for education under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Korea is a signatory.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said it will help the Afghans utilize the King Sejong Institute Foundation’s educational content on Korean language and culture.

The ministry will also deploy sports instructors to the National Human Resources Development Institute in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, where the Afghan nationals have been staying since their arrival, to provide exercise sessions.

The Korea Communications Commission said it plans to use media content to help the Afghans swiftly adapt to Korean society, adding that it will also educate them on how to protect themselves from online scams.

“The ultimate goal of the basic social adaptation program provided through collaboration between related ministries is the independence of the Afghan special contributors,” the Justice Ministry said.

“Employment education, which is essential for their proactive independence and integration of our society, will be conducted in cooperation with related ministries to suit individual situations and institutional conditions in the future.”

Last month, the government evacuated 390 Afghan nationals from their home country after the Taliban took control. The evacuees, named “special contributors” included people who worked for the Korean government, companies and organizations in Afghanistan. The government said the Afghans will eventually receive long-term residential visas, which would allow them to work here.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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