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BBC World Service - Documentary Archive

The Documentary Podcast

Download the latest documentaries investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

The Documentary Podcast

  • Germany's refugee teachers
    Five years on from the refugee crisis of 2015, Germany is now home to over a million refugees. Naomi Scherbel-Ball explores a classroom experiment with a difference: a scheme to retrain refugee teachers and place them in German schools, to help the country with a shortage of 40,000 teachers. Naomi visits a school in Mönchengladbach in Western Germany, where Mustafa Hammal teaches English. Mustafa, an English teacher with eight years of experience, fled the civil war in Syria with his family in 2015. Arriving in Germany, he discovered a teacher retraining programme designed to harness the skills that refugee teachers bring with them. Miriam Vock, an educational psychologist at Potsdam University, transports us back to the summer of 2015. Amidst the chaos of the refugee crisis, she wondered if there might be some teachers among the refugees arriving in Germany. A year later, the first refugee teacher retraining course was launched - an idea that inspired a number of other pilot courses across Germany. Retraining as a teacher in a system with rigid set qualifications is particularly challenging, however, and graduates are finding it difficult to find work. The success of the far-right Alternative for Germany, now the country’s main opposition party, has raised the stakes for refugees trying to integrate. As Germany struggles with an ageing population and a severe labour shortage, Naomi asks if refugees can fill the gap. This documentary is airing as part of Life Changes, a series of programmes and features across the BBC’s global TV, radio, social and online networks exploring the theme of change - how we change ourselves, our lives, and how we respond to changes in the world around us. Reporting from across the world - from Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda and Paraguay to Egypt, the US and Russia – the documentaries and digital stories will cover a diverse range of topics, from sexuality to sustainability, from peace to war, and from neurodiversity to migration.

  • Don't Log Off
    Alan Dein connects with seven individuals whose lives have shifted under the coronavirus pandemic as they nervously anticipate what will come next in an uncertain future. In Tehran, Golnar, an Iranian who describes herself as ‘constant traveller’ is inside her apartment – all future trips postponed. Across the town is the hostel she set up with a friend. Forced to close in the city’s lockdown it is now serving a crucial role. In Dhaka, as the pandemic takes hold, entrepreneur Fahad worries for the successful delivery business he has spent years building up and the future for his parents. In Greece, Ibrahim is homeless, sheltering in an abandoned building. His friend Mikki is self-isolating and cannot help him.

  • The man who died for trees
    Romania's forests are the Amazon of Europe - with large wilderness areas under constant pressure from loggers. For years, corrupt authorities turned a blind eye to illegal felling. But now a series of killings in the woods has intensified demands across the continent to end the destruction. Six rangers - who defend forests from illegal cutting – have been killed in as many years. Two died in the space of just a few weeks late last year. The latest victim, Liviu Pop, father of three young girls, was shot as he confronted men he thought were stealing timber. But the men weren’t arrested. They say the ranger shot himself. And in the remote region of Maramures, where many people are involved in logging, that version is widely believed. Locals are afraid to talk about what happened. Is the lucrative logging business protected by powerful interests who turn a blind eye to murder? And are rangers sometimes complicit in the rape of the forest? For Assignment, Tim Whewell tries to find out exactly how a young man employed to protect nature met his death. And he asks how Romania can save its wilderness when more than half the trees cut down are felled illegally? Reporter: Tim Whewell Editor: Bridget Harney (Image: Forest guards stand next to wooden crosses bearing the names of their killed colleagues, including Liviu Pop. Credit: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)

  • Miami: The sounds of the city
    Peter White, who was born without sight, takes a tour of Miami, navigating primarily with his ears. Peter joins a new blind friend, George, who takes him on a relaxed stroll around a well-heeled area on a sunny afternoon. Peter talks to Carlos, a homeless man trudging the streets each day looking for work. And, on the outskirts of Miami, Peter meets his first alligator.

  • Ethiopia and Eritrea: Rebirth at the border
    In September 2018, the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea was opened for the first time in 20 years. Physical travel between the two countries and even telephone communication had been next to impossible, separating families and devastating businesses in borderland towns such as Zalambessa in Ethiopia. The communities on either side have had the opportunity to reconnect, rebuild and move on with their lives. The town is undergoing a transformation. Now, family events and religious ceremonies are celebrated with renewed joy as relatives come together to mark life’s milestones. In this programme, we immerse ourselves in the baptism of a new baby boy, born to first-time parents, and find out if their Eritrean relatives are able to cross the border to join the celebrations as they hope. But there’s a twist. While informal cross border movement continues on foot, the official border checkpoint in the town is closed again for trade and vehicles due to political uncertainty. There’s a construction boom in the region because of the optimism that once prevailed, but for many, their hope has been replaced by despair as business is stagnating once again. This is a programme about how lives are changing in all kinds of ways, and about the hope people hold on to for a better future. We share in both joy and frustration; a conflicted situation that remains to be resolved.