Integration and Education: Immigrants in Germany Falling Behind
A new study released by the OECD shows that immigrants in Germany perform much worse at school than their counterparts elsewhere. Even more worrying: the second generation is falling even further behind.
High school students in Bavaria start taking exams this week. Most immigrant students don't get that far in Germany.
As soon as the results were made public, Germany's Minister of Education Annette Schavan called for more money to be spent on the country's kindergartens and schools. "We don't just need appeals," she said. "We also need a new funding concept." She also emphasized that immigrant children need more help learning the German language. "We have to provide children all over the country with a chance to improve their German knowledge even before school so they have equal access to a decent education," she said.
Head of the opposition Green Party Claudia Roth called the study results a "shame for Germany," and told the Cologne paper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that it was "shocking that the children of immigrants in our country have such terrible education opportunities."
Trouble for the second generation
The most disturbing aspect of the new study was the degree to which Germany's second-generation immigrants still lagged behind their native German counterparts. Only Germany, Denmark and New Zealand showed a decrease in performance from first to second generation immigrants in the four areas tested -- mathematics, reading, science and problem solving -- with German immigrant pupils by far the worst off.
Immigrant children in Australia and Canada posted the best marks in the study, though the socio-economic standing of immigrant families in those countries tend to be much closer to native families than in Europe. The study also found no correlation between the size of immigrant student populations in the countries studied and the size of the gap between immigrant and native student performance.
Specific criticism was levelled at the German and Austrian school systems for their practice of separating students by achievement at the age of 10. In Germany, this means that high-achieving students are placed in university track schools after the fourth grade and lower achieving students are essentially blocked from ever attending university. Many of the third-tier schools in Germany's three-level system become collection points for under-achievers, problem students and foreign students. Poor conditions at such schools have recently been splashed across the headlines in German papers.
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