The Integration Puzzle What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life
Part 13: 'We Will Only Manage This If We Have the Infrastructure'
Cordula Heckmann, 57, is the director of the Rütli Campus in Berlin's Neukölln district, a gritty urban neighborhood with a large immigrant population.
How did you succeed in turning the Rütli High School around, Ms. Heckmann?
Cordula Heckmann, a woman who should have something to say about how to integrate children, is sitting at the end of the school corridor behind a green metal door. Report cards are stacked on a desk and some 550 students between grades seven and 13 are waiting for their grades. Ninety-two percent are first or second-generation immigrants, with most living in families receiving welfare assistance. Their parents originate from countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. They include Roma, Kurds, Yezidis, Shiites and Sunnis. "We are a microcosm of all the world's problems," says Cordula Heckmann, director of the school.
A security guard dressed entirely in black stands at the entry gate to the school, a reminder of the time a decade ago when it made international headlines for violence perpetrated by unruly students against teachers and became a symbol of failed integration in the German capital Berlin. In the years since, the school has made headlines for a successful turn-around that has made it a model for the future. So how did the school succeed, Ms. Heckmann?
"We have the same students, but students now have different prospects," she says. Rütli, which Heckmann has led since 2009, has been transformed into a comprehensive school in which children are now completing their college-prep high school education and heading off to university -- a development many would never have expected. The school has two daycare centers and also offers Turkish and Arabic courses so that students learn not only German, but also get proper command of their mother tongues in order to prevent them from speaking broken versions of two languages, as Heckmann puts it. The school also provides a health service where parents can take their children for medical checkups. Soon, the city will also open up a local branch of the youth welfare office inside the school.
Addressing the issue of all the refugee children who are now expected to be taught in German schools, she says, "We will only manage this if we have the necessary infrastructure." By that, she means money, facilities and training for potential teacher and staff positions. "Everyone needs to be working together: social education workers, school psychologists, social workers and police," she says.
- Part 1: What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life
- Part 2: Integration 101
- Part 3: Are Refugees More Violent?
- Part 4: Frustration and a Lack of Resources
- Part 5: Teaching Refugees to Swim
- Part 6: 'A Challenge Like No Other'
- Part 7: The Doctor's Advice: Learn German and Be Patient
- Part 8: A 1.5 Billion Burden for the Healthcare System?
- Part 9: Dancing Away Stereotypes and Prejudice
- Part 10: The Midwife's Migraine
- Part 11: Germany Will Need 20,000 New Teachers for Refugees
- Part 12: 'We Need Time'
- Part 13: 'We Will Only Manage This If We Have the Infrastructure'
- Part 14: 'We Will Undergo a Multicultural Transformation'
- Part 15: Refugees at Our Doorsteps
- Part 16: 1.09 Million Refugees Registered in 2015
- Part 17: Policing the Refugee Camps
- Part 18: The Refugee Bill
- Part 19: Integration Will Be a Task for Decades to Come
- Part 20: 'An Open Economy Would Be Unimaginable without Immigration'
- Part 21: BMW Courts Refugees
- Part 22: A Michelin Star and Refugees
- Part 23: 'What Is a Petroleum Technician?'