The Integration Puzzle What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life
Part 4: Frustration and a Lack of Resources
Ms. S., 37, is an integration teacher in a populous German city.
What do immigrants learn in your integration course, Ms. S.?
S. speaks angrily and passionately and wants to remain anonymous. She has been teaching integration courses to immigrants for many years. The courses consist of around 600 hours of language training plus 60 hours of "orientation," which includes a week of politics and a week of culture and everyday life. She asks: "What could anyone possibly learn?"
The integration courses were introduced in 2005 and have until now been aimed primarily at family dependents joining other family members already in Germany or at migrant workers. Since October, the courses have also been available to asylum applicants. Immigration law provides them with access to such courses, but only if eventual "legal and permanent residence status can be expected." At the moment, Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis and Eritreans in Germany all qualify under the law. It does not, however, include Afghans. Such is the logic of the government in Berlin. (The German government has recently drawn criticism for plans to deport Afghan asylum-seekers coming from areas of the country deemed to be safe by Berlin.)
Recently, the conservative Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, has called for making the courses mandatory for all refugees as an essential part of integration measures. That would also mean making them available to all new arrivals. And therein lies the problem: S. says: "We don't have enough of anything, neither courses, teachers, space nor money."
Teachers are required to model their lessons on a curriculum provided by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Ms. S., showing one of the books, says: "Look inside, does this look to you like it is enough to do the job?"
The book, in its sixth edition, is called "For Orientation -- Basic Knowledge of Germany." It has chapters on democracy, political parties, civil liberties and civic duties, flags, coats of arms, anthems, National Socialism and Germany's Zero Hour, which marked the Nazis' formal capitulation and the end of World War II, East Germany and the European Union. There's also a section called "People and Society," which delves into everything from German gingerbread and the Harz mountain range to relationships of all kinds. It also mentions that women are equal to men, but it's just a brief sentence.
- 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?'