2008 Carl Bertelsmann Prize: ''Integration through education -- Fairness for all''
Carl Bertelsmann Prize 2008: All Kids are VIPs
Integration depends on education
International studies have shown that learning achievement in Germany is more strongly dependent on family background than in most other countries. In terms of family income, more than 50 percent of children from the top quartile of society go to a Gymnasium (the secondary school type generally preparing the students for university education), compared to only 10 percent from the bottom quartile according to income.
Children and adolescents from immigrant families are particularly affected: With the same intelligence and competency, they achieve less well regarding educational attainment than native students, and their chances to complete qualified training in a profession or trade are only half that of native youths. For instance, according to the microcensus of 2006, 9.4 percent of residents of immigrant origin in Germany do not hold a general certificate of school graduation – compared to 1.5% of the native population.
This educational disadvantage is squandering talent and frustrating human beings. According to a recent survey of the DIE ZEIT weekly newspaper, as many as 38% of young people of Turkish immigrant origin still perceive themselves as unwelcome in Germany. It is even possible to attach an economic price tag to this lack of integration: A recent study by the Bertelsmann Stiftung shows that the shortcomings of immigrant integration in the labour market cost the German state 16 billion Euro per year in lost income tax and contributions to pension and social security funds.
The Call for Action:
The education system in Germany is failing to compensate for the initial disadvantages of children from immigrant families. Among the reasons for this failure are the shortness of class time shared by all students at “half-day schools”, which are the standard in Germany, and the early tracking of children into school types according to “aptitude” or “inherent talent”, which causes most immigrant children, just because of language difficulties, to end up in Hauptschulen, where the learning climate is generally less inspiring than in other school types.
The resulting lower learning and participation opportunities for children and youths from immigrant families show that Germany must improve the integrative power of her education system. This “adaptive” challenge cannot be resolved by isolated measures. Rather, there has to be fundamental change and re-orientation, acknowledging the realities of immigration, demographic change and progressive globalization.
Educational policies must strive to create an integrative system that offers fair opportunities for all children. This integrative education system would be characterized by:
- Appreciation of the cultural and societal diversity of modern Germany,
- Individual support for students, instead of “aptitude tracking”,
- Rewards for the integrative performance of schools, following the rule:
“Better integrative performance requires and deserves more resources”
- School and community leaders taking responsibility for all students’ learning achievements, independent of social and ethnic background.
The Carl Bertelsmann Prize 2008 will highlight positive examples that allow, within the “School” chapter of the educational biography, individual support for children of immigrant origin. The education and integration policies of 10 of the more successful countries, especially with second-generation integration, are reviewed through the international search.
Relevant state and societal programmes are analyzed systematically for their potential to allow effectively and sustainably the structural and identificative integration of children and youths from migrant families.
Results and experience from the international search holding lessons for Germany are presented at the ceremony in Gütersloh, where outstanding achievements are awarded the Carl Bertelsmann Prize 2008.
+49 5241 81-81498