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Giving German schools an 'F' for integration

David Wroe · 28 Oct 2010, 16:25

Published: 28 Oct 2010 16:25 GMT+02:00

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Even before he was 10 years old, Joshua Lupemba's German teachers had written him off. They told him he was good at sport but no good at maths.

“So I accepted that … and I became really rebellious,” Lupemba, now 23, said. “I declared war on my teachers.”

His father, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, left the family when Lupemba was four months old. His mother, who came to Berlin from Ghana in her late teens, was left to raise Lupemba and his older sister on her own.

“She did the best she could and she did it well,” Lupemba said. “She worked as a cleaner and she’d take us with her so we could learn the value of work. But my schooling was a different issue because my mum was not very well-educated.

“I understood education was something you had to do but I never saw the purpose of it. I didn’t have a role model.”

Lupemba’s story is common in Germany’s immigrant communities. Language difficulties, social and cultural upheaval, or as in Lupemba’s case, low expectations and a lack of role models, are holding many children back.

In 2008, according to the federal government’s latest integration report, 13.3 percent of immigrant children aged 15 to 19 left school without any kind of qualification – twice the rate of youngsters from ethnic German families. Worryingly, the immigrant drop-out rate actually rose compared with 2007, when it was 10 percent.

Some 43 percent of immigrant children graduate with only a Hauptschule certificate – the lowest type in Germany’s multi-tiered secondary school system – compared with 31 percent of German children.

At the other end of the scale, just one in 10 immigrant children graduate from an elite, university-track secondary school, or Gymnasium, compared with one third of German children, according to a July report from social research group the Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband.

The education failures cause problems in adulthood, particularly in Germany’s large Turkish population, which has higher unemployment and crime rates than the rest of the country. All of this has been fodder for anti-immigration advocates like Thilo Sarrazin, the statistics-loving former central banker who sparked a sometimes constructive, sometimes poisonous debate about integration this summer.

Yet it also represents a massive missed opportunity, as The Economist magazine wrote earlier this year, pointing out that a country in demographic decline like Germany “cannot afford such waste” of its human capital.

Living down to low expectations

So how has it come to this? In a sense it’s not surprising: the immigrant groups that do conspicuously badly in school, such as Turks, largely came to Germany as low-skilled “guest workers” decades ago. Their parents are poorer, often don’t speak German well, and have lower expectations of their children’s education.

Most experts agree bad German is the biggest hindrance to getting ahead in life.

“It’s obvious that language is the main problem,” said Stefan Fuchs, a researcher at the Institute for Demography, General Welfare and Family in Sankt Augustin near Bonn. “Other countries have colonial histories but for Germany, which doesn’t have this, people don’t have that language background. If one searched for a single solution, that would be it. You can’t teach boys who don’t have enough language skills.”

Without strict discipline from parents regarding their education, children can often get on a downward spiral once they start to struggle at school, he added.

“In school, they have too little experience of success and so they search for success in other ways – they go online, they watch television, play computer games. It’s a spiral downwards.”

Mona Kheir El Din, a Berlin-based education consultant who was born in Egypt but whose mother is German, said many parents from Turkish and Arab backgrounds would let their children idly spend their time watching television unsupervised, thinking it would help with their German language.

“I have worked with children aged 12 to 14 and they told me they were watching films that were not okay,” she said. “I wouldn’t let my children watch them.”

Indeed, parental expectations are a big issue, said Daniel Faas a German sociology lecturer currently based at Trinity College, Dublin. Parents who came to Germany as unskilled workers from poor areas of Anatolya in Turkey may have low education expectations of their children. By contrast, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian parents put very high demands on their children, who accordingly do very well.

Equally worrying is that fact that these differences are in danger of becoming ingrained in communities, he said.

“I’m not such a fan of those generation arguments – saying ‘Let’s just wait and over time ... the generations will remove all these things,’” Faas said. “If anything, the third generation is actually worse again than the second.”

Heading in different directions

While initiatives such as integration courses introduced in 2005 and closer assessment of children’s language skills have helped, the single solution experts consistently mention isn’t a government programme but rather a change to the schooling system. At present, children in most states are channelled at the age of just 10 into Hauptschulen, Realschulen and the elite Gymnasien.

Immigrant children, who often get off to a poor start in primary school, often get put into the lower Hauptschule. In high-immigration areas of cities such as Berlin and Hamburg, that means they may have little contact after the age of 10 with better-performing children, including German children who have superior language skills.

“The German school system decides too early which path children will take … Right away children from immigrant backgrounds are disadvantaged here, because many achievement problems depend on language deficits in the schools,” said Klaus Bade, head of the Advisory Council of the German Foundation for Integration and Migration.

What's more, the system can compound the damage wrought by the school system's own low expectations of immigrant children, Bade said.

“Teachers often don't give even well-qualified children from immigrant backgrounds a recommendation to attend Gymnasium because they don't think the child has any chance at a Gymnasium without parents who support their education,” he said.

Allotting school spots later would mean the under-achieving immigrant children would have more exposure – and positive influence – from better-performing students. There have been some steps towards Gesamtschulen (comprehensive schools) or at least mergers of the lower two tiers. But the politics are tricky, because German parents of high-achievers don’t want their children held back.

This was demonstrated in Hamburg this year when voters rejected a referendum to extend primary school, in which all students are kept together, from four to six years, meaning they would not be assigned to schools until age 12. That referendum result has all but killed the idea of reform in many parts of the country.

A model for success

Whether it is other students, parents or teachers, underachieving immigrant children urgently need better role models, experts agree. One option is more immigrant teachers, said Daniel Faas. While nearly one in five students has a foreign background, barely one in 10 teachers does.

“There is a huge imbalance between mono-cultural staff and the highly diverse student populations,” he said. “You see much more diversity in the teachers’ common rooms ... in London than you do in Stuttgart. If you have no role model in the schools, it’s very difficult.”

Education consultant Mona Kheir El Din adds: “There are discriminating features such as teachers not being able to work with a headscarf. That’s a wrong signal. It is a must to have teachers like that because for a young girl, they are a role model. This is something that has to change.”

After plenty of wake-up calls – including an appearance before a judge who told him he was going to wind up in jail unless he changed his ways – Joshua Lupemba scraped through school with a Hauptschule qualification.

Fortunately, he also had enough self-confidence to overcome life's setbacks and take on new challenges. Lupemba played football with the now-professional Boateng brothers, with whom he shares Ghanaian heritage, and has started businesses in the arts and entertainment. Now, he has a Bible-studies degree from a US college and has been ordained as an Evangelical pastor.

He uses his various roles to act as a mentor to children who are on the wayward path he once found himself on, including visiting schools to encourage immigrant children to study.

“I’ve done okay without a good school education,” he said. “But I don’t want other children to think they can do without school. They need an education.”

David Wroe (david.wroe@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:48 October 28, 2010 by Gladiolus
This isn't a bad article, but the headline is atrocious-- "Giving German Schools an F for integration?" I'm a fairly liberal person on these sorts of things, but I'm sorry, it is NOT Germany's responsibility to hand-hold the immigrants and accommodate to their multicultural demands-- it is the immigrants' responsibility to integrate themselves into the German culture and economy. I have no sympathy for this Mona Kheir El Din and-- I'm sorry to admit-- quite a few other Turkish and Arab officials in Germany who (as the article itself points out) fail to set expectations for their kids to succeed, but pathetically whine about how those German meanies prevent them from wearing headscarf or a veil. Cry me a river-- Suck it up and do the work of integrating yourself.

This is especially true for Germany, which (to its credit) largely stayed out of the slave trade, and had almost nothing of a colonial history to speak of. The German lands have an ancient culture (and a highly evolved one), without the need to assuage any post-colonial guilt, so the Germans have no responsibility whatsoever to bend their culture for the foolishness of multiculturalism.

It's different for a country like, say, the USA or Australia, which has a history as an immigrant nation settled recently and, therefore, a culture much more in flux. It'd be perfectly fine Mona Kheir El Din and others to be more comfortable with their multiculturalism in North America or in Oz, where they can more or less set up their own communities in a culturally more fluid place to begin with. Or even in a country like Britain or France, with a long colonial history and so therefore more of a tendency toward multiculturalism. But not Germany, with a vigorous and long-established Central European culture that more or less arose there since ancient times, and without the blight of colonialism.
18:01 October 28, 2010 by basske

While you may have a point that immigrants need to, well, immigrate -- it's also the duty of the civilized 'long-established central European culture' to provide an environment where this is easily accomplished and/or supported.

If, for example, a student in class is actively ignored/shunned by teachers and peers alike, it's an uphill battle from the start. Sure, it's possible to succeed in SPITE of the difficulties presented, but it doesn't have to be that way.

If it's indeed the case like this for some students in the schooling system, then it's kind of difficult to assimilate and identify with a group of people who, for one reason or another, are uncomfortable, biased, or even downright rude because of who you are and where you came from.

So while it may not be the "duty" of Germany to accept multiculturalism (something which I may contest), it still has to live with the fact that it's a natural and necessary piece to an otherwise modern civilized society.
18:51 October 28, 2010 by kamikaze101
These pathetic excuses I have heard many times in many western countries, it's always the systems that failed them but not themselves, it's always someone or something else to blame but not themselves. If the language is so difficult and the schools and the teachers are so bad, how come the Asians are doing so well?
19:33 October 28, 2010 by DinhoPilot

They are doing well cause they are kamikazes (crazy suicidal people)! (What ever you call doing well!^) ^^
19:47 October 28, 2010 by adrianschwarz

You are right. Asians are doing well, but have you measured the success of Asians in Germany as compare to the rest of the world. Show me a Laxmi Mittal in Germany? Show me a Vishwanath Anand in Germany (World Chess Champion) ? Show me a Saching Tendulkar here in Germany? I am sure you do not have any answer to this question !

@ Gladiolus

You are also right :-) Germany did stay out of slavery and all that. But Germany did much worse than that. I think i do not have to mention that here.

I do not agree with you when you say that Germany is different as compare to US or Australia. Do you really know when was Germany formed? Well let me remind you, that was in 1945. Before that Germany was not even a country. Germany is mad up of immigrants. Remove immigrants out of Germany and you will see Germany collapsing quite clearly.

And if Germany really do not want multiculturism, then why does Germany sell your cars all over the world. If Germany doesnt want to support multiculturism then why go to markets all around the world?

I am sure that you too are without any words here.

And let me tell you one thing. People respect germany when they see made in Germany, but when Germany makes such statements like you in public, it just scares people away from Germany.
20:09 October 28, 2010 by Frank84
good article.
20:17 October 28, 2010 by ExpatUSA
But Germany did much worse than that. I think i do not have to mention that here.
And that has exactly what to do with the German school system and integration?
Do you really know when was Germany formed? Well let me remind you, that was in 1945. Before that Germany was not even a country.
Ever heard of the Deutsches Reich? Obviously not.
21:32 October 28, 2010 by ngwanem
@ExpatUSA: the problem with early determination in the German school system does not only concern immigrants. even native-born Germans are also not comfortable with it. it is actually those who seek for elitist separation, who are in favor of this system.


C'mon my home country was one of your ex-colonies, that was given up in 1918; not as a matter of choice but as booty to Britain and France to share. if Hitler had won WWII, I'm pretty sure the entire Africa would have been speaking German. So let us ditch the self-praise. In any case the German state still remains as one of the youngest Western European state to come into existence(the 19th century state created by Otto Von Bismarck) and let us admit (despite the difficult-to-integrate immigrants) Germany has still not caught up to living in a multi-cultural world, although they wouldn't mind other cultures buying their exported products and services(the major source of German wealth). If the entire world adopts your attitudes, well... what would happen? WWIII?
22:03 October 28, 2010 by catjones
Please don't complicate my thinking with details or exceptions. I prefer group indictments. Oh, and make sure you blame another group for this group's shortcomings. And most of all, make sure the bad group is the small group.

There, now I feel better. Better than those in that group, for sure.
00:02 October 29, 2010 by adrianschwarz

C'mon man. Every body on the street knows about the so called Deutsches Reich or whatever it is :-) or was. now lets talk about the present.

And if you look at what @Gladiolus said than u will understand exactly why i mentioned about Germany's past. Lets forget about it :-) you see the way the world thinks :-). Forget about the past and talk about present tense.
00:57 October 29, 2010 by AyaMatsuura
All the hand holding in the world can;t make these people integrate if they refuse. The government can have all the classes in the world, can offer these people money, can give them everything they 'need' to succeed. But if they don't want to learn German and they don't want to fit in and they want to keep living they did in some Turkish backwater, the government can't force them.

You can offer language and integration classes, but if they refuse to listen and pay attention, it's futile.
05:35 October 29, 2010 by ExpatUSA

I was trying to teach you some history, Mr. Adrian Schwarz., because your statements were pure nonsense. Germany existed before 1945 as a country, and the Nazi time has still nothing to do with the integration problems. No matter how hard you try. Other than that: yes, there are problems in the German school system which need to be addressed.
08:30 October 29, 2010 by ridac
I do agree with this, especially the German language classes. My two daughters studying at the Gymnasium school, last week one of them got the German language test result with B score. Anyway she gets B for one small mistake even though others gets A with real mistake.

Unfortunately some of German language teachers philosophy that students of foreigner parents does not deserve A mark no matter what is the test score or how good they are as German is not the only language used at home.

I wish this will be changed in the future and our kids will be treated based on their qualification only not their family names.
10:23 October 29, 2010 by LancashireLad
Folks we need to first recognise that this is a two part problem.

Yes it is true that some minority groups need to make more of an effort to integrate - but, you notice, not all. You might also notice that those communities currently being targeted by the debate are islam based ones - despite the fact that there are also islam based cultures that do integrate successfully.

The other side of the coin relates the amount of effort Germany, or Germans in general, are willing to put in to help these communities integrate. This is also a large part of the problem.

Yet again, nothing is black and white.
11:24 October 29, 2010 by kamikaze101

I think you are confusing about the kind Asians I was talking about. My kind of Asians that stop at the western borbers of Burma and do not go further beyond Tibets.
11:51 October 29, 2010 by wmartin
There's no question that immigrants should work hard to integrate. The underlying argument here is what is dangerous. Does Germany want to become an isolationist nation with closed borders? That's the implication here, the solution to this whole integration argument. An insular nation cannot play a role in the world stage as that world shrinks. Whether Germany was a colonial power or not is besides the point. This country cannot afford to have an exclusionary culture while everyone else embraces a flat world.
12:22 October 29, 2010 by kamikaze101

What the hell are you talking about? Germany is a member of EU and Eu has no borders, EU has no identities, no characteristics, let alone nationalistics. Perhaps, it's not enuogh for you, Perhaps, we should extend the EU to middle-east, central-asia and north africa...right? Show me who exactly embraces this world like you said except the west? And look at how it's really working out for them? It's because fools like you that turned the western world into such a mess!
13:36 October 29, 2010 by nashv
I won't comment on Germany's colonialism or existence as a country pre-1945. I am from India, and a foreign scientist living in Germany for the last 4 years. I have to say that Germany has perhaps one of the most structured and supportive administrative and social systems in the world. On the other hand, in my experience one of the most foreigner-unfriendly societies I have seen. I was surprised on my arrival here that there are so few people , even in highly educated circles, that spoke English. I am not an anglophile, but whichever way you look at it, English is today the lingua franca. I realise that multi-ligualism is just not part of German culture. Simple things, for example, all over the world, while sitting at the dinner table, it is considered common courtesy to speak in a language that everyone understands. It seems that Germans do not see it as rude to speak in German while excluding foreigners from their conversations.

I agree the foreigners must try to integrate. But the world is flat now, and it wouldn't hurt for Germans to be a little more accommodating towards foreigners - especially since educated foreigners often come to Germany to work and contribute to the economy - not as refugees.
15:21 October 29, 2010 by LancashireLad
Kamikaze - as regards the western world, what do you see as "such a mess". In what way did "fools like you" contribute to this?

nashv, I kind of take your point in that Germans are not necessarily foreigner friendly but I cannot accept your argument regarding language. Even though English is the global lingua franca you cannot *expect* people to speak a language that is not native to their own country. I know in India there is an extremely high proportion of people who speak English - you were one of our colonies - but believe me, you are an exception. Multilingualism is actually a part of very few cultures (Britain's included)
16:02 October 29, 2010 by vjtheking
Without getting into the debate on 'Integration', I'd like to say that the German School system is one of the shittiest I've come across. This practice of segregating students into different streams at a very young age is detrimental to everyone except an elite/intelligent few to whom it wouldn't matter anyway. Nowhere else have I seen a system that is geared towards mass producing STUPIDITY!! And this affects native Germans as well as immigrants - 43% of immigrants v/s 31% Germans in Hauptschulen is not much of a difference, but in absolute terms it's the Germans who are filling up the Hauptschulen!! What does this system do to the future of the nation when only 30% of the eligible students are given the opportunity & the resources to excel? The whole debate about allowing skilled workers into the country today stems from this fact.

I agree that parents play a huge role in determining how a child turns out, but the systems should complement those efforts. Otherwise, we will have the case that children from immigrant families will end up in the Hauptschulen and end up finally depending upon the social support system. And we'll lend more credence to the likes of Sarrazin when he states that certain races are full of dumb people!

I studied in a system where the 'stupid' & the 'intelligent' were given equal opportunities. What each one does with those opportunities determines where you go in life. I must say that the 'stupid' people in my class actually benefitted from interacting with the others while the 'intelligent' didn't suffer.

Finally, Darwin Rules!
16:59 October 29, 2010 by kamikaze101

Well, if you don't see the mess, then I have to assumed that you're one of the two, you either part of the mess or you one of the fools. Which one are you?

You probably from the UK. In your case, you just need to look out from the window and you'll see the mess!
17:44 October 29, 2010 by LancashireLad

How very generic. Any chance of being more specific? If you are talking about the general state of the WORLD's finances, not just the west, that is purely and simply down to greed and nothing else.

I repeat my earlier ignored question, In what way did "fools like you" contribute to the "mess"?

Your argument is not very coherent. Being "part of the mess" would also imply being one of the "fools like you that turned the western world into such a mess", therefore there isn't a choice in your argument, is there?

Please be specific and state verifiable facts.
18:14 October 29, 2010 by Kennneth Ingle
I think Germany does far more for integration than most other countries, but we cannot expect the teachers to learn all the languages of those coming to stay here. The shoe in my opinion is on the other foot. Nobody is forced to come to Germany! Those who do come however have the duty to try and fit into the community. When I hear, that some say "Germany is a great country, but too many Germans live here" it makes me ask, why the devil go to a land you do not like?

Could it be that the good social- and healthservice are the reasons for being here?

If that is the case, no effort from the German side will ever be enough for true integration.
22:31 October 29, 2010 by chinablue1104

so you lived four years in Germany and you expect the Germans to speak English?? umm, why should THEY speak in a foreign language to accomodate you? How about you make an effort to learn the language of your guest country.surely after four years and being an intelligent man you should be able to follow a conversation? no?

when in Rome...
23:55 October 29, 2010 by Curmudgeon
Myths: -Multiculturalism is beneficial; -The 'New Worlds" e.g. the America, Australasia, were/are more receptive to multiculturalism; -The majority of people support multiculturalism; -Modernity demands multiculturalism. Reality: -Multiculturalism benefits the foreigners to the country and hinders integration; -The "New Worlds" were meant to be extensions of the colonizers - even the founding fathers of the US didn't want foreigners; -The majority of people are opposed to foreigners in their midst, but are afraid to speak out as they will be branded bigots or racists; -I don't see African or Asian countries supporting multiculturalism. I am a Canadian. Forty years ago, when multiculturalism became public policy, Canada was overwhelmingly made up of people of European descent. Multiculturalism meant those people who were not descended from of one of the two official languages English (all of the UK) and French. In that context, a Ukrainian and a Norwegian are "multicultural" but have broad common connections. The same cannot be said for a Greek and a Somali. Due to official multiculturalism, hyphenated Canadians sprung up everywhere. There have always been ethnic groups that have had organizations to pass on the culture to the next generation, but the waves of Asians and Africans that have come use the organizations as political structures to push their own objectives, not the objectives of the population as a whole. When successful, these objectives are detrimental to the most vulnerable of the host country. These are, as Enoch Powell warned, the unintended consequences of "multicultural" immigration.
01:02 October 30, 2010 by EBR2010
Dear all,

I came to Germany as a voluntary worker in 2003. I never planned to stay that longer, but given circumstances I've decided to enroll myself for a graduate course of study. All five years at the University, I was trying really hard to make new friends. I thought that in the "democratic" country like that, people are excited in meeting and getting to know other cultures. I still cannot comprehend how narrow-minded some of my classmates and even lecturers were. In order to finance my studies, I was applying for each and every job. At first, i tried to think positively and never took any job refusal too personally. I even deluded myself into thinking that probably i am being overqualified for part-time jobs. Soon after, as I've started to inquire many HR managers on what was really missing in my portfolio to accommodate their needs, the answer "Ihre Deutschkenntnisse sind nicht ausreichend" was really discouraging. Thus, I ended up by working as a dogsitter for quite a long time.

Speaking fluently four language, having two higher education degrees, more than six years of working experience in the international development work....and still being considered merely as another "unwelcome alien" in this society?! I have no doubts that there are thousands of similar stories out there. As long as the wall of prejudice stay impenetrable, foreigners will never be given a chance to rise in this society. It is sad that majority of foreigners don't stand up for their most basic rights and let themselves being belittled and put into a box (from within which, they don't even fully comprehend the marginality of their own position).

Whatever, just keep in mind, that if a person happened to speak/write with "accent" - it does not mean at all that he or she also thinks with one :) I really hope that Germans will "wake up" before it is too late. Asymmetric mode of thinking and generally all this fuss on integration is not a solution. Biased prejudices will scary away the most capable and loyal ones among the foreigners.
02:14 October 30, 2010 by Paul Mannstein
Let's not forget that female German teachers are under constant threat of being assaulted by moslem students. Kreuzberg in Berlin is a hell hole for such occurances. In the moslem culture women are second class citizens at best.
10:25 October 30, 2010 by crm114

You asked many potential employers why you got no offers and you were told that your german was not good enough for their requirements. Why do you extrapolate from this that you are an unwelcome alien? On the basis of the evidence offered that is simply not true. I would presume that since this rebuff you have used your existing language skills and become a proficient german speaker.
11:17 October 30, 2010 by kamikaze101
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
12:25 October 30, 2010 by crm114
"...In the moslem culture women are second class citizens at best."

Until they get home, when they become queens, or so we are told (kafir teacher whores excepted of course)
13:40 October 30, 2010 by EBR2010
@crm 114

Exactly, it is not about language skills. It is about the notorious stereotype that foreigners are here to steal jobs and abuse welfare system. While i feel very happy to be able to leave this sad place soon, i'm really sorry for all people of goodwill being stuck here, with no future prospects, recognition or whatsoever. So, please, don't have the nerve to try and convince readers that foreigners are only to blame, and that they are not committed enough to "fit" into the society. May I suggest that if native Germans keep pushing foreigners away then it's only natural they're not going to be particularly receptive to anything. What goes around comes around oder ?!
13:54 October 30, 2010 by padu
My 16-years son has two Chinese class-mates who are so intellegent, polite, deciplined and calm. They can speak pretty good German and are always the best in class. My son said they should be the most qualified Auslanders to stay (sorry who is not?). But guess what Chinese kids said? They said they would go home to serve China even if asked to stay and cannot imagine to live in country where they feel as foreigners all times. The most embarressed comment they made was--In Beijing over 10,000 Germans are never treated so hostile as they are in Germany.

Man, are we Germans so narrow-minded in foreign eyes while we live on exporting to foreign countries? Damn!
14:04 October 30, 2010 by kamikaze101

Where are you heading? Middle-East or Africa? Yeap! I heard they're treating people much more better over there then here!


I think i agree with you there. The Germans do not know who are friends and who are foes.
15:46 October 30, 2010 by EBR2010
Land of Broken Dreams

There was a girl. She had a dream.

A dream of being happy.

She did her best,


Humiliation and in-appreciation were only issues to address.

She wants to leave no matter where to.

Just somewhere faraway.

Far from the stings of lame condemn,

received for trying hard to be like ¦quot;them¦quot;.

Dividing all in ¦quot;white¦quot; and ¦quot;black¦quot;

in ¦quot;good¦quot; and ¦quot;evil¦quot;.

Will lead us all to an upheaval,

which is few steps away from Medieval.

Why human nature is so primeval?!

Beyond all fears and confusion

That girl will carry on.

She hopes to face no more illusion

and heal her pains from the exclusion.

So, drop another stone into the fragile glasshouse of my soul

Yelp out loudly that I am the one to blame

For dreaming of Germany my second "mother" to became.

I did my best, I really did.

But got mistreated like an orphan kid.
16:13 October 30, 2010 by MissCalifornia
The persons interviewed for the article seemed to have answered their own question: the solution begins at home, with the parents. The immigrant community needs to reach out to their own people and help them understand the importance of education, language skills, turning off the TV (read a book or do a puzzle instead), etc.

This is a huge problem here in the US. The school system here does not track students the same way that Germany does, but there are the same concerns that the overall quality of education suffers when classes are taught to the lowest common denominator. This is true even when students are separated into tiers based on ability (or perceived ability).

Integration and bilingual education have not improved American schools. Just as in Germany, certain cultures (Asian, Indian) are excelling while others (Mexican, Central American, Caribbean and African) are not. Schools here offer bilingual education in Spanish--it has not helped. Meanwhile, students who arrived speaking Vietnamese, for example, do not have classes in their native tongue, but manage to learn English quickly.

There is no doubt, for me at least, that a child who is in the country (whether it is US or Germany) legally deserves the best education he can get--it certainly does not benefit society to increase the ranks of the low-skilled or unemployable.

I must take the stance that schools should not dumb-down the curricula. I do not personally understand why a teacher cannot wear a headscarf, and it is also obvious that schools should employ the best-qualified teachers, no matter what their ethnic or cultural background.

It really is incumbent upon the immigrant community (e.g., the religious leaders, etc.) to intervene early in the family's arrival and in addition to all the other forms of transitional assistance that are typically offered, they must support education for the youngsters. Maybe this means forming an after-school or weekend study group or German classes, or assigning a volunteer to help mentor a child while he develops study skills, offering pre-school for younger children so that when they enter the German school system, they are already speaking German. This is the job of families and churches/mosques/etc.
16:19 October 30, 2010 by mrgalak
I have lived in a number of countries (Europe, Asia, USA). I am said to say that Germany is probably the most xenophobic of all. After 13 years of working here I cannot say that I have even one friend of German origin. This is not for lack of trying to meet and invite people over to our family home. Most of my expat friends, except those married to a German, have the same experience. None of them wishes to stay in this country for longer than necessary, usually for professional reasons. I ascribe it to the education system, which ingrains an attitude of superiority of the German culture. Usually, denigrating or xenophobic comments are not made in one´s face, but often enough looks speak volumes. Therefore, I am not surprised at all to read that Germany is experiencing a negative migration balance, ie more foreigners are leaving the country than entering. What this means for a country with a catastrophically low birth rate is quite clear. The fact that politicians who scream out loud that "we don´t need any immigrants" are cheered upon can only bring me to the conclusion that many Germans are terminally stupid.
16:35 October 30, 2010 by MissCalifornia
I just want to add that I am planning to move to Germany in the next few years. The first order of business when I made that decision? Enroll in college-level German courses to learn proper, grammatically correct speaking and writing so that I can GET A JOB in Germany! Duh. I realize that not every immigrant has the luxury of learning the language before arriving, but I have to think that there are many opportunities to take classes once settled. Am I wrong? Here in the US, just about every church, mosque, temple, community center, technical college, and even public libraries offer English classes for immigrants (often free of charge). A person living here for more than a couple of years without trying to learn English really has no excuse.

I would gladly move to Germany tomorrow and work as a cleaner or whatever until my German improved sufficiently that I might land a professional job--but it is not that easy to immigrate legally.
16:57 October 30, 2010 by EBR2010
@ MissCalifornia

did you have a chance to read my input above?! I worked fully legally as a dogsitter for years and years. My German skills are perfect, over-average M.A. degree in Arts gained as well, but it doesn't matter at all when it comes to getting an equal treatment while applying for well-paid jobs. I hope so very much that your aspirations won't be abused like mine. Each case is different anyways. Ii don't know what is your ethnic or religious background but it really does matter here. There is also a slight chance that maybe you will be given an opportunity to excel, for Germany also needs some "success stories" to be allowed time by time, like in the case of the previously-mentioned German Minister of Health.
18:14 October 30, 2010 by crm114
@EBR it is indeed unfortunate that some immigrants will be labelled as welfare system abusers but the sad fact of the matter is that all over Europe not just in Germany, migrants are arriving with no real hope of getting any meaningful work that could support them or their families because they have no skills but the welfare system will support them and in many cases much better than in their country of origin, so they stay and in this sense they are welfare abusers and you get tarred with the same brush, and in this sense they are "stuck here, with no future prospects, recognition.." So how does that benefit the host nation?
18:25 October 30, 2010 by Janetlynn039
I just wanted to add that I've been living in Germany for 4 months now. I didn't have the ability to study German before I came here. My husband was transferred suddenly for his job. That being said, I've been studying German for 4 months now and can speak and understand enough to construct simple sentances in order to travel, order a meal, and shop for the things I need. I took the beginner's German at the German night school, but it moved too slow for me and I was way past, "Wie heisen sie?" With this being said, I'd like to add that I have 12 years of college and university behind me. I've studied 2 years of Spanish at Purdue, and French as well. My point being.....the research studies are out there, and research studies show people that come from poor economic countries.....who are largely illiterate in their own countries.....are going to have a harder time learning a 2nd language. If you add age into that factor.....if the person is middle aged or elderly it becomes even harder. I don't see this so much as an issue of multiculturalism.....as I do an issue of education, training, community support etc. For me, its an issue of humane concern for ones fellow man. Not us against them, or it all being on them to learn and intergrate. The research is out there folks....the majority of immigrants will struggle and fail.....IF the community, society, gov't, education system doesn't figure how help these folks learn the language. How can you successfully integrate if can't learn the language? How can you learn the language if you are already struggling with reading, writing etc in you own native tongue?????
18:50 October 30, 2010 by Johnne

Mexicans, Carribeans ,Africans, Middle americans are not doing well in the USA?? I think you´re very very wrong.
20:08 October 30, 2010 by kamikaze101

No john, misscalifornia is not wrong. In fact, she just been a little modest. The high school drop out rates among the Hispanics and Blacks in USA are about 50%, the other 50% who somehow managed to graduated from high school doen't mean that they all can read or write. Only a fraction of these high school graduates actually manage to graduated from college. I heard this somewhere that there are more african americans in prisons than in college.
04:00 October 31, 2010 by brnskin2010
@kamaikaze101.....to answer your question regarding african americans...yes there are more african americans in prison than in college because of racism.......It seems that you are of Asian descent....Ive done my share of traveling.....and currently I'm living in Germany.....What's up with you Asians don't you like your country.....I've seen more Asians living, working in other countries than any other race....is it communism ,over population or what?....You migrate to America start businesses and don't pay taxes for 5yrs....and to avoid paying taxes.. you sell the business to a family member......Asians strive to fit in because they don't like their country and really are afraid to fight for democracy...so they migrate EVERYWHERE in the world...with the exception of the Middle East.....
07:43 October 31, 2010 by duetpaa
I live for four years in Germany and for three years, I am learning German very intensively. And I'm learning German, not because I have to, it's fun and besides I have enough time for it.May be that's why i feel myself integrated . But the language skills are not enough, because integration is just a feeling. Sometimes you get it and sometimes not. I know a man here from my country, who has studied medicine in Germany and now works as a doctor. He thinks this country, the society has given him many opportunities to build a new life, yet he did not feel integrated here (although he also has German friends). So i think, integration is only a feeling and at least the state is doing enough here to enable the successful integration. Whether it works or not is another matter.

In the end I would like to write that this text is only a translation of that what I have written in German, so bad is my English and so good is my German (only after three years)
10:00 October 31, 2010 by Johnne

You heard somewhere?? brinskin2010 has already responded well to your comment but let me add to it. first of all, if you look at the face of the US President you will remember that BLACKS & HISPANICS can achieve ANTHING when given the chance. I have 14 cousins in the US and ALL of them are well educated not to talk of my uncles & auntsthat migrated to the US in the 70s to study...the minimum is always Masters degree. I personally don´t know an uneducated African American out of the 1000s I know there (family members,friends etc) it´s always easy to pick on the bad eggs out of the good ones so I understand what you´re saying. Of course there is high unemployment rate, high drop out rates etc out of the 40 million "black community" in the US, It is the same prejudice problem immigrants or people of colour face in western countries. Again, it´s not new to me..it won´t be new to Condolizza Rice, Colin Powel, Oprah Winfrey & thousands of sucessful, average blacks in the US. I just laugh when I read some comment here:-))
12:01 October 31, 2010 by kamikaze101

Judging your statement and the way you wrote it, I assumed that you are very highly educated, probably another high school dropped out from the ghetto? Why are you here? Ah, i got it! Got yourself an over weigh German gal huh? Normally I would compel to respond to this kind of over the top state, but in your case i feel there is no need to, because you can take a guy out of ghetto, but you can not take the ghetto out of a guy.


You are contradicting yourself there john. On one hand, you said USA is a racist country and on the other hand, you are using Obama as an example of the african americans' success. First, Obama is half white, he was raised by his white grandmother, if he was raised by the other side of his family, there is a good chance that he would ended up in prison already, not in the white house. Second, if americans are so racist like and you brothers claimed, how come they elected a guy with black face as their president? Third, you said you have seen 1000s of african americans and none of them is uneducated? I got a question for you...in what planet did you see them? Because that is not the USA that we all know. In the land that a third of your brothers and sisters have come to contact with the law, i find that extremely hard to believe! Fourth, most of the the names that you're using as an example of success...i got two words for you..."affirmative actions"!
16:21 October 31, 2010 by Deutschguy
Please don't take kamikaze's crazy statements as either fact or representative of most Americans, including most white Americans. He relies on stereotypes to fuel his racist rantings, whether it's against another poster or against entire groups of people, in the US.

You can tell from his poor grammar and syntax that he himself is under-educated and resents minorities who have achieved more than he has, hence his inability to acknowledge racism in the US or his attribution of any success of a minority to affirmative action.

Hint for kamikaze: It's properly titled Affirmative Action, not "actions". And, by the way, affirmative action is a process whereby a minority applicant, out of two equally qualified candidates, might be given preference to reflect local or state demographics. It is not a system of promoting or selecting unqualified minorities.
20:43 October 31, 2010 by kamikaze101
Great! Here we go again, is another son of Shanene who got himself an obese German gal to take advantage of that's all.
19:48 November 1, 2010 by onemark
basske is right:

Germans have to make an effort to integrate foreign nationals here just as much as foreign nationals have to make an effort to integrate - it's a two-way street. (And, contrary to what Seehofer says, Germany IS a country of immigration whether he and the CSU likes it or not.)

The problem with many if not most Germans is that they have problems with all kinds of strangers, including other Germans from other parts of the country. Unfortunately, that's not going to change overnight. It would probably take an evolutionary biologist AND and evolutionary pyschologist to get to the bottom of that can of worms.

May Germans have a problem with dark skinned foreign nationals, others have problems with foreign nationals who speak good German but with a pronounced foreign accent. That's not going to change any time soon either.
02:45 November 3, 2010 by Ich
I am a BIG fan of the German tiered school system and wouldn't change it to accomodate anyone. Every country needs leaders, first, because survival is never guaranteed. It's unfortuneate that the system doesn't work for everybody, but no system does. Don't hold back the fast kids for the slow ones. Give the fast track everything and hope for the best, is the best anyone can do. In America, we have, literally, polluted our education system to the point where BS degrees are worthless and I haven't actually seen too many PhD's I'd call smart. While in Germany, however, that was not the case. German "Doctors" were the real thing. "No Child Left Behind" pretty much means everybody is behind. Truth is, we don't need a country where everybdoy has a degree: just the smart ones.
11:33 November 4, 2010 by Joshontour
Germans are just as much a part of the problem as the immigrants. I have lived here for over three years now, and when I put my son into 1st grade this year, they put him in a class with only immigrant children. My wife is German, my son speaks German as good as any other 6 year old, it is more his native language than English seeing as he was two when we came here and at that time his English was very limited. The only reason I can think that they would make such a class is to not pollute the real German kids with foreign influences. In the meantime Germans wonder why foreigners cannot learn the language... well, when you don't allow our kids to interact with your kids, that's what you get.
12:31 November 4, 2010 by snowwolf
If you sit with the low learners you will become one of them!
03:04 November 10, 2010 by msparida
Integration comes from inter by getting outside collective attraction impulses.Collective attraction impulses blown from individual attraction thought.Individual attraction thought arisen from how much one loves to own community living Ideal (Man God).Adherence grows by getting perpetual religion goading from front line disciples of all world wide communities.

It is clear that root of make integration thought and deed is closely connected with perpetual religion conception.Here I highlight the role of perpetual religion for integration within nation and abroad.
08:44 November 19, 2010 by Bruce Card
To integrate anywhere can be difficult, even to the town next door. People are different and you have to find your comfort zone. In America people can dislike you even if you¦#39;re blond and six feet tall. What is the point of it all? You want to be happy, right? Like some guy said, ¦quot;Life is what happens while your making plans¦quot;. Just regard your valuable time, and choose wisely.

What we are not talking about is the elephant in the room, you are not talking about the social acceptance of a simple head scarf, get real. So, how many of us are willing to talk about the truth? Not many I would imagine. I mean the Truth?

What we are really talking about is compassion, how much we have and how much we are willing to give away and to whom, why and when. Anytime people feel threatened they are not likely to be especially friendly, and few are going to win the favor of everyone, all the time. You have race, color, culture, economics, and pride to deal with not to forget that a lot of people as individuals are just

stinkers as personality types. Some people are just not laughing unless they are laughing at someone else.

Go to places people you would like to know go. Helping others is usually a sure way of making friends.

Personally, friends are a rare thing, for me it is difficult to accept as good or even just ok, things I believe to be bad, and by that I mean I judge every spoken word. I¦#39;ve been popular and people are so fickled, smart and it¦#39;s a little cold, brutal and I have nightmares. I have only one ideal as a friend and that is the Truth, one mood and that is compassion and one goal which is virtue.

The Truth can be uncomfortable without mercy, but the Truth is an eternal and acceptable choice, everything else is just a lesser thing. I love the Book.
07:35 November 21, 2010 by dlplife
No surprises here. The families need to make the difference. Many children from Turkish families come to the first grade not speaking German. They are behind from the outset and many never catch up.
12:39 November 21, 2010 by Sapphire012
This is of course not a simple issue: immigrants must try themself to integrate, and Germans should support them in at least understanding (even slightly) their difference backgrounds as well as difficulties in learning German, and not judging foreigners their "not-perfect" accent. I think the issue of integration is not simply a language problem, but the language is the frontal matter and only after that, other problems arise.

I think the main point in the title of this article is foreigners have to try THREE TIMES OR MORE HARDER TO INTEGRATE INTO GERMAN SOCIETY compared to other countries', and most of Germans take this as granted: it's a "in or out" clear situation - either FULL adaptation or leaving.
21:15 March 29, 2011 by STEFAN JONES
i think i may be on wrong page waqnt the one about immigrants ok my son is half english and iam in the army i have not seen my son for many years i would love to see him soon when i join the army that was to protect all t5he good people in the world i would liken to say that we must all try to get along as best as we can it is hard to mix in with german society my first place was theinsel usedom and that was hard never mind will my son of had same treatment i have fought along side with germam army we all got on fine think i still have good maates there alive and dead would love to see son again damon please call 00447914333608 thanks ps chuck nall none conformers out there and here fed up with loooking over shoulder when i go out to the towns hello heidesee
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