In the face of repeated violence at the Rutli school located in the poor neighbourhood of Neukölln in Berlin, teachers were asked to close their facility in March 2006 .
The mayor responded by gathering on the same site a primary school, a middle school and a high school in order to adapt the teaching to the levels of students. This mix has paid off because today the city school has over 900 students and only 5% leave the institution without a degree.
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Sanem Kleff, a teacher born in Ankara and brought up in Hamburg, studied to be a teacher in Turkey and worked in a school in Berlin. Nowadays, she is manager of the ‘School without Racism‘ project, founded during the 1990s when molotov cocktails were through at asylum seekers.
Kleff explains that the reasons there are few teachers with a migrant background is because:
1) There are no rolemodels. Parents of children currently in school, who influence the choice of their children’s future, didn’t met teachers with a migrant background in their education. Or else they met bad teachers sent by the Turkish state in order to teach Turkish. The job of teaching is seen as a bad option for their children.
2) In many families, even in their 3rd generation in Germany, they still consider that they are ‘guest workers’. There is no point for them studying teaching or law in Germany. It would be better to become an engineer or a doctor, as that can be used everywhere.
3) Teaching is based on language. “Someone whose mother tongue is not German will never have the right level, especially in written German”.
One of the solutions that SKleff proposes is to increase the number of mentoring programmes for students. Perhaps a quota should also be included as a policy change to increase the number of teachers with a migrant background.
Via Sueddeutsche (in German)
Although more support measures have been introduced in Germany to support language learning during early childhood education, many children with a migration background are still not sufficiently fluent in German. In Hamburg, for instance, 25 percent of all children in pre-school are having difficulties speaking German on a level high enough to enter elementary school.
German politicians therefore often appeal to parents with a migration background to always speak German at home. Yet, a recent study conducted in Berlin has found that such advice is counterproductive when parents are not fluent in German themselves. Monitoring the development of German language competencies among Russian-speaking children, it showed that when parents with limited knowledge of German stopped speaking Russian at home, the children’s level of Russian declined while their German did not improve any further. Therefore, parents, who are not fluent in German, are better advised to talk to their children in their native language, and look for German language support outside their home, such as kindergartens and special language support programs.
An increasing number of students in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia are successfully completing higher education. In 2012, 44 percent of native students and 35 percent of migrant students completed higher secondary education, allowing them to enter university. Compared to 2005, when percentages lay around 36 and 28 respectively, this a very positive trend. At the same time, fewer students are enrolled in the lowest educational tracks.
Yet, for those with lower educational attainment, the labour market situation remains difficult as low-skilled students are currently facing unemployment rates of more than 30 percent. In addition, job security is an issue regardless of educational background. Almost a quarter of young people in North Rhine-Westphalia work on short term contracts, compared to only 6 percent in the age group above 30.