The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency last week published a 450 page study “Discrimination in German Learning Institutions and at Work” (Diskriminierung im Bildungsbereich und im Arbeitsleben) that included some very surprising findings.
Discrimination in Germany is usually based on country of origin, financial muscle, disability and sexual orientation. Segregation begins as early as in the Kita (comes before the Kindergarten). Sometimes the segregation isn’t planned e.g. when children from a predominantly foreigners or in a poorer part are all placed in the same school thus separating them from the other children.
In Kindergartens and Kitas
Children learn how to discriminate early and they learn especially from the teachers at the Kindergarten. The study suggests that Kindergartens employ more teachers with disabilities, non-natives, male and of different ages, to ensure children learn about differences in life earlier.
It was noted that there are currently no laws in the school system that explain what a child who has been discriminated should go about reporting the issue nor what punishment a teacher should get in case they are accussed of discrimination.
The system also has a tendency to underestimate children to migrant parents with many of these children being sent to schools for the slow learners instead of normal schools. Many teachers rate migrant children as less “bright” based on how well they speak German.
Children with foreign names also have a tendency to get worse grades regardless of what they put down on paper. It was found that teachers were less neutral in giving grades especially when those grades played a role in the child’s future e.g. applying to Uni or even for an Ausbildung.
After Primary School
It was found that 25% of the children tended to receive the wrong school recommended to them after Primary school (Grundschule). It was found that children to migrants and children from poorer backgrounds were less likely to receive a Gymnasium recommendation that children with the same grades but from a richer or academic family. Most teachers argue that the parents won’t be able to support the child enough through Gymnasium.
Muslim students who wear the hijab tend to have their performance undermined by most teachers.
Discrimination has been found to lower the motivation of most students leading to them giving up on their goals.
The main problem in the school system is that most teachers are usually female Germans with very few migrants. School material was also found to contain racist connotations and stereotypes.
Joining University remains a big challenge for migrant children in Germany based on issues with financing, mistrust of the University system, existence of barriers and bureaucracy.
Children with academic parents are 3 times more likely to join a University than children with parents without degrees. The German University system is also less forgiving to migrants wishing to study due to too many bureaucratic processes and lack of recognition of some foreign certificates.
Discrimination is rampant in Germany and it is great when some “reputable” organisations and agencies come out with scientific studies such as these to explain what is really happening in Germany. At least now when you talk, you can refer the naysayers to this study.
I remember there was a Kenyan doctorate student and when he was about to start the dissertation, one of his professors told him, “Don’t try too to hard, I don’t expect much from you anyways”…
A straight A Kenyan student was recently given a recommendation to join a Hauptschule, when the parent refused and asked to have it changed to Gymnasium, the lady working on the face told her to her face, “She can’t go to Gymnasium because you (the child’s mother) can’t afford it, you’re a Hartz IV (on social welfare)”.
Discrimination in the German school system is there and the only way to fight it and have foreign children getting equal rights is for the parents to be involved. Unfortunately, most foreign parents are either too busy making money and building mansions in Africa or are too timid to confront teachers. If foreign parents don’t get involved, the drop out rate for foreign students will remain double that of Germans or even increase and we’ll continue to have more foreigners on the welfare system.