Berlin schools ‘racially segregating’ children

Several primary and secondary schools in Berlin are segregating migrant children into classes with “vastly inferior education,” to attract “ethnic Germans,” an NGO has told a United Nations Human Rights session in Geneva.

The report, drawn up by the international NGO Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), noted that children of immigrants are being segregated from native-born German pupils on the putative grounds that their German language skills are inadequate for regular classes.

“In fact, although they speak German as a second language (in most cases), their language skills generally are adequate for regular classes, but serve as a proxy for discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or other suspect criteria,” the OSJI reported.

“The discriminatory practices stigmatise migrant students, undermine their potential to integrate and participate fully in German society, and violate Germany’s obligations to prohibit discrimination,” the report concluded.

Serdar Yazar, of the Berlin Brandenburg Turkish association (TBB), which helped gather data and parents’ testimonies for the report, was unsurprised by its conclusions, but said that active segregation was a new development.

“This is a new tendency,” he told The Local. “We’ve had a lot of negative references for children of immigrant background who want to go to other schools, but in the last two or three years we’ve had more and more cases of separated classes.”

He cites one particularly well-known case of a primary school in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin.

“There was a parents’ initiative from German parents, who said, ‘We’re worried because our children won’t get a good education, and will have difficulties with the German language. We live in an area with a large number of children with immigrant background. So we have to find a system where there are so-called immigrant classes, and classes with native German speakers.’ And the school directors bowed to their wishes,” Yazar explained.

The NGO found that school directors were creating separate classes – “with preferential conditions, better teachers, and additional learning projects” – specifically to attract ethnic German parents.

The report added that school administrators were colluding with teachers to keep classes closed to children of immigrants, in order to “guarantee” elite groups to ethnic German parents.

The report also made clear that this segregation was helped by Germany’s three-tier education system, which funnels children into either a Gymnasium, Realschule, or Hauptschule straight after primary school.

This system was criticised by the UN two years ago as encouraging “de facto racial segregation.” “The system is still very non-transparent,” said Yazar.

“What we find is that children with immigrant background often don’t find a place in the popular, attractive schools, apparently because of lack of capacity. And a lot of people don’t believe that. There’s a very strongly-felt discrimination, and sometimes evidence for it appears.”

Yazar also thinks the problem is not just confined to Berlin. “I know cases from North Rhine-Westphalia, and I know a few cases from Hamburg too,” he said.

The NGO called on the German government to expand its discrimination laws to include public education, and on teaching authorities to provide additional support for children of immigrant backgrounds to ensure they are integrated into regular classes.

The report was commissioned by the UN for its 106th Human Rights Committee session in Geneva, which runs until November 2.

The Local/bk

when going to the original article you can find a link to the full report:

5 replies

  1. Unfortunately, this is the consequence of too much immigration, where the balance between the natives and newcomers has changed, affecting the whole character of the familiar, along with the educational standards. It is mainly about numbers, the strangers with their different cultures in their midst, and very worrying for the natives, with no easy answers. Unfortunately, as we are aware, this is a problem in most European countries.

  2. Probably it is the first time that any NGO has noticed and told to United Nations Human Rights session in Geneva.
    It is not new but from the beginning when guest workers reached in Germany after world War II workers migrated to participate in the development of German economy. With the passage of the time most of these workers were settled in Germany with their families and they were from Turkey, Spain Italy,. In the primary schools and then in high schools this is a common practice of German teachers that they openly differentiate between the immigrant children and native children. Not in schools only but after finishing school for apprentice ship or for higher education those children who have immigrant back ground are being openly ignored and deprived off. Usually the teachers find out from students name if it appears from Islamic or English christian background and secondly still there exists worst racism, not officially but in the original German mentality who do not want to see any other colored or black origin in their country.

  3. I can see it from the other side. A large influx of foreigners is one problem, then there are those who do not want to assimilate in any way, but create ghettos and many don’t speak English, as is the case here in the UK, where we have places such Banglastan, Bradfordstan, Southall, Leicester, and others. Yes, people have to live somewhere and it is natural to want to live among your own, but there has to be understanding of how that will affect relations with the natives, who have had no say in the matter and have had to see their whole environment change, and usually not for the better. That is not racism, but natural reactions. If it were to happen in Pakistan, there would be similar sentiments from the people there. Migration and immigration has to have limits and be controlled for the sake of all concerned, especially in these strained economic times. I have people from all parts of the world living in my neighbourhood, but they are scattered about, and I enjoy that diversity, but I can still feel that this is England and not some other country, which is the case in many areas. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do see more problems ahead.

  4. Dear Renate Chaudry
    We are discussing about the children education weather a child is from immigrant parents or native parents. Every child has full right to have education as equally as the others children have according to UNO mandate. What you see in form of other side, A large influx of foreigners is not our subject and context. Here is the genuine discriminatory case of German Eduction system which has knocked the doors of U.N.O.

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