15. June 2016

Making a success of integration through education

The integration of refugees and people with a migration background is one of the main challenges faced by Germany today. The education system plays an important role in this process: Education is a key factor for individual and professional success as well as for participation in society.

To assess the state of the German education system and promote its reform, the Bavarian Industry Association (vbw) has brought together a committee of education experts, the Action Council on Education (“Aktionsrat Bildung”), in 2005.

On May 3, 2016, the vbw hosted a conference to present the Council’s latest report called Integration through Education. Migrants and Refugees in Germany.

In its report, the Action Council addresses the challenge of integrating refugees by looking at existing findings on people with a migration background – from preschool stage to higher education.

The report calls for the development and implementation of a “master plan for educational integration”, and offers advice to all the responsible actors in the education system.

The perspective of business

Bertram Brossardt, Chief Executive Officer of the vbw, said at the launch event that the integration of refugees and migrants can only succeed if they gain access to education or employment. While companies are determined to shoulder their part, addressing the refugee challenge remains a task for society as a whole.

Bavaria can set an example, for instance, by extending the compulsory attendance of vocational schools to the age of 21. In addition, measures such as shortened two-year apprenticeships and the acceptance of partial qualifications should be supported and used more widely. This would facilitate access to the labor market for refugees and people with a migration background.

Brossardt also called for the further expansion of all-day schooling in Bavaria. He stressed that they have a great potential in supporting refugees and migrants to learn a language, integrate into society and understand the culture. This should be combined with better training for teachers, for instance improving their intercultural skills.

Panel discussion: Making integration through education a success

Representatives from academia, politics and business then discussed the central findings and recommendations of the report in a panel discussion. The participants addressed legal requirements, the assessment of invididual education competency levels, education counselling, language learning, the mandatory attendance of schools and vocational schools as well as access to education and employment. The discussion was attended by:

  • Dr. Claudia Bogedan, President of the Standing Conference of Education Ministers (“Kultusministerkonferenz”) and Senator for Youth and Education, Bremen
  • Herbert Püls, Head of Department for Education and Culture in the Bavarian State Ministry for Education, Science and the Arts
  • Prof. Dr. Dieter Lenzen, Chair of the Action Council on Education and President of the University of Hamburg
  • Dr. Christof Prechtl, Executive Director and Head of the Education Department of the Bavarian Industry Association (vbw)

You can download the full version of the report Integration through Education. Migrants and Refugees in Germany at the following link (in German language).

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Michael Lindemann

Vorschule, Schule, Projekte und Aktionsrat Bildung

Michael Lindemann
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