Refugees in the German School System (September 2016 – March 2018)

The German school system is facing an extraordinary challenge in integrating well over 100,000 children and teenagers who have sought asylum since the summer of 2015. Despite the remarkable efforts of teachers, school administrators, and policy-makers, many young refugees are unable to access a nearby school within the three months set forth by European Union law.

Once in school, refugees are often taught in separate classrooms first in order to help them achieve a basic command of the German language before joining their peers in the general education classroom. While this practice has been criticized for hampering academic progress and the social integration of refugees, proponents point to the necessity of ‘safe spaces’ where students can learn the language and adjust to their new environment.

To find out more about the pros and cons of different instructional models for refugees, the Expert Council’s Research Unit set out to conduct field research in five of the country’s 16 states (Länder): Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, Hesse, Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia. The exploratory project sought to shed light on the plethora of instructional models currently in use to teach refugees. Furthermore, the Research Unit planned to investigate instances of in-school segregation and teachers’ experiences with the newly arrived students.

The project was funded by Stiftung Mercator. The results were published in March 2018.



Dead End Schools? Refugees at Segregated Schools in Germany


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