A senior German academic has joined the chorus of voices expressing concern over the low educational standards of newly arriving migrants, and the significant knock-on effects that is bound to have on the German educational system.
President of the University of Hamburg and chairman of the German Educational Action Council Dieter Lenzen has pointed to the enormous cost of teaching hundreds of thousands of newcomers basic language skills, pointing in particular to the Syrian community. While the proportion of Syrians arriving and claiming to have university degrees — around 15 per cent — isn’t much below the German population as a whole, the vast majority of the remaining 85 per cent are in a significantly worse state, unable even to perform basic tasks like reading a bus timetable.
Outlining the scale of the challenge and the lack of ability of most Syrians arriving in Europe, President Lenzen said: “the problem is the 65 per cent of an age group that can operate only on reading comprehension level one by the PISA test”, reports N24.
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test is a standard form of measuring intellectual ability and at level one suggests that the majority of Syrian “refugees” are unable to complete “basic reading tasks” such as “Locating straightforward information” or “Making low-level inferences”.
President Lenzen told media he estimated around two thirds of these arrivals had no qualifications at all from their home nation. He estimated giving migrants German lessons to get them to a point where they could become productive members of society would cost some €80,000 a year for a class of 25, with classes needed for some two and a half years.
In expressing his concern, President Lenzen is affirming the statement in December of Munich University professor Ludger Wößmann, who said:
“We have to prepare ourselves for the fact that the majority of young refugees will fail a three-year full time training course with a high proportion of theoretic content. According to the Chamber of Commerce of Munich and Upper Bavaria, 70 per cent of trainees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq who started lessons more than two years ago have already dropped out”.
Referring to a 2011 educational study conducted in Syria, the professor said 65 per cent of 18 year-olds in the country lacked “basic skills” and were therefore “functionally illiterate”, compared to just 16 per cent in Germany.
Even these shock figures are reasonably generous compared to the internal figures of the German government, which were leaked at the end of 2015. The internal paper from the Federal Employment Agency suggested 81 per cent of migrants to Germany were unskilled, and just eight per cent had academic qualifications of any kind.
Projecting their own likely spending, the agency estimated the migrant influx would lead to Germany taking on hundreds of thousands of new benefit claimants.