The Berlin refugee council has criticised the opening of a special school for asylum seekers who have little to no education saying that keeping them separate from other students is like “apartheid”.
The Berlin government plans to create the new school for asylum seekers in the Schöneberg district of the German capital and will be housed in an unused school building. The facility will teach 220 students who are seen as having poor educational backgrounds and poor German language skills aged 15 and 16 with each class consisting of around 20 students, Tagesspiegel reports.
The rationale behind establishing the school is that the migrant children, many of whom live in the large asylum centre at the former Tempelhof airport, will get specialised lessons rather than fall behind in regular school. The project was announced in an email which said the migrants would be kept together because it simply was not possible to send them to lower grades among younger children for “educational reasons”.
The left wing, pro-migrant activist organisation “Schöneberg Helps” said the new school would stand in the way of integration efforts. The organisation’s spokesman and former Green Party State Secretary for Education Hans-Jürgen Kuhn said the idea was potentially “explosive”.
Norbert Gundacker of the local school council agreed with the criticism saying the migrants would have “no chance to meet someone from our society”, and called the project, “absolute segregation”.
Politicians on the right largely supported the idea with Hildegard Bentele, of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), saying the young asylum seekers needed language skills and education before being able to fully participate in regular classes.
Libertarian-leaning Free Democratic Party (FDP) education spokesman Paul Fresdorf also agreed with the idea but said classes of 20 students should have two teachers.
The education of asylum seekers has been a difficult issue for many European countries who have taken in large numbers of people from countries like Afghanistan where the education standard is particularly low in rural areas.
In Austria, a high school teacher warned that migrant children were becoming a “lost generation” due to their inability to learn German and poor educational backgrounds. The teacher said that many of her migrant pupils could barely read or write and some had trouble with basic mathematics.
The effect of poor education will, according to economists, mean that many migrants in Germany will either be unemployable or will work menial labour jobs. One study showed that mass migration was actually harmful to long-term economic growth.