Thursday, September 10, 2015

Germany and Refugee Students

The German news magazine 'Focus' did a fairly good article today (by Kerstin Kotlar) over the immigration situation and school kids.  Concise, to the point, and blunt.

Right one in the German government is talking numbers.  Education experts outside of the German government are talking roughly 150,000 to 200,000 kids will be entering the school system in the next couple of months.

What teachers are already saying.....these transitional classes which center on language and getting a kid integrated into the German school system are usually successful....but it's overloaded.   Schools built the original system to handle X number of kids, and it's already beyond that point, and will get worse as time goes by unless major changes occur quickly.

Then Focus centered on the big issue.....schools simply don't have an unlimited number of people to draw upon for teaching, psychologists, or interpreters.

The German education system was developed and built around a stable hiring environment and having just enough new teachers around to fit into the retirement cycle.  The university system was built to suddenly shift 4th year students around and fit them into a teacher's job in twelve months.

When my son was going through the German system.....they had one social work guy in the whole school.....the psychologist so to speak.  The guy was overwhelmed and doing the best he could, but half the kids who needed some focus were simply slipping through the cracks.

As for interpreters, there might be a fair number of refugees who passed into the system back two years ago and would be willing to hire for some hours per day as an interpreter, but most will admit they aren't anything much beyond that (mentor-types, tutors, etc).  If the Germans did create these'd all be part-time work.....a dozen-odd hours a week, but I would imagine every community could find people to fill the job.

The biggest challenge?  You have a lot of kids who haven't spent an hour in school for two years..  The civil war and the refugee period stalled their educational phase.  So, to get them back into a focused need enthusiastic teachers and tutors.  This type of rare enthusiasm won't be easily found.  

The short term fix?  I'm guessing a number of teachers who've retired in the past five years will be asked to come back for a year or two.  But this phase that people are looking at.....could end up going on for several years.

Maybe among these Syrians.....are probably a couple hundred instructors/teachers, and some smart German bureaucrat will craft some emergency measure to grant them teaching privileges and some type of at least use them as tutors and temporary teachers until they get a full certificate.  Hopefully some HR-type folks are in the visa approval system who will ask these stupid questions and ID the right people for quick integration and language classes.

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