Friday, March 31, 2017

Germany and This Integration Stumbling Block

I noted one of the better reports that ARD (public-TV channel One in Germany) has done in recent times.  Over the past week, a major German government audit agency came out with a pretty hard-hitting negative report on integration, the language schools, and the lack of success that they see.

It's worth reading....but I'll limit myself to discussing three aspects of the ARD report.

1.  Before the 2014 to now era of immigration one in the state or federal government of Germany really cared that much about the whole process of integration.  There might have been speeches given or some pep-talk by some government representative....but that didn't really change much of anything.

Once the full force of the million-plus migrants and immigrants came onto the scene.....all of these regional offices were given orders....bulk up on language and integration instructors.  Well....they did the HR routine....found some university degree folks, and hired them.  They put some of them through a certification process, and then started teaching classes.

The audit came to realize that it was more of 'hit-and-miss' with this HR method of recruitment, and that a fair number of these people aren't instructors by profession.  Some might have been grade-school teachers before.  Some might have been accountants.  Some might have social workers by their profession.

Criticism is probably deserved, but one ever expected to be told to bulk up in a hurry and have instructors carrying out the job in less than a year.  So, they've done the best they could....with what they have.

2.  There's this reality....a fair number of the immigrants aren't as gifted or qualified as some might expect.  Some have never studied a foreign language in their life.  Some have never been in a structured university-like setting.  The audit guys kinda figured this out.

Three years ago, I sat in a German class with a Chinese guy who was a cook.  My best guess was that other than basic school, and Chinese military boot-camp....this type of class environment was all new to him.  He was one of those guys that a tutor on the side three or four times a week would have helped a great deal.  This past year, I sat in a class with a fairly educated Syrian gal....who had some usage of English and been a teacher to some degree in Syria.  She was another person who would have been greatly by a tutor a couple of times a week on top of the regular class.  Sadly....the system isn't built for that type of extra help or tutoring.

3.  It was a fairly damning report by the audit folks....who basically hint that bits and pieces of this whole mechanism are working as intended, but it's just not a program that you'd want to brag about.

But I think they miss the achievement of this.  Five years ago....Germany had what you'd call a simple and marginalized program to meet the basic needs of a very limited group of 'customers'.  Almost overnight, they've done something that typically doesn't occur in German society....they built a huge vehicle with lots of parts, and simply put it on the autobahn "as-is".

Maybe if they'd had really clever bosses at the top when they started.....or had this vast number of people with the right'd all be different.  But when you start a poker game with a hundred dollars in your's going to be nickles, dimes and quarters that you end betting on for the majority of the game.

Oddly....I read through the whole report that ARD wrote of the critical survey by the audit agency.  It only covers the adult side of this picture.  Yeah....they didn't want to cover school kids who are immigrants.  My guess is that it'd be an awful woeful tale that would make some political folks very nervous about the school system failures, and the future being drawn out.

In some ways, the German integration guys should pat themselves on the back because they made something out of nothing in a remarkable short period of time.  But to turn this into a smooth-running machine?  Man, that could take another decade and a billion Euro a year on top of the current expenditures.  Do Germans have the patience to make this work right?

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