In Germany, success in education is primarily a question of social background: whether or not a child is successful in school depends to a major extent on the family into which he or she is born. Children of non-university-educated parents, for example, embark on a university degree noticeably less often than the children of civil servants (despite achieving the same results at school). In this context, it makes no difference whether or not the children are of migrant origin. Young people of migrant origin from socially deprived families face double the burden: they additionally have to battle against the disadvantages that are part and parcel of a migrant background, for example as regards their knowledge of German or their familiarity with the German educational system.
We firmly believe that it is possible for there to be a society in which every child has equal opportunities to a successful path through education, irrespective of his or her background. Everyone in Germany should have the same opportunity to take part in central areas of society’s life. Social and ethnic origin must not be allowed to pose an obstacle to educational success.
One way of assessing equal opportunities and participation is to compare the numbers of people with and without a migrant background who successfully complete a school or university education. There are clear disparities here which reveal just how important our commitment is. Our goal is to reduce by 2025 the inequality in Germany in terms of school and university qualifications achieved by people of migrant origin aged 15 to 30 by 70 percent, based on the 2005 level. As an interim target, we are working to reduce these discrepancies by 30 percent by 2015.
Our work is concentrated on two key areas: the institutional transformation of the educational system and language tuition. We assist schools and universities in implementing the necessary systematic changes to ensure that all children and young people receive equal support, thereby offsetting any disadvantages they may suffer as a result of their background. In the area of language tuition, our goal is to create the prerequisites for targeted language tuition in educational institutions through academic research and training. After all, language proficiency is one of the central requirements for educational success: only a person who has a thorough command of the language used in lessons can learn successfully.