Migrants as lifelong learners is an untapped potential in Germany. The task is huge, but has a lot of potential benefits.
The issue of immigration has only found political consensus and been acknowledged as a fact over the past few years in the Federal Republic of Germany. Everyone should use this as an opportunity. Activities in migration policy discourse must be able to activate and improve processes of integration. In this respect, continuing education is a decisive component in the social environments of migrants.
"Migration / Integration" is an explosive central topic in society
Nowadays, around 20% of those living in Germany have a migration background, with most of them having permanent residency. Thus, these people are an essential element of the population and a relevant and simultaneously growing factor in German society. However, even after over 40 years of immigration, mutual mistrust and ignorance still arise from the coexistence of the majority with the immigrant minority. So-called "attitude tests for Muslims" or "interview guide for naturalisation applicants" are controversially discussed by the public. As the "migration and integration" issue increases in ambivalence, the deficient perception seems serious in parts of the population in relation to the scope of migration or integration.
The migrant target groups are a relevant factor for continuing education
The immigration society and immigrants can access a multitude of facilities and opportunities in Germany provided these are wanted, targeted or attractive enough, as the migrant target groups are a relevant factor for specific continuing education based on attracting migrants with special activities and options in a variety of educational institutions for integration. Continuing education will only start then for those concerned. However, what has to be considered as the usual communication channels for the native continuing education world do not really extend into migrant backgrounds. Or is the reason for their inaccessibility that there are simply wrong ways to access them. The target group for these learning opportunities is very heterogeneously composed in relation to origin, education, profession and age: Thus, the options, courses and integration projects must also correspond to the most varied of requirements and needs. Many opportunities are concerned with so-called integration mentors, intermediaries and integration ambassadors who should be obtained from the circle of those concerned and who accompany the integration process at key places (schools, churches, districts and associations). These educational possibilities include the social, academic and professional integration of migrants or provide help with the transition from school to higher education, training or a job. Important topics such as democratic practice, participation and active citizenship feature on the next, higher level. The working society's role as well as intercultural and interreligious questions are also discussed. In the course of their integration, those citizens with a migration background pass through stages with various educational requirements so that the concept of lifelong learning experiences quite a causal significance. They are initially involved in the necessary reorientation into day-to-day work and identity processes. This means that the related help and opportunities have highly activating elements or transfer everyday knowledge.
The demand for language or support courses somewhat parallel to obtaining German citizenship is a priority. Opportunities for open politico-social continuing education only become interesting after securing their livelihood and professional integration. The development of practical possibilities for action (e.g. intercultural conflict resolution), the ability to activate and improve processes of integration and the transition from "passive knowledge" to "active commitment" will then follow later. The Association of Catholic Social Training Centres (AKSB) can map out and cover the various learning needs in each stage through the diversity of its members who are integrated into networks and groups themselves. In this respect, a local positioning of the educational institutions which can currently respond to the respective target group in its social environment has proven itself. The Institute for Migration and Resettling Issues at the Heimvolkshochschule St. Hedwigshaus e.V. adult education centre with boarding facilities in Oerlingshausen particularly addresses immigrants and ethnic German resettlers who show an interest in integration, Germans to familiarise them with the aspects of migration and skilled employees to qualify them for employment in integration and migration work. The issue of "migration / integration" is and remains an explosive central topic in society and thus needs to exploit the demographic vitality of the new citizens for the benefit of the country.
(InfoNet - Stefan Baumeister)