The relationship between the formal education systems of Northern Europe and children with immigrant backgrounds has long been a topic of political and professional debate – but the German weekly Die Zeit has an interesting surprise waiting for us in the latest edition.
If you (i.e. I) was asked to guess off the cuff which group of children performed worst in the German system chances are, that you would point to children of Turkish (and Kurdish) parents. Peasant background, Islamic traditionalism, the lot.
Except that children of Italian migrants are the one at the bottom of the scale in Germany. And this gets all the more intriguing as their Spanish counterparts perform much better – both groups are Catholic and originally came from rural areas but have completely different ways of reacting to formal education.
Just to make things even more confusing, research on UK data points to some complex relations between level of education and level of integration for people with a Muslim immigrant background.
There is still work to do for educational researchers, political scientists, sociologists and economists.