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Practical obstacles and evidence of problems and differential enrollment rates for migrants?

Key Area:
Discrimination, Equality
24/01/2013 - 12:45
Short Answer


Qualitative Info

In the German school system, the first selection in separate educational tiers takes place after four years. This is seen as a factor which hampers students whose mother tongue is not German to enter higher educational tiers. The result is an overrepresentation of migrants in the lower educational stratum. The early selection in different educational tiers has also been criticised by the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism [2, p. 19].

In general, foreign pupils are underrepresented in the higher secondary education (´Gymnasium`, ´Realschule`) and at the same time overrepresented in lower education (´Hauptschule`, ´Förderschule`) and in evening classes as well as integrated comprehensive schools.
Kindergartens, schools and other institutions of education exert a significant influence in the way they are dealing with persons of different social backgrounds. Because of their institutional structure, programmes, underlying rules, ways of communication and routines, these institutions can contribute to the manifestation of social differences in levels of education and in access to higher levels of education [1].

The Bertelsmann Foundation evaluated Germany’s integration policy in a study in 2011. It found deficits, inter alia, in the area of education, and criticised especially the unequal burden to access the education system. Success in education is significantly dependent on the origin and social status of the child [3, p. 9-10].

In another study conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation on the change of an already chosen school form it is stated that pupils of lower social groups and especially with a migration background are negatively affected by the educational system in two ways: first, they are less likely to participate in higher school tracks. Secondly, they are more likely to be “downgraded” in regard to changes from a higher to a lower school track [5].

According to the umbrella anti-discrimination organisation advd (Antidiskriminierungsverband Deutschland), more than 10 per cent of all registered discrimination complaints refer to the area of education. Other organisations, such as AMIGRA (anti-discrimination department within the Munich municipality), or the Berlin anti-discrimination body LADS (Landesstelle für Gleichbehandlung – gegen Diskriminierung) observe an increase in discrimination in the area of education [2, p. 18].


  1. Migazin (2010), Institutionelle Diskriminierung im Bildungs- und Erziehungssystem, 22.04.2010,, Accessed on 16.01.2012.
  2. Peucker, Mario (2010), Racism and Ethnic Discrimination in Germany Update Report 2010,, Accessed on 09.02.2012.
  3. Schraad-Tischer, D., Hellmann, T., Azahaf, N., Schwarz, R. (2011), Nachhaltiges Regieren in der OECD – Wie zukunftsfähig ist Deutschland? Sustainable Governance Indicators 2011, Gütersloh, Bertelsmann Stiftung,, Accessed on 07.09.2011.
  4. Siegert, Manuel (2008), Schulische Bildung von Migranten in Deutschland, Working Paper 23, der Forschungsgruppe des Bundesamtes aus der Reihe „Integrationsreport“,, Accessed on 16.01.2010.
  5. Schulformwechsel in Deutschland (2012):, Accessed on 10.01.2013.
Groups affected/interested Migrants
Type (R/D)
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Education
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