Germany's CSU and CDU want 'values' taught to refugee children in schools – report

Senior German conservatives want to set up new "values lessons" for refugee children in German schools, according to a newspaper report. The standards are to be held above cultural or religious views.

German conservatives are set to push for new lessons that would teach both German language and values to children of refugees, the Rheinische Post newspaper reported in its Monday edition.

Learning German | 03.05.2018

According to the report, senior lawmakers from the ruling CDU and CSU parties have prepared a draft document on the so-called "values lessons" in schools. The children would learn about issues such as the rule of law, gender equality, and the state monopoly on the use of force.

"The integration of those who can stay in Germany is a priority issue, not least in order to preserve peace in our society," says the draft report cited by the paper. "The goal of these lessons should be to allow refugees to learn about our values and the rule of law, and, at the same time, teach them the limits and duties of our legal system."

Read more: More than half of migrants reported to fail official German test

The paper is due to be presented in Frankfurt on Monday, where the heads of the parliamentary groups of the CSU and CDU in Germany's state and federal legislatures are set to meet.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also expected to attend.

Values over culture and religion

The values to be discussed in the proposed classes, such as gender equality, press freedom, and protection of human dignity should "stand as indispensable values above divergent cultural or religious views," the draft says.

The idea of "values lessons" was floated last month by Bavarian Premier Markus Söder from the CSU and by his Hesse counterpart, Volker Bouffier, from the CDU. Talking to the German Spiegel magazine, Bouffier said that a similar integration project has been employed in refugee centers for the last two years.

Read more: Many more family members join refugees in Germany

"The project is very successful," he told the magazine. "That is why we want to use this experience and expand the classes in the upcoming legislative term."

Both Bavaria and Hesse are set to hold state elections in October.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Refugees head to language school

A new language and alphabet are among the chief challenges awaiting asylum seekers arriving in Germany. Most need help, at least to get started. The good news on this day, however, is that they can leave their satchels, their exercise books, and even their teachers behind - it's time to hit the streets and learn proactively.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Appetite for learning

The ACB Lingua language school's new "Integration Course" is aimed at recent arrivals. The school sent students on a "treasure hunt" to teach them about Bonn, and to get students to try out some German with strangers. Task 1: "Go to the market - find this stall - what types of fruit and vegetables does it sell?"

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Teaching aids

Do you know the German for "pineapple?" While French and Italian-speakers have no excuse for getting the wrong answer, the students, most of whom speak Arabic, had a harder time. Thankfully clues abound! The team DW accompanied seemed keen for bonus points; they noted down prices, too, though that information was not required.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Cheating? More like a shortcut

Students were urged not to use their phones and to ask people in German for directions and information instead. However, on finding a passer-by who spoke both German and Arabic, the temptation was too great. Bassam (holding the paper) was kind enough to talk the team through several sentences they couldn't understand.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

'When was Beethoven born?'

Ludwig van Beethoven is arguably Bonn's most famous native. The house where he was born, near the city-center marketplace, serves as a small museum. Radwan Ajouz and his son Ali, originally from Aleppo in Syria, work on their next task. They find magic number: 1770.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Pick up the pace

Bonus points were on offer for groups that completed the treasure hunt the fastest - with competitors keeping a keen eye on the clock. Still, within around two hours, the tour took them to a string of places they're likely to visit again. One question asked them to find out and note down the opening hours of Bonn's foreign nationals' office (Ausländeramt).

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Getting around town

"Go to Friedensplatz," the team's instructions say, pointing them to another major square in central Bonn. "What is the final destination for bus number 608, and when will the next one arrive?" The 608 also stops fairly close to the Paulus-Heim in Bonn - a former old people's home converted into a refugee shelter, where many in the class live.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Staff coffee break

Next stop: the city library. There, students should find books in Arabic, Persian or Kurdish, and ask for information on what paperwork they need to borrow books. However, on entry, our reporter was distracted by the sight of the class' teachers chatting over coffee - while their charges did all the hard graft! One of them proudly scrolls through photos of other recent class outings.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Greetings from Bonn!

"Sit down somewhere," and write a postcard, the class was told, nearing the end of their assignment. "Go to the main post office, buy a stamp and send the postcard. Keep your receipt for the stamp." Another means of communication unlocked - though the task of buying the right stamp for a postcard was a challenge.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Waiting for the stragglers

This was a longer lesson than usual - with some teams needing more time than others. Early finishers, though, had a game of Pictionary awaiting them: draw something on the board, and whoever names it first (in German, of course!) gets the pen. This game showed quite a gulf between the students; some couldn't contribute, the more advanced were even getting the right genders for the nouns.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Points mean prizes

ACB Lingua's Alev Erisöv-Reinke had laid on rewards for the groups who scored best on her fact-finding mission around the heart of Bonn. Our team didn't quite make the top three - quite possibly because they were handicapped by a chatty reporter, who was also under orders not to help.

Refugees learn by doing on German language course in Bonn

Victory from jaws of defeat

A surprise to end the day: a bonus prize does go to Radwan Ajouz after all, as the oldest competitor to finish the challenge. Ajouz was all smiles throughout the exercise, shouting "Foto! Foto!" (photo) at all and sundry on DW's behalf, after realizing our need to ask permission. His wife and four of his children are still in Lebanon, having fled Syria.

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dj/ng (Reuters, AFP, dpa, KNA, epd)