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Does Vernor Muñoz need to speak German?

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In February, Vernor Muñoz , the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the right to education, repeated his criticism of Germany’s educational system of last year.
He explained that children of migrants were looked at in connection with their migration background in the first place, and as children only in the second, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung online edition.
He also said that he was still waiting for an answer to his 2007 report. There, he had reported to the UN General Assembly that the German school system disadvantages children of low socio-economic backgrounds, in particular, the children of immigrants – both the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung report and an American Library of Congress document refer to this statement.

Heike Schmoll, a specialist in German studies, a theologian, and a critic of educational politics at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, is apparently not amused.

“Brazen and dishonest” is her verdict on Muñoz. He had only taken a cursory look on Germany’s system, she is quoted by Die Zeit from Hamburg, and that he was a representative of the international “comprehensive school cartel”. Last but not least: Muñoz “barely speaks German”.
Die Zeit seems to have had a good laugh when noting Schmoll’s findings about the special representative’s language skills. “If only he had gone to school in Germany, one is tempted to add.”
Die Zeit then quotes a particularly mean (but funny) comment by the Süddeutsche Zeitung from Munich: “UN representatives are used to dealing with unreasonable politicians. Potentates of shady regimes don’t like to be exposed to the international community. Unfortunately, Germany is acting like a rogue state which doesn’t want to listen to the UN. “That comment from Munich strikes home”, comments Die Zeit.

To be fair to the public, many people outside the editorial departments in Germany wouldn’t agree with Muñoz’ critics, either.
Federal education minister Anette Schavan, in 2006, promised that “our education system will change so that all pupils can decide on their school careers at every age”. (The question today is: where is the answer to Muñoz report, two years later?) Also, as soon as in February 2006, German parents organizations welcomed Munoz’s visit and said that hints from outside were needed at this stage.

Yes, they are needed. What we do not need are philistine comments from our national upper classes, who apparently fear the mere mention of comprehensive schools more than the snafu.


Written by taide

March 25, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Posted in education

Tagged with , , , ,

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