Institute of European Ethnology
Migration Power(s) School. “School Analogue Tuition for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees“
For the year 2011 the Federal association of unaccompanied minor refugees, states 34.000 school-aged teens living in Germany. All of them without a secure residence permit status. Labeled as unaccompanied minor refugees, for them neither a unitary regulation of school attendance exists nor are there any obligatory language classes in schools. The Bavarian state for example offers school attendance, if they are younger than 16. But there are hardly any offers for a continuing school attendance. School attendance according to the German law ends at the age of 16. So especially for the ones between 17 and 25 there is hardly any access to education at all. The so-called “Residenzpflicht” restricts in plus free choices of e. g. apprenticeship training positions.
Munich in the year 2000: Michael Stenger, who is one of the founders of the “Bayerischer Flüchtlingsrat”, launched together with the “Trägerkreis junge Flüchtlinge e. V.” a small language course project called “SchlaU – schulanaloger Unterricht für junge Flüchtlinge”, based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 2004 the project that today is a so-called “additional school” to the state school system offers its pupils if necessary alphabetization, classes for German as a foreign language and preparation classes for the Certificate of Secondary Education, called “erfolgreicher Hauptschulabschluss” and “Qualifizierender Hauptschulabschluss”. This school year (2012/2013) 200 Pupils are taught by 20 teachers in eleven classes, supported by a team of social education workers and by numerous volunteers, who offer for example private lessons in the afternoon.
The PhD project “Migration Power(s) School. ‘School Analogue Tuition for Unaccompanied Minor Refugees’“ is a cultural anthropological contribution to the interdisciplinary school and education research, that is especially linked to debates on “asylum” and “integration” in the qualitative migration research. With the focus on the sketched “SchlaU Schule” the PHD project is asking: How is school as a social space developing beyond the state school system and within the context of integration and asylum debates? And which impact does this have on the shaping of teaching and learning persons and their practices? To answer these questions it is assumed that school has to be treated as a discoursive space, which itself is the result of various discourses, processes of knowledge transfer and action. It is assumed furthermore that this special constellation forms different subjects of teaching and learning persons. Therefore the research design is conceptualized as an empirical school research that is based on Adele E. Clark’s concept of situational analysis. In comparison to most school ethnographies, that work inside the school building as such, the project operates as a second with the concept of a multisited ethnography (George E. Marcus) that takes the school as starting point.
The special relevance of this study lies therefore in the perspective that treats school not as a closed, holistic universe but as a dynamic network of knowledge and practices. The school as such has to be seen moreover as a new phenomenon in the German educational landscape and therefore as an expression of social processes of transformation referring to discourses about refugees and education. Contrary to previous studies not only one group of actors like the pupils and also not only the form of organization is going to be focused. With the concept of this study it will be possible to analyze heterogeneities and different layers in the process of school development and to write against the simple dualistic bondage of school and building. Against a reaffirmation of the unaccompanied minor refugee, what can be seen in many publications, and against an essentialist meaning of culture referring to “we” and “the others” the creation of different forms of reality, belonging and distinction is going to be shown; also in order to confront school as institution from a postcolonial perspective with its practices and responsibilities.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Johannes Moser