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Germans encouraged to learn Arabic as migrants struggle with employment

Earlier this month the German Employment Agency in Halle began adult education classes in Arabic, to help Muslim migrant parents with little knowledge of German to understand their children's options for education or vocational training.

Published: March 17, 2017, 9:38 am

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    Currently more than 300 000 asylum seekers in Germany are under the age of 18 and last year, Thomas Strothotte, a German-Canadian professor of Computer Science and President of Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg, pointed out.

    Strothotte suggested that not only should refugees learn German, but German children should have the opportunity to learn Arabic as well.

    “As a Canadian citizen who has been living in Germany since 1985 and has played a major role in the establishment of two bilingual schools, I see this above all as an opportunity for a new model of school education,” Strothotte remarked in an opinion piece in the German newspaper, Die Zeit.

    He believes German and Arabic should be mandatory subjects for children until their final high school exams prior to graduation.

    “Thereby, we acknowledge that we are a country of immigration and a multilingual society,” Strothotte explained.

    In 2015, Germany’s Commissioner for Integration Aydan Ozoguz suggested that German Chancellor Angela Merkel should give her New Year address to the nation with Arabic subtitles, so that newly-arrived migrants and refugees can understand her speech.

    The drive to encourage Germans to learn Arabic, is linked to current poor migrant employment figures. Germany’s Federal Employment Agency has set itself an ambitious target to employ half of all refugees within the next five years.

    Within 15 years, it wants 70 percent of refugees to have found an occupation, but between December 2015 and November 2016, only 34 000 asylum seekers out of almost 2 million could find work.

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