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Arrived? ReGES Final Conference Presents Findings on the Integration of Refugees

The project "ReGES - Refugees in the German Educational System" accompanies more than 4,800 children and young people with a refugee background on their way into and through the German educational system. At the final conference of the project at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) at the end of May, findings on conditions for success and obstacles from several years of ReGES-research and other studies from the research context of education and flight were presented. The two-day conference was not only aimed at researchers, but also at representatives from educational policy and administration as well as practitioners. With more than 200 participants, the opportunity for exchange between research and practice was well received.

At the opening of the conference, project manager Dr. Jutta von Maurice thanked all those involved in the project, in particular the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as project sponsor. She also emphasized that a study such as ReGES could never have been realized without the support of the ministries of education of the states involved in the surveys as well as many full-time and voluntary workers in the 120 cities and communities drawn. Her special thanks went to the refugee families themselves, who placed their trust in the ReGES team in a special way through their willingness to participate.

In her welcoming address, LIfBi Director Prof. Dr. Cordula Artelt emphasized the importance of studies such as ReGES as a supplement to the surveys of the National Educational Panel (NEPS) - this is the only way to gain insights into special population groups that cannot be adequately represented in the NEPS. Government Director Katrin Wery, representing the BMBF, appreciated the intensity with which ReGES had entered the field and announced that the results of the study would find their way into the German government's National Action Plan on Integration.

Selected findings of the ReGES team were published in the transfer report 
"LIfBi Forschung kompakt: Geflüchtete Kinder und Jugendliche im deutschen Bildungssystem – Zentrale Befunde der Studie ReGES"
compiled by Dr. Jutta von Maurice and Dr. Gisela Will, which was published on May 21, 2021.

Thematically oriented to the educational process, five sessions, each with four presentations, as well as six poster presentations presented results on various aspects that come into play in the integration of refugees into the German education system and are based on very different methodological approaches. Starting with early childhood and family education, obstacles and conditions for successful school integration and the transition from school to vocational training and ending with the topic of German as a key competence.

Here you can find the Conference Programm and the Abstractbook.

In two keynote lectures, the topic of integration in the German education system was embedded in larger and international contexts. In her lecture, Prof. Dr. Claudia Diehl from the University of Konstanz shed light on the significance of the current debate on racism for educational research. She sees a growing discrepancy between the social relevance of the debate about structural racism in particular and the empirical-analytical approaches of educational research and posed the question: Do educational researchers lose sight of important aspects by assuming a too narrow concept of racism?

In her keynote address, Prof. Dr. Lori Wilkinson from the University of Manitoba (Canada) outlined the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the education of children and young people with a refugee background in Canada. She placed the refugee influx in Canada in the broader context of international refugee movements and made clear that the difficulties already encountered in the educational integration of refugees are further exacerbated by the pandemic, citing low English language skills and lack of Internet access as examples.

The final discussion then revisited key points from the two days of the conference. The main focus here was on the importance of German language skills and the influence of social resources. In broad discussions that dissolved the boundaries between science, administration and practice, the great importance of such an exchange and the usability of the findings presented on the two conference days were also emphasized for practice. A necessary paradigm shift in the integration debate was also called for: Instead of talking about deficits, in the future there should be more and stronger discussion about conditions for success. The results of the ReGES study are an outstanding example of educational research designed in this way.  

The conference was accompanied by means of graphic recording. This graphic documentation by Britta Mutzke can be found here.


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