FOREIGNER, OUTSIDER OR MIGRANT? PUBLICATION OF STUDY EXAMINING MIGRATION AND INTEGRATION IN TEXTBOOKS

Braunschweig, 17.03 2015. The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI) has conducted a study on the topic of migration and integration in textbooks on behalf of the Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration and in collaboration with the Centre for Educational Integration (ZBI), at the University of Hildesheim,. The report was presented on the 17 March 2015 in Berlin. The study investigated current textbooks for lower secondary schools in the subjects social studies/ politics, history and geography and analysed the challenges and demands of depicting this topic in contemporary textbooks.

The textbook study emphasises the necessity of normalising the heterogeneity resulting from migration and explores the following questions in relation to textbooks: How are migrants portrayed and what perceptions of integration are communicated? Who do textbooks depict as part of our society and who do they exclude?

The 65 textbooks included in the study overwhelmingly portray Germany as a land of net immigration, which people of different origins have made their home. The investigation also showed that in the textbooks analysed the portrayal of migration as a problem was far more common than the depiction of diversity as normality. In social studies and history textbooks, and some geography books, migration is predominantly portrayed as ridden with conflict and crisis

“The study also revealed that no difference is made between terms such as ‘foreigner’, ‘stranger’, ‘migrant’ and ‘people with migration backgrounds’, in fact they are frequently used interchangeably in textbooks. Textbook authors appear not to be mindful enough of the need to treat certain terms with differentiation, reflection and awareness” explains Dr Inga Niehaus, head of the study for the Georg Eckert Institute (GEI)

Textbooks in all three subjects hold integration to be absolutely necessary for social cohesion in societies shaped by immigration; however this point is rarely substantiated. Those with migration backgrounds are expected to adapt to Germany society. The extent to which the state could better support this process is seldom touched upon; government integration policies are generally presented positively.

The findings of the study illustrate the necessity of producing textbooks that are sensitive to diversity and that reflect heterogenity (brought about by migration) and focus on the possibilities this opens up for society.

The textbook study Migration and Integration can be viewed online or ordered as a printed copy at:

 http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/Infomaterial/BPA/IB/Schulbuchstudie_Migration_und_Integration_09_03_2015.html?nn=670290