Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Yet another example of German State hypocrisy

His Excellency, Ambassador Mehmet İrtemçelik
Turkish Embassy, Berlin

Your Excellency,

In light of the current situation in Turkey, where a 17 year old German youth is being held in custody pending his trial on a charge of sexual molestation of a 13 year British girl, I would like to draw your attention to the outrageous hyprocisy of German politicians. I have read that high-ranking German politicians are trying to maintain that your country is apparently out of step with modern Western norms. Mr İrtemçelik, my sympathy is completely with your country in this regard.

Those very politicians who try to force Turkey, and other countries, to act in the manner they desire (although if it was a 13 year German girl who had allegedly been molested by a 17 year old British or Turkish youth, I doubt these politicians would be so fired up), conveniently ignore the fact that Germany itself is totally out of step with the European Union and the rest of the civilised world.

You may or may not be aware that Germany is the only country in Europe in which there is forced school attendance. Although education is a right accorded by the UN Human Rights Convention, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights, Germany is the only country which chooses to interpret this right to education as a right to schooling (i.e. by attendance of a state school or state-approved private school). Not only that, but Germany implements this interpretation by harshly punishing any families who choose to educate their children in a manner which is not in accordance with this interpretation.

For instance, we are an Irish/South African family living temporarily in Germany while my husband, an Aerospace engineer, is working as a subcontractor (known as Leiharbeiter in German) at Airbus in Bremen. We have already endured various moves around the world since my husband started working in this manner nearly 10 years ago. The work is always uncertain and we never know how long we are going to be able to stay in a particular place. In order to ensure educational continuity for our children, as well as an education in our mother-tongue, English, we have chosen to educate them ourselves, a practice which is known as home education or homeschooling.

That this is an acceptable practice is attested to by the fact that the German government has authorised two distance learning institutions, the Deutsche Fernschule and Institut für Lernsysteme (ILS) to provide educational support to Germans living outside Germany who are in the same situation as us. However, the German state refuses to give permission to foreigners living temporarily in Germany to exercise the same option, where they do not have the option of sending their children to an international school or the closest international schools do not meet their children’s specific educational needs. At the moment, our family has filed an official complaint against the school authority of Niedersachsen (the state in which we reside) and we are also dealing with proceedings whereby we have been given notice of fines for educating our children at home.

As foreigners living temporarily in Germany, we are actually being treated relatively lightly. Germans who, in all other European countries, would be regarded as involved parents, who have an active interest in their children’s education, are treated as criminals. The sanctions which have been imposed on them range from fines to penalty payments and even more draconian measures, such as jailing the parents or removing the children from their custody. Dozens of German families have fled to Canada, the USA and other European countries in order to legally home educate their children. Here is a report of what happened to one family who decided to pull one of their children out of the less-than-optimal (for her – all her siblings continued to attend school) school environment and educate her at home so that she could receive one-on-one attention and develop at her own pace:

Mr İrtemçelik, I urge you to take this opportunity to remain assertive with the German government representatives and media who are putting pressure on your government. You can inform them that you are aware of the glass house in which they are so hypocritically living and that they should hold their own country to the same standards that they demand of other countries.

Yours Sincerely,

No comments: