The German Integration Panel - How to measure the influence of integration courses on migrants´ integration?
Referat 222 Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) Nürnberg, Germany
In 2005, the German government introduced integration courses as a means for migrants to improve their German skills and thereby also their general integration into the German society, thus hoping to avoid the formation of parallel societies. Participation in these integration courses is obligatory for all new immigrants from third countries with insufficient German skills. For EU-migrants as well as foreigners with long-term residency in Germany participation is voluntary. Since 2005, about 600.000 migrants have been granted the right to take part in an integration course. Yet the question remains, to which degree and in which way course participation fosters the participants´ further integration.
This paper presents the methodological challenges that had to be overcome while establishing the German Integration Panel, a longitudinal survey aiming at analysing not only the efficiency and sustainability of integration courses but also the general integration processes. Among the key issues of this survey was its global design, especially the composition and accessibility of a control group of non-course participants that is needed to classify course effects and monitor basic integration processes. Another challenge was to find a way of surveying heterogeneous groups of participants that was not only suitable for different cultures but also for marginal subjects. Among them illiterates, who are learning in parallel German as well as reading and writing for the first time in their lives. The assessment of German language skills in a comparative way throughout the whole integration process without having the opportunity of employing an extensive test of these skills, constituted another obstacle that had to be dealt with.
With regard to all these challenges, it will be discussed which decisions were taken in order to conduct a survey leading to authoritative results concerning obstacles and facilitations in the integration processes of culturally different migrant groups into German society. Additionally, first key results of the survey will be presented.