German interior minister pledges to improve Turkish integration

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is calling for greater efforts in integrating Germany's immigrant communities, in particular those of Turkish origin, in a newspaper article to be published Monday.

"The linguistic integration, especially of citizens of Turkish origin, must be improved", Schaeuble wrote for Monday's edition of the Hamburger Abendblatt, dpa reports.

"We need more intensive pre-school preparation for children of migrants, so they can use education as an opportunity," the interior minister wrote.

Figures released last week showed that Germany's population of Turkish descent is poorly integrated, compared to other immigrant groups.

Education, considered a key indicator of integration, shows significantly low results for Turks or Germans of Turkish origin.

Around 30 per cent have no school leaving qualification whatsoever, and just 14 per cent have passed university entrance level exams, less then half the average of their German counterparts.

These results, Schaeuble said, couldn't be ignored.

School leaving certificates and vocational training were preconditions for social participation, and thus for the unity and cohesion of our society, the interior minister wrote.

During the economic boom of the 1950s, large numbers of Turks were invited to work in Germany, on the understanding that these so-called "guest workers" would one day return home.

Instead, their families followed. Numbering 2.8 million people, Germany's Turkish population is now one of the country's largest immigrant groups.

The low socioeconomic standing of the Turkish labourers, coupled with their large presence in Germany, reduced the impetus for Turkish families to adapt to Germany, learn the language or value their children's education, according to last week's report.

Schaeuble expressed support for a rigorous discussion about integration. "That counts for the recognition of the many achievements of immigrants, as well as a serious discussion about the deficits of integration."

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