8.3.3 Intercultural education
Intercultural education is not an official component of general school education. Nevertheless, as a principle that transcends discipline boundaries, it does play a part in teaching practice. There is furthermore an increasing sensitivity in schools to this issue and, in addition to some provisions for bilingual teaching there are also many projects which make use of the medium of art to address intercultural questions arising in schools.
Intercultural education, in breadth, is carried on primarily by educational institutions (kindergartens, schools, further education establishments). The topic is, however, also gaining importance for cultural policy. Indeed, it is the cultural institutions themselves which are taking the initiative on this issue and are seeking co-operation with schools.
In practice, intercultural programmes are mostly established at the municipal level, mainly in the larger cities. At the Land level, systematic initiatives so far exist only in Northrhine-Westphalia and to some extent in the city states of Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen. At the Federal level, besides provision of funding by the Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes), programmes to counter xenophobia and Right-wing extremism should be mentioned.
The normative framework is provided by the human rights articles established in the Basic Law (Constitution). In the foreground, are aims such as the acknowledgment of difference, development of tolerance, capacity for intercultural dialogue, information about the cultural traditions and values of people of other religions, and the rejection of racism and violence. In the educational institutions' understanding of their role, the command of the German language as "lingua franca" is of crucial importance, in this respect.
Many art and music schools incorporate other cultural traditions and contexts in their work. Art schools for young people take, for example, the immigrant background of their audience as a theme and address it through artistic means. Music schools have courses which promote the teaching of instruments originating in other cultures (e.g. the Turkish long-necked lute). Conceptually, however, inter-culturalism as a part of the general school curricula has only just begun.
All the intercultural programmes and activities mentioned are concerned to develop, through education and meetings, an understanding of other cultural traditions and ways of life, to extend knowledge of fundamental human and civil rights and to make the addressees capable of developing humanitarian and democratic values. Intercultural and democratic skills are mutually dependent in this respect.
Special attention is given to intercultural education, in the context of intensified political efforts to promote practical measures for cultural integration (see chapter 4.1 and chapter 4.2.4). Concrete stipulations are suggested in several education plans for the pre-school range and the primary schools of the individual federal states (Länder). The Deutscher Kulturrat has also elaborated a cultural policy paper named "Interkulturelle Erziehung – eine Chance für unsere Gesellschaft" (Intercultural Education – A Chance for our Society).
For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section.