The German education union GEW has placed special focus on the relationship between integration and democracy after hosting its national congress under the slogan “One for all – an inclusive school for democracy.”

The need to place schools at the centre of any inclusion policy was highlighted at the national congress of GEW, a member of Education International (EI), which took place at Frankfurt University at the End of September.

Over 400 participants heard a call for “a common and non-exclusive learning process” when determining education policy. The appeal was made by education specialist Dieter Katzenbach and underscored GEW’s demands for an education system that helps overcome social divisions.

According to statistics, 890,000 asylum seekers arrived in Germany last year.

“Many people do not believe any more in social integration through education,” stressed Ilka Hoffmann, member of the GEW governing body, adding that the role of unions is to “counter this tendency”.

EI: Education at heart of democracy

Education International’s  Deputy General Secretary Haldis Holst presented a keynote speech on the topic of ‘Transformation’. Holst explained EI’s policy regarding a human-rights based inclusion, highlighting the key role played by education in the achievement and incorporation of democratic values in a society. “Democracy is complicated,” she said. “It must be learned. It must be experienced. And learned again.” She firmly placed schools and education at the centre of the “process of learning to live together”.

Holst drew on the OECD Equity and Quality in Education reports to highlight that equity and quality enhance rather than exclude each other. “It is crucial for all actors in the education field to understand how and why inequalities multiply and intersect with each other, leading to the exclusion of already vulnerable children from quality education,” she said, while referring to EI’s Education Policy Paper, which focuses on the intersection of inequalities