Ethnic inequality in schools not only affects educational and career paths but also shapes students’ identities and the friendships they forge, according to research by the University of Cologne.
The research, conducted by Dr. Hanno Kruse and Professor Clemens Kroneberg, revealed that ethnic minorities were more likely to identify as German when they attended the German equivalent of a Grammar school — but only in areas where it is uncommon for them to do so.
In contrast, areas where it is common for ethnic minorities to attend Grammar schools, showed that there is no increase in identifying as German because it is not needed to be socially accepted.
“When there is hardly any ethnic diversity at Grammar schools, the traditional German culture seems to dominate, therefore minority youths tend to identify as German because it is relevant to their social integration. Whereas, when schools are diverse, the need to identify as German is not a social requirement,” says Professor Kroneberg.
The research also shows that the number of ethnic minorities is not the only factor, it reveals that Muslim students struggle to identify as German, despite being in ethnically diverse schools.
This is because in Western Europe, Islam has become a highly contentious issue and Muslims face being stereotyped, therefore, they feel like they are not seen as an important part of society.
“The research shows that despite being in a diverse school, ethnic minorities of Muslim background struggled to identify as German and more often remained among themselves,” says Dr Kruse.
The study combined administrative spatial data on all secondary schools in Germany and was published in the American Journal of Sociology.