Celebrating Multicultural Education in Austria
Posted by paulipoldie on July 19, 2010
Our Austrian correspondent AMT drew our attention to the following article from Kurier, which features an interview with the director of a multicultural school in Vienna, almost all of whose students are now foreigners.
You’ll notice that the director — despite the fact that 98.5% of the children under her care do not speak German as their native language — still issues the standard Multicultural party line. She takes every opportunity during the interview to celebrate the diversity of her school, as if she were totally unaware of the devastating long-term consequences of eroding the native culture of her city.
Many thanks to JLH for translating it from the German. AMT’s commentary appears at the end of translation:
Multicultural School: “Bring All the Children Into the Boat”
98.5% Foreigners, Only 3 in 200 Children Are Catholic. Now, Straight Talk from the Director of this School in a Kurier Interview
Awarding of certificates at the most cited school in Vienna last Friday. Chechen, Turkish, Chinese, African and Serbian children romp in front of the entrance. One student is leaning against a house wall in a side street, furtively puffing on a cigarette.
Vienna-Brigittenau: In a row here are Café Amor, Pizza Capri, Mek Leskvac Charcoal Grill, Johnny’s Cell Phone Shop. In between is a dart club, as lonesome as the few Austrian passers-by walking Dammstrasse. Of the 200 children in the school at Greiseneckerstrasse 29/1, only three are Roman Catholic — a fact which has caused some uproar in the past weeks. Even Cardinal Christoph Schönborn took the occasion to say some words of warning. The reason: By law, religious instruction only occurs if at least three children participate in it. A close call. The multi-culti school is a drastic example.
Among the directorship, there is a mood contemplating closing the school, but also mild exasperation at the sudden attention. On the wall is a drawing by Anna for the director: “You are the dearest and most beautiful (woman) in the world.”
“This controversy comes to me as the child to the virgin,” laments Ilse Riesinger, head of the truly colorful “Butterfly School,” which has not been an isolated case for some time now. In an interview with the Kurier, the educator spoke of prejudices, parallel societies and why so many different nations in one spot in the “Vienna International School” are chic, and in Wien-Brigittenau are frowned upon.
Kurier: Madame Director, do you understand the excitement that flared up around your school after a newspaper report?
Ilse Riesinger: No, I was horrified! First, it was said that we only had two Roman Catholic children left and religious instruction could not be offered. But that report was in error; there were still three! It would have been nice if we had been contacted, to determine the facts. Now it looks as though we went out with our butterfly net caught a Roman Catholic child somewhere.
Kurier: Don’t take this badly, but a child more or less does not change the fact that, let us say, a great imbalance dominates in your school.
Riesinger: That is true at considerably more schools than ours. This residential area has a great multicultural background. There are Roman Catholic children, Islamic, Serbian Orthodox… Altogether, we have sixteen nationalities: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, China, Pakistan, Somalia, Poland, Germany, Rumania, Philippines, India, Albania, Slovakia, Macedonia
Kurier: How does that affect instruction?
Riesinger: Concerning religious instruction, it is logistically not simple. But we can circumvent the environment. It is sometimes tedious, but where is that not the case? I see it above all as a challenge.
Kurier: Many parents see it as threatening, when the children who cannot speak German are in the majority, which is a polite way of defining 98.5%.
Riesinger: I am happy to invite those parents to come to the school and observe. We make an intensive effort in pre-school to make sure that all children master their mother tongue as well as German. We take that slowly. Because it is our job to bring all children into the boat.
Kurier: And that is not a disadvantage for children who just want to learn?
Riesinger: We complete the same lesson plan as all other schools. To be sure, it is a pedagogical and cultural challenge. But it is also an enormous enrichment for both sides.
Kurier: Why is it fashionable to have so many nationalities in the Vienna International School, but here people wrinkle their noses?
Riesinger: That is due to PR on the one hand, and on other, money. The VIS is sponsored by UNO. The parents have a completely different financial background. Here in Brigittenau, you can have the multicultural environment for free (laughs).
– – – – – – – – –
Kurier: There are nationalities at the VIS and also German-speaking children but more equitably distributed.
Riesinger: Yes, but how are supposed to solve that in Brigittenau? Maybe send a few children to the 13th or 18th district? I don’t think the parents would agree. Although they travel to Turkey and love the country.
Kurier: Are there crosses hanging in your classrooms?
Riesinger: In some yes, in others no. We never talked about that. St. Nicholas visits one year but not another. We have an Advent wreath and have Christmas singing, but also Christmas song from other countries or continents are sung. When so many nationalities are all pulling together, it is lovely.
Kurier: That is certainly a subject of interest to FP party leader Strache. And for many parents, cultural identity is important for their children.
Riesinger: Basically, I don’t listen to what Mr. Strache says. He is always talking about a parallel society. But we here are a together society. We have to integrate and hold together, not discriminate and exclude.
Kurier: So, is the suggestion of Mayor Häupl to create Islamic schools a stupid idea?
Riesinger: I would rather not comment on that.
Kurier: Cardinal Schönborn has warned against a demographic development where religious instruction in Viennese public schools is teetering on the brink.
Riesinger: I understand that the cardinal is concerned. But [religious] instruction is taking place. There is an hour per week out of a total of 22 hours of instruction. Under the cover of religious instruction, it is about something completely different.
Kurier: It is still taking place…
Riesinger: We are trying very hard for a mix. We certainly cannot help the Church more than we now do.
Kurier: Mrs. Riesinger, do you sometimes wish you were in a different district?
Riesinger: Absolutely not. I have been working in Brigittenau for twenty years, first as a teacher, and for six years now as director here at the Butterfly School. I know the realities of life in this district. Schools are a reflection of that and we all have to deal with that, politics as well as society.
Kurier: If you could have a wish for the next school year, what would it be?
Riesinger: More teachers! I still need four teachers. After this summer, three of them are retiring; one of them is going on sabbatical. Maybe as a result of the Kurier report, a few will apply for our school at the Viennese school council, now that it is in the headlines.
Kurier: Speaking of teachers: are you a fan or a foe of the Kurier school attorney?
Riesinger: I regard him with a certain healthy distance. It is fine for every pupil to be represented, but I sometimes have the impression that bad news outweighs other news.
However, perhaps the negative headlines are just the ones we educators notice.
AMT adds these comments:
The establishment must be getting desperate to rein in its disciples: More and more articles are springing up in the Austrian MSM loudly praising the merits of multiculturalism and the need for immigration, without which Austria, as the rest of the Western world, will not survive.
This interview is particularly hard to bear for someone who is not a true believer. It is, above all, interesting to note that the headmistress talks about the difficulties of her own heavily enriched school, especially in view of the required religious instruction, but fails to mention that the Vienna International School (VIS) was built to cater to the needs of the United Nations and embassy personnel in Vienna. It is a non-denominational school, its foremost goal being the integration of students from literally all over the world into an international school system, enabling them to finish their school years, where otherwise most of them would lose a year or two in the “local” school system because of the language barrier. However, each student at VIS must study German. There are no exceptions to this rule.
One another note: the headmistress mentions that she refuses to listen to what FPÖ party leader Heinz-Christian Strache says. Considering that, she appears to know quite well what he says and means. As is usual for the multiculti fanatics, she fails to explain precisely the merits of students being held back because the majority does not speak even rudimentary German. In contrast, nearly all students at VIS speak English. That is an important commonality.
A slightly different version of this post was published in two parts at Big Peace.