In August Hannelore Kraft, prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, stated in an interview: “We know that many will stay forever.” Independent of one’s personal opinion about the increasing number of arriving refugees, this statement brings up the question of how to integrate admitted asylum-seekers into our societies. Naturally, these individuals will have to learn the language of the country by which they are offered asylum, and many national citizens expect them to understand and accept our norms and values. Such objectives can of course only be achieved in the long run as people have to adapt to their new homes first.
‘Why is such an investment in the education of refugee children in our interest?’, many critics ask. In my opinion, and as my approach to this theme has shown, the answer is clear: The costs of (temporarily) employing additional teachers and financing additional learning material will be greatly outweighed by the benefits society can get from well-educated and well-integrated citizens in the future through tax-incomes, statutory welfare contributions, economic growth, etc.
To underline this position let us consider the following statistics: According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany the annual costs of education per student lie between 5.400€ and 7.900€. The average total annual tax income per person alone lies at 8.229€  and thereby exceeds the costs of education. Additionally, one must not forget about the before-mentioned additional benefits of a larger well-educated workforce and the fact that the duration of educating individuals is far shorter than their working life. Since the benefits from educating young refugees exceed the current additional costs, educating refugee children can be seen as an investment in the future of our societies.
Bottom line: Establishing a sustainable and successful integration strategy with education as a major cornerstone does not only facilitate the integration process as a whole, but also lays the foundation for profiting from the current developments in the future.
* Please comment on these posts from my growth & development economics students, to help them with unclear analysis, other perspectives, data sources, etc.
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