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Minister calls for fines for 'integration failure'

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Minister calls for fines for 'integration failure'
Photo: dpa/Bildfunk
10:55 CET+01:00
Austria’s Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has called for migrant parents to be fined if they do not comply with school summons relating to their children - particularly in matters where children are being encouraged to integrate.

He told ORF radio that he would recommend fines of up to €1,000 and also said that he wanted school children to work on social projects at school.

Chancellor Werner Faymann (SPÖ) and Vice-Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner (ÖVP) have said there is currently no need for tougher criminal laws relating to integration refusal but Mitterlehner did support Kurz’s suggestion for a fine, citing the example of a father who repeatedly refused to attend a school’s parents’ day, as his child’s teacher was a woman.

Faymann said that he wanted to discuss the idea with parent, teacher and student organisations, to judge whether such penalties would be necessary.

Paul Kimberger, a leader of the teachers’ trade union, said that in his opinion parents who failed to participate in their children's integration should be forced to do so, and that fines would be one way to do this. However he stressed that teachers also reported problems with parents of children with no migration background.

He said that Austrian teachers need more support staff, such as school psychologists and social workers. He also recommended recruiting more teachers with a migration background, who would be able to speak the language of some of their pupils and communicate with their parents.

Greens MEP Alev Korun criticised Kurz for focussing constantly on the “foreigner problem” and said that he wanted to punish an entire population group.

The head of the liberal Neos party, Matthias Strolz, said that fines would simply shame the affected students in front of their classmates and lead to “anger, hatred and alienation”. He called for mandatory ethics and religious education in schools instead.  

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