Whether Ukrainian, Russian or Arabic: until recently, students who did not speak German at the Louise-Weiß-Gymnasium in Hamburg had to pay ten cents. A good German lesson was no longer possible. The students had come up with the “punishment” themselves.

Refugee children should first learn good German before they switch to regular classes. The Louise-Weiß-Gymnasium in Hamburg-Hamm also followed this approach with two international preparatory classes (IVK), it had “absolutely proven itself”, a teacher told the “Spiegel” at the end of March.

But “speaking in the local language” among the refugee children in the IVKs “sometimes gotten so bad that a good German lesson was no longer possible,” said Peter Albrecht, spokesman for the Hamburg school board, to FOCUS Online. That’s why the students got creative: If you don’t speak German, you have to pay ten cents. First, “Bild” reported on the strange action.

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“Everyone liked the suggestion,” says Albrecht. It came from the students themselves, the school management speaks of an “extremely low-threshold idea”. Albrecht does not comment on the question of whether fines are the right means. Headmaster Sven Kertelhein told “Bild” that it was important to him to convey where the rules came from: “We don’t necessarily want to specify rules, we want to create them with students, they have to be accepted.” If the penalty was higher, it would be “of course intervened”.

The action has now ended, according to the school authorities. It remains to be seen whether the fines were a pedagogical success. The total sum is still significantly low: three euros were collected for eating ice cream at the beginning of the holiday. The class teachers would now have to add something “so that there is enough for an ice cream for everyone”.

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