News / Latest / By Ernest Kanjo & Marcel Adig / Thursday, 10 July 2014 17:28

miranda  Oben Tiptopstars

In a contemporary context of growing challenges, the need to be educated and soundly too, is every parent’s utmost wish for their child/children. African parents have particularly given this option a serious consideration. Reason – they hail from a background of negative perceptions that have been stumbling blocks to their ascension on the social ladder. Also, living in the diaspora as migrants does not make things really palatable. That their children should face similar ordeals now seems to be the last thing that props on their minds. Rather, these kids should defy the odds, emerge, stand out and reap from the best sources. Empowering them is therefore the only means to achieve this. To parents of Cameroonian kids living in Germany, such empowerment can only begin from the greatest source of power – education. How apt and refined their kids would be for the job market tomorrow depends on how convenient and good the educational system today is. It is to tune this system to suit the future challenges these children are going to face that has motivated Miranda Oben (a Cameroonian wife, mother and Software Engineer who lives and works in Germany) to initiate a children’s conference. The one-day conference that takes place this Saturday, July 12, 2014 will be chaired by the Cameroonian Ambassador to Germany, H.E Jean Marc Mpay. Miranda (fondly called Mira) who is also editor of the SG Panorama magazine and a highly reputed multi-lingual moderator, recently voted on the list of the most 100 most influential

Africans in Germany spoke with TIPTOPSTARS and Afrikka Radio’s African Cocktail. In the following interview, the young Cameroonian who plays a major role in the Germano-Cameroonian relations expressed her wish to see migrant kids swim in the sea of success to inspire others. Excerpts!
Ernest Kanjo (EK): You will be organizing a pioneer event dubbed Our Kids and Their Future on July the 12th. First, who are you referring to as our kids – all kids or only African kids living in Germany?
Miranda Oben (MO): All kids with a migrant background, growing up with two to three different cultures to grapple with. Our son for instance is two-and-the-half, my husband and I look at him as parents and pray for a bright for future for him every day. Preparing him for that future we yearn for is primordial. The renowned advice columnist Ann Landers said that it’s not what you do for your children, but what you’ve taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings. That’s what we’re looking for.
EK: How does the said school system in Germany look like and what is lacking in it which you think must be added to ensure a satisfactory education for the kids?

MO: I wouldn’t really say lacking. It’s more about understanding the structure of the school system. Let me to throw more light on this. The structure of the German school system follows three main tracks for students – apprenticeship, call it Berufschule which prepares them for blue collar jobs – the Realschule which nurtures students for white collar or salaried employment and the Gymnasium which is followed by university studies and professional employment. In general, the German education system is well set up to offer a highly trained and qualified workforce for its graduates. Berufschule students benefit from very practical hands-on education where they are trained by master craftsmen in his field. Students who are weak in academics but have skills in other areas can thus learn a trade. Realschule students are prepared for white collar or salaried employment such as the Kaufman and Kauffrau referring to male and female salespersons respectively. These students complete the tenth grade, can work in the public service at the secretarial or executive level. The Gymnasium offers a professional track for its students who go on to become engineers, pilots, dentists, etc. Students graduate with the Abitur which is an equivalent of the Advanced levels, then go on to the university. The main advantage is that the school system is well-structured and you are trained according to our abilities. The disadvantage I see though is that it is too rigid. So we have invited experts to talk about this and answer questions from parents on Saturday.

EK: How has the system affected African children in Germany adversely?
MO: Some parents in the past didn’t know about the structure, so they had their kids sent to Realschule and later realized they couldn’t carry on into university. Some parents lost the battle of having their kids sent to a gymnasium and were forced to send them back home in Africa for Secondary and high school education. Of course this is not an easy decision for the parents and the children. In Germany, the school authorities actually pre-select and the children to go to Realschule, even if the parents think otherwise. Sadly enough I gather the coincidental, to put it this way, selection of African kids, follows this fate. So, this Saturday, we will be having three experts in the German educational system highlight parents on this. They will also be looking at the best ways to fight, if I must put it this way, the system thus ensuring a bright future for their children. 

EK: What exactly is the July 12 event going to be exhibiting?
MO: The programme includes alumni associations like LES Germany, SHESA Germany, university groups such as CAMSU, Groups of Cameroonian Engineers in Germany, the VKII and of course the Cameroonian Embassy of Berlin. Amongst other things, we will have a panel discussion with six teenagers and H.E. Jean-Marc Mpay, the Cameroonian Ambassador to Germany, discussing the challenges, opportunities for first generation migrant children in Germany. We will also have a detailed presentation of the structure of the school system in Germany with parents sharing their personal experiences encountered with the system. We will also be listening to parents who have sent their children to school in Cameroon. We shall have an open session with the Ambassador on the much-debated issue of dual nationality and how it can affect the future of our kids. The event ends with a certificate award to participating children. The certificates are signed by Dr Stefan Liebing, President of the Afrika Verein that represents 54 African countries, Ambassador Mpay and my humble self as initiator of the event. The certificates should serve as future reference for the kids.

EK: What is the role of the Cameroonian diplomatic mission in this genuine course you are putting up?

MO:Every father should know what is going on in his home. We refer to the ambassador here as Papa and this alone inspires him to play his role as a father. Fortunately, H.E. Jean Marc Mpay has always loved to connect with the younger generation.. He also represents the diplomatic corps which believes in giving our kids a very solid foundation and drawing them closer to our culture. Interestingly, the vision of this pioneer event and this children’s conference was born during an interview I carried out with the ambassador in Berlin at the end of March. In my hobby as a moderator, the question about our migrant kids’ future has been recurrent in interviews; so in this said interview, I sought to know if he or the Cameroonian Embassy would support such a vision and his reaction was affirmative. He describes the vision as innovative, very promising and one that should be supported by parents and future parents.

EK: Under the banner of what organization are you doing the event?

MO: No specific organization per say. I believe the vision came from God. I’m simply following it. By promoting migrant children’s participation in this society, encouraging and supporting them to play a strong role in a community in which they face a lot of challenges due to their cultural background and origin is very important. Through African role models in the community, this should help them and thus build a more self-confident generation of migrant kids with the involvement of their parents. We should listen to these kids and most also to teenagers, inspire and encourage them to believe in themselves and their capabilities. I’m humbled and grateful to the organizations that have believed in, embraced and joined this vision. We will be coming together on Saturday to make this whole idea a huge success. It is important to mention that I got a lot of help in the organization of this event from the African Ivory founder Mukete Delphine. I’m also glad to state that we will round up the July 12 event with an official inauguration of the new African Ivory Foundation center in Essen.

EK: What changes are you expecting to see in the German school system after this event and what capacity do you have to ensure implementation of the decision you’ll arrive at?

MO:No changes on the system for now, but we expect to create awareness in parents and children. We do have the capacity and things will fall into place when statistics show positive stories about the performance of migrant kids is repeatedly spread. Chimamanda warns against the dangers of a single story. Migrants, especially Cameroonians are very bright people academically. Many of us out here are engineers, pilots and what have you. I need our children to be convinced of their capabilities early enough so society can’t derail them and their plans. Franklin Roosevelt said we may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future. So, preparing our kids for tomorrow is non-negotiable.

EK: What do you expect from the general public vis-à-vis this event?
MO:Attendance! Come with the understanding the purpose in the vision. The general public sure has many other perspectives to all this, so together with our diversified ideas we can give our children a strong self-confidence they need as migrants. Bring your children to the Adelkampstr. 61 in 45147 Essen from 2pm to 9pm. Let the kids start actively thinking and taking part in panel discussions and conferences about them. Don’t only talk about them but talk to, I emphasize to them and listen too. They have very good ideas. It is not only about what you can gain in this event but also what you can give to others. I repeatedly say together, we can achieve a lot. In Swahili we say umoja ni nguvu. I listened to the Prince Nico song you played at the start of African Cocktail with unity as central theme and was moved. If each person could inspire the next to be the best he can, we’d sure be great. You can be the change you want to see in your community. So please note that wherever you are, you can be an inspiration.

Ek: Thanks for talking to us Miranda!
MO: My pleasure Ernest, thanks so much for having me.!

Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014 00:37


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