Michael Stenger

Ashoka Fellow


This profile was prepared when Michael Stenger was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
The right to asylum is a humanitarian cornerstone in Germany. Its implementation, however, reflects the way policymakers actually perceive asylum seekers and refugees: as costly threats to society. As a result, these individuals are often far removed from mainstream society. In fact, under current law and bureaucracy, unaccompanied underage asylum seekers (UUR) over 16 years of age are prevented from attending school, learning German and acquiring vocational skills. Such policies have led this group to become disempowered and often confirm negative stereotypes by turning to drugs, crime and prostitution.

Young refugees originate from diverse backgrounds but face the common struggle of lacking German language skills and previous education. To address the shortfalls of the education system, Michael founded the SchlaU-Schule in Munich, which offers young refugees a chance for an education and integration into society. By structuring courses analogous to state schools and providing first-class student services such as social-psychological aid and legal assistance, his students have an extraordinarily high success rate at the basic state school exam, which enables them to qualify for vocational studies and a professional career.

Skillfully bringing these success stories to the attention of politicians, state welfare organizations and the wider public, Michael is transforming the perception of young asylum seekers in the eyes of relevant stakeholders.

Financed through a complex system of different state and communal funding and foundations, Michael now works on applying his pedagogical concept, lessons learned and methodology of SchlaU to Nuremberg.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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