Education in Germany
Overview
The responsibility for the German education system lies primarily with the states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 (Länder) while the federal government plays only a minor role. Optional Kindergarten
Kindergarten
A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...

 (nursery school
Nursery school
A nursery school is a school for children between the ages of one and five years, staffed by suitably qualified and other professionals who encourage and supervise educational play rather than simply providing childcare...

) education is provided for all children between three and six years of age, after which school attendance is compulsory
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

, in most cases for 11 to 12 years. The system varies throughout Germany because each state (Land) decides its own educational policies.
Encyclopedia
The responsibility for the German education system lies primarily with the states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 (Länder) while the federal government plays only a minor role. Optional Kindergarten
Kindergarten
A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...

 (nursery school
Nursery school
A nursery school is a school for children between the ages of one and five years, staffed by suitably qualified and other professionals who encourage and supervise educational play rather than simply providing childcare...

) education is provided for all children between three and six years of age, after which school attendance is compulsory
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

, in most cases for 11 to 12 years. The system varies throughout Germany because each state (Land) decides its own educational policies. Most children, however, first attend Grundschule from the age of six to ten or 12.

German secondary education
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 includes five types of school. The Gymnasium is designed to prepare pupils for university education and finishes with the final examination Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

, after grade 12 or 13. The Realschule
Realschule
The Realschule is a type of secondary school in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. It has also existed in Croatia , Denmark , Sweden , Hungary and in the Russian Empire .-History:The Realschule was an outgrowth of the rationalism and empiricism of the seventeenth and...

 has a broader range of emphasis for intermediate pupils and finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife
Mittlere Reife
The Mittlere Reife is a school leaving certificate in Germany that is roughly comparable with the American high school diploma. It is regularly awarded after ten years of schooling....

, after grade 10; the Hauptschule
Hauptschule
A Hauptschule is a secondary school in Germany and Austria, starting after 4 years of elementary schooling, which offers Lower Secondary Education according to the International Standard Classification of Education...

 prepares pupils for vocational education and finishes with the final examination Hauptschulabschluss
Hauptschulabschluss
The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

, after grade 9 or 10 and the Realschulabschluss after grade 10. There are two types of grade 10: one is the higher level called type 10b and the lower level is called type 10a; only the higher level type 10b can lead to the Realschule
Realschule
The Realschule is a type of secondary school in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. It has also existed in Croatia , Denmark , Sweden , Hungary and in the Russian Empire .-History:The Realschule was an outgrowth of the rationalism and empiricism of the seventeenth and...

 and this finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife
Mittlere Reife
The Mittlere Reife is a school leaving certificate in Germany that is roughly comparable with the American high school diploma. It is regularly awarded after ten years of schooling....

 after grade 10b. This new path of achieving the Realschulabschluss at a vocationally-oriented secondary school was changed by the statutory school regulations in 1981 - with a one-year qualifying period. During the one-year qualifying period of the change to the new regulations, pupils could continue with class 10 to fulfil the statutory period of education. After 1982, the new path was compulsory, as explained above. Other than this, there is the Gesamtschule
Comprehensive school
A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

, which combines the approaches. There are also Förderschulen/Sonderschulen. One in 21 pupils attends a Förderschule. Nevertheless the Förderschulen/Sonderschulen can also lead, in special circumstances, to a Hauptschulabschluss
Hauptschulabschluss
The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

 of both type 10a or type 10b, the latter of which is the Realschulabschluss.
Most German children only attend school in the morning. There are usually no provision for serving lunch. The amount of extracurricular activities is determined individually by each school and varies greatly.

Many of Germany's hundred or so institutions of higher learning charge little or no tuition by international comparison. Students usually must prove through examinations that they are qualified.

In order to enter university, students are, as a rule, required to have passed the Abitur examination; since 2009, however, those with a Meisterbrief (master craftman's diploma) have also been able to apply. Those wishing to attend a "university of applied sciences
Fachhochschule
A Fachhochschule or University of Applied Sciences is a German type of tertiary education institution, sometimes specialized in certain topical areas . Fachhochschulen were founded in Germany and later adopted by Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Greece...

" must, as a rule, have Abitur, Fachhochschulreife or a Meisterbrief. Lacking those qualifications, pupils are eligible to enter a university or university of applied sciences if they can present additional proof that they will be able to keep up with their fellow students (see: Begabtenprüfung
Begabtenprüfung
The Begabtenprüfung is a college admission examination in Germany which provides an alternative to the Abitur or qualifies the student for a "field-specific Abitur"...

 and Hochbegabtenstudium
Hochbegabtenstudium
The Hochbegabtenstudium is a programme in Germany that allows students of prerequisite intellectual ability to attend college even if they do not hold the Abitur...

)

A special system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung allows pupils on vocational courses to do in-service training in a company as well as at a state school. Recent PISA student assessments
Programme for International Student Assessment
The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide evaluation in OECD member countries of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years...

 demonstrated serious weaknesses in German pupils' performance. In the test of 43 countries in the year 2000, Germany ranked 21st in reading and 20th in both mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 and the natural sciences, prompting calls for reform. In 2006, German schoolchildren improved their position compared to previous years, being ranked (statistically) significantly above average (rank 13) in science skills and statistically not significantly above or below average in mathematical skills (rank 20) and reading skills (rank 18).

The PISA Examination also found big differences in achievement between students attending different types of German schools. According to Jan-Martin-Wiadra: Conservatives prized the success of the Gymnasium, for them the finest school form in the world – indeed, it is by far the number one in the PISA league table. But what they prefer to forget is that this success came at the cost of a catastrophe in the Hauptschulen.

Some German teachers' representatives and a number of scientists disputed the PISA findings. Claiming among other things that the questions have been ill-translated, that the samples drawn in some countries were not representative, that Germans (most of whom had never done a multiple choice tests in their lives before) were discriminated against by the multiple choice questions, that the PISA-questions had no curricular validity and that the PISA was "in fact an IQ-test", which according to them showed that dysgenic fertility
Dysgenics
Dysgenics is the study of factors producing the accumulation and perpetuation of defective or disadvantageous genes and traits in offspring of a particular population or species. Dysgenic mutations have been studied in animals such as the mouse and the fruit fly...

 was taking place in Germany.

A 2008 statistic from Nordrhein-Westfalen shows that 6.4 percent of all students did not earn even the Hauptschulabschluss
Hauptschulabschluss
The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

, however not all of them were high school dropouts, as many of them were children with special needs, who received special school leaving certificates. Only 3.3 percent dropped out of school without earning any kind of diploma.

Overview of the German school system

Level grade Typical age School level
(Berlin/Brandenburg)
School level
(rest of Germany)
1 6/7 primary primary
2 7/8
3 8/9
4 9/10
5 10/11 secondary, part I
6 11/12
7 12/13 secondary, part I
8 13/14
9 14/15
10 15/16
11 16/17 secondary, part II secondary, part II
12 17/18
(13) (18/19)


Parents looking for a suitable school for their child have a wide choice of elementary schools:
  • State school. State schools do not charge tuition fees. The majority of pupils attend state schools in their neighbourhood. Schools in affluent areas tend to be better than those in deprived areas. Once children reach school age, many middle class and working class families move away from deprived areas.
  • or, alternatively
    • Waldorf School (206 schools in 2007)
    • Montessori method
      Montessori method
      Montessori education is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. Montessori education is practiced in an estimated 20,000 schools worldwide, serving children from birth to eighteen years old.-Overview:...

       school (272)
    • Freie Alternativschule (Free Alternative Schools) (85)
    • Protestant
      Evangelical Church in Germany
      The Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of 22 Lutheran, Unified and Reformed Protestant regional church bodies in Germany. The EKD is not a church in a theological understanding because of the denominational differences. However, the member churches share full pulpit and altar...

       (63) or Catholic
      Roman Catholic Church
      The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

       (114) parochial school
      Parochial school
      A parochial school is a school that provides religious education in addition to conventional education. In a narrower sense, a parochial school is a Christian grammar school or high school which is part of, and run by, a parish.-United Kingdom:...

      s


After children have completed their primary education (at 10 years of age, 12 in Berlin and Brandenburg), there are four options for secondary schooling:
  • Hauptschule
    Hauptschule
    A Hauptschule is a secondary school in Germany and Austria, starting after 4 years of elementary schooling, which offers Lower Secondary Education according to the International Standard Classification of Education...

     (the least academic, much like a modernized Volksschule
    Volksschule
    A Volksschule was an 18th century system of state-supported primary schools established in the Habsburg Austrian Empire and Prussia . Attendance was supposedly compulsory, but a 1781 census reveals that only one fourth of school-age children attended. At the time, this was one of the few examples...

     [elementary school]) until grade nine (with Hauptschulabschluss
    Hauptschulabschluss
    The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

     and in some cases Mittlere Reife = Realschulabschuss as exit exam); in some States of Germany the Hauptschule does not exist and pupils are mainstreamed into a Mittelschule
    Mittelschule
    Mittelschule is a term in German education that may refer to different schools. In some States of Germany a school similar to a Hauptschule may be called Mittelschule, while in other States of Germany a combination of Hauptschule and Realschule is called Mittelschule...

     or Regionale Schule
    Regionale Schule
    In Germany, a Regionale Schule or Regionalschule ist a secondary school that allows attaining "Berufsreife" or Mittlere Reife. It exists only in some states of germany....

     instead.
  • Realschule
    Realschule
    The Realschule is a type of secondary school in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. It has also existed in Croatia , Denmark , Sweden , Hungary and in the Russian Empire .-History:The Realschule was an outgrowth of the rationalism and empiricism of the seventeenth and...

     until grade ten (with Mittlere Reife
    Mittlere Reife
    The Mittlere Reife is a school leaving certificate in Germany that is roughly comparable with the American high school diploma. It is regularly awarded after ten years of schooling....

     (Realschulabschluss) as exit exam);
  • Gymnasium (grammar school) until grade 12 or 13 (with Abitur as exit exam, qualifying for university); and
  • Gesamtschule
    Comprehensive school
    A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

     (comprehensive school)
  • After successfully passing through any of the above schools, pupils can start a career with an apprenticeship in the Berufsschule (vocational school). The Berufsschule is normally attended twice a week during a two, three, or three-and-a-half year apprenticeship
    Apprenticeship
    Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

    ; the other days are spent working at a company. This is intended to provide a knowledge of theory and practice. The company is obliged to accept the apprentice on its apprenticeship scheme. After this, the apprentice is registered on a list at the Industrie- und Handelskammer
    Chamber of commerce
    A chamber of commerce is a form of business network, e.g., a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community...

     IHK (chamber of industry and commerce). During the apprenticeship, the apprentice is a part-time salaried employee of the company. After passing the Berufsschule and the exit exams of the IHK, a certificate is awarded and the young person is ready for a career up to a low management level. In some areas, the schemes teach certain skills that are a legal requirement (special positions in a bank, legal assistants).


Some special areas provide different paths. After attending any of the above schools and gaining a leaving certificate (Hauptschulabschluss) - Mittlere Reife (FOR) or Mittlere Reife, (Realschulabschuss from a Realschule); or Abitur from a Gymnasium or a Gesamtschule
Comprehensive school
A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

, school leavers can start a career with an apprenticeship at a Berufsschule (vocational school). Here the student is registered with certain bodies, e.g. associations
Voluntary association
A voluntary association or union is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement as volunteers to form a body to accomplish a purpose.Strictly speaking, in many jurisdictions no formalities are necessary to start an association...

 such as the German Bar Association Deutsche Rechtsanwaltskammer GBA (board of directors). During the apprenticeship, the young person is a part-time salaried employee of the institution, bank, physician or attorney’s office. After leaving the Berufsfachschule and passing the exit examinations set by the German Bar Association or other relevant associations, the apprentice receives a certificate and is ready for a career at all levels except in positions which require a specific higher degree, such as a doctorate. In some areas, the apprenticeship scheme teaches skills that are required by law, including certain positions in a bank or those as legal assistants. The 16 states have exclusive responsibility in the field of education and professional education. The federal parliament and the federal government can influence the educational system only by financial aid to the states. There are many different school systems, but in each state the starting point is always the Grundschule (elementary school) for a period of four years; or six years in the case of Berlin and Brandenburg.

Percentage of jobholders holding Hauptschulabschluss
Hauptschulabschluss
The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

, Realschulabschluss or Abitur in Germany
1970 1982 1991 2000
Hauptschulabschluss
Hauptschulabschluss
The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

87,7 % 79,3 % 66,5 % 54,9 %
Realschulabschluss 10,9 % 17,7 % 27 % 34,1 %
Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

1,4 % 3 % 6,5 % 11 %

Grades 5 and 6 form an orientation phase (Orientierungsstufe) during which pupils, their parents and teachers decide which of the above-mentioned paths the pupils should follow. In all states except Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

, this orientation phase is embedded into the program of the secondary schools. The decision for a secondary school influences the pupil's future, but during this phase changes can be made more easily. In practice this rarely comes to bear because teachers are afraid of sending pupils to more academic schools whereas parents are afraid of sending their children to less academic schools. In Berlin and Brandenburg, the orientation is embedded into that of the elementary schools. Teachers give a so-called educational (path) recommendation (Bildungs(gang)empfehlung) based on scholastic achievements in the main subjects (mathematics, German, natural sciences, foreign language) and classroom behaviour, with details and legal implications differing from state to state: in some German states, those wishing to apply for a Gymnasium or Realschule need such a recommendation stating that the pupil is likely to make a successful transition to that type of school; in other cases anybody may apply.
In Berlin 30% - 35% of Gymnasium places are allocated by lottery. A pupil's performance at primary school is immaterial.

The eastern states Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia combine Hauptschule and Realschule as Sekundarschule, Mittelschule and Regelschule respectively. All German states have Gymnasium as one possibility for the more able children, and all states - except Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 - have some Gesamtschulen, but in different forms. The states of Berlin and Hamburg have only two types of schools: comprehensive schools and Gymnasium (see: Education in Berlin
Education in Berlin
Education in Berlin covers the whole spectrum from kindergarten, primary education, secondary education, and higher education in Berlin. The German states are primarily responsible for the educational system in Germany.-Schooling in Berlin before 2010/2011:...

 and Education in Hamburg).

Learning a foreign language is compulsory throughout Germany in secondary schools and often this language is English. However, it is not always the first foreign language; pupils at Gymnasium are sometimes required to learn Latin as their first foreign language or may chose between languages. The list of available foreign languages as well as the hours of compulsory foreign language studies differ from state to state. French, Spanish, ancient Greek, and Latin are most frequently taken as foreign language. Many schools also offer voluntary study groups for the learning of other languages. In some states, foreign language education starts in the Grundschule (primary school). For example, in North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

, English is starting in the third year of elementary school; Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 starts with either English or Polish; and Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 states of Germany. Baden-Württemberg is in the southwestern part of the country to the east of the Upper Rhine, and is the third largest in both area and population of Germany's sixteen states, with an area of and 10.7 million inhabitants...

 starts with English or French in the first year.

It may be problematic in terms of school studies for families to move from one German state
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 to another because there are quite different curricula for almost every subject.

Adults who did not obtain a Realschulabschluss or Abitur, or reached its equivalent, have the option of attending evening classes at an Abendgymnasium
Abendgymnasium
An Abendgymnasium or "Evening Gymnasium" is a German class of secondary school for adults over the age of 19 which allows them to gain the Abitur. Classes are usually held after 17:30 at night, although some classes may be held in the mornings for parents with school-age children...

 or Abendrealschule
Abendrealschule
An Abendrealschule is a German class of secondary school for mature students which allows them to gain the Mittlere Reife and sometimes also other school leaving certificates. Classes are usually held in the evening....

.

Public (state-funded) and private schools

In 2006, six percent of German children attended private schools.

In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Article 7, Paragraph 4 of the Grundgesetz
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on 8 May 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies of World War II on 12 May, came into effect on 23 May, as the constitution of those states of West Germany that were initially included...

, the constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 of Germany, guarantees the right to establish private schools. This article belongs to the first part of the German basic law
Basic Law
The term basic law is used in some places as an alternative to "constitution", implying it is a temporary but necessary measure without formal enactment of constitution. A basic law is either a codified constitution, or in countries with uncodified constitutions, a law given to have constitution...

, which defines civil and human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

. A right which is guaranteed in this part of the Grundgesetz can only be suspended in a state of emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

, if the respective article specifically states this possibility. That is not the case with this article. It is also not possible to abolish these rights. This unusual protection of private schools was implemented to protect them from a second Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...

 or similar event in the future.

Ersatzschulen are ordinary primary or secondary schools which are run by private individuals, private organizations or religious groups. These schools offer the same types of diplomas as in public schools. However, Ersatzschulen lack the freedom to operate completely outside government control. Teachers at Ersatzschulen are required to have at least the same qualifications as those at state schools; by the same token, their salaries are at least those of teachers at state schools. An Ersatzschule must have at least the same academic standards as those of a state school and Article 7, Paragraph 4 of the Grundgesetz, also forbids the segregation of pupils according to the means of their parents (the so called Sondierungsverbot). Therefore, most Ersatzschulen have very low tuition fees compared to those in most other Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

an countries; scholarships are also often available. However, it is not possible to finance these schools with such low tuition fees: accordingly all German Ersatzschulen are subsidised with public funds.

Furthermore, in some cases, the education of a pupil at a private school is funded by the so-called youth welfare office. This is often the case if a pupil is considered to be a child at risk: pupils who have learning disabilities, special emotional needs or come from broken homes fall into this category.

After allowing for the socio-economic status of the parents, children attending private schools are not as able as those at state schools. At the Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment
The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide evaluation in OECD member countries of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years...

 (PISA) for example, after allowing for socioeconomic class, pupils at private schools underperformed those at state schools. One has, however, to be careful interpreting that data: it may be that such pupils do not underperform because they attend a private school, but that they attend a private school because they underperform. Some private Realschulen and Gymnasien have lower entrance requirements than public Realschulen and Gymnasien.

There are special private schools for emotionally disturbed children.

The education of children with special needs

Most German children with special needs attend a school called Förderschule or Sonderschule (special school) that serves only such children. There are several types of special schools in Germany such as:
  • The "Sonderschule für Lernbehinderte" - a special school serving children who suffer from learning difficulties
  • The "Schule mit dem Förderschwerpunkt Geistige Entwicklung" - a special school serving children who suffer from very severe learning difficulties
  • The "Förderschule Schwerpunkt emotionale und soziale Entwicklung" - a special school serving children who have special emotional needs

Only one in 21 German children attends a special school.
Teachers at those schools are qualified professionals who have specialized in special-needs education while at college. Special schools often have a very favourable student-teacher ratio and facilities compared with other schools.
Special schools have been criticized. It is argued that special education separates and discriminates against those who are disabled or different.
Some special-needs children do not attend special schools, but are mainstreamed into a Hauptschule
Hauptschule
A Hauptschule is a secondary school in Germany and Austria, starting after 4 years of elementary schooling, which offers Lower Secondary Education according to the International Standard Classification of Education...

 or Gesamtschule (comprehensive school) and/or, in rare cases, into a Realschule or even a Gymnasium.

The education of intellectually gifted children

There are very few specialist schools for gifted children. Also German schools do not IQ-test children and, as a result, most intellectually gifted children remain unaware that they fall into this category. The German psychologist, Detlef H. Rost, carried out a pioneer long-term study on gifted children called the Marburger Hochbegabtenprojekt. In 1987/1988 he tested 7000 third graders on the CFT 20, Culture Fair Intelligence Test III (Cattell Culture Fair III
Cattell Culture Fair III
In seeking to develop a culture-fair intelligence or IQ test that separated environmental and genetic factors, Raymond B. Cattell created the CFIT or Culture Fair Intelligence Test. Cattell argued that general intelligence exists and that it consists of fluid intelligence and crystallized...

). Those who scored at least two standard deviations above the mean were categorised as gifted. A total of 151 gifted subjects participated in the study alongside 136 controls. All participants in the study were tested blind with the result that they did not discover whether they were gifted or not. The study revealed that the gifted children did very well in school. The vast majority later attended a Gymnasium and achieved good grades. However, 15 percent, were classified as underachievers because they attended a Realschule
Realschule
The Realschule is a type of secondary school in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. It has also existed in Croatia , Denmark , Sweden , Hungary and in the Russian Empire .-History:The Realschule was an outgrowth of the rationalism and empiricism of the seventeenth and...

 (two cases) or a Hauptschule
Hauptschule
A Hauptschule is a secondary school in Germany and Austria, starting after 4 years of elementary schooling, which offers Lower Secondary Education according to the International Standard Classification of Education...

 (one case), had repeated a grade (four cases) or had grades that put them in the lower half of their class (the rest of cases). The report also concluded that most gifted persons had high self-esteem and good psychological health. Rost said that he was not in favour of special schools for the gifted. Gifted children seemed to be served well by Germany's existing school system.

Church and state

Church and state are separated in Germany. Compulsory school prayers and compulsory attendance at religious services are against the constitution. In 1995, it was ruled that the Christian cross was not allowed in classrooms, as it violates the religious freedom of non-Christian students. The cross is allowed if none of the pupils objects, but must be removed in the event of an objection.
Some German states have banned teachers from wearing headscarves.

The Prussian era (1814–1871)

Historically, the Lutheran denomination had a strong influence on German culture, including its education. Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 advocated compulsory schooling so that all people would independently be able to read and interpret the Bible. This concept became a model for schools throughout Germany.

During the 18th century, the Kingdom of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 was among the first countries in the world to introduce free and generally compulsory primary education, consisting of an eight-year course of basic education, Volksschule
Volksschule
A Volksschule was an 18th century system of state-supported primary schools established in the Habsburg Austrian Empire and Prussia . Attendance was supposedly compulsory, but a 1781 census reveals that only one fourth of school-age children attended. At the time, this was one of the few examples...

. It provided not only the skills needed in an early industrialized world (reading, writing, and arithmetic), but also a strict education in ethics, duty, discipline and obedience. Children of affluent parents often went on to attend preparatory private schools for an additional four years, but the general population had virtually no access to secondary education.

In 1810, after the Napoleonic wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, Prussia introduced state certification requirements for teachers, which significantly raised the standard of teaching. The final examination, Abitur, was introduced in 1788, implemented in all Prussian secondary schools by 1812 and extended to all of Germany in 1871. The state also established teacher training colleges for prospective teachers in the common or elementary grades.

German Empire (1871–1918)

When the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 was formed in 1871, the school system became more centralized. In 1872, Prussia recognized the first separate secondary schools for girls. As learned professions demanded well-educated young people, more secondary schools were established, and the state claimed the sole right to set standards and to supervise the newly established schools.

Four different types of secondary schools developed:
  • A nine-year classical Gymnasium (focusing on Latin and Greek or Hebrew, plus one modern language);
  • A nine-year Realgymnasium (focusing on Latin, modern languages, science and mathematics);
  • A six-year Realschule (without university entrance qualification, but with the option of becoming a trainee in one of the modern industrial, office
    Office
    An office is generally a room or other area in which people work, but may also denote a position within an organization with specific duties attached to it ; the latter is in fact an earlier usage, office as place originally referring to the location of one's duty. When used as an adjective, the...

     or technical jobs); and
  • A nine-year Oberrealschule (focusing on modern languages, science and mathematics).


By the turn of the 20th century, the four types of schools had achieved equal rank and privilege, although they did not have equal prestige.

Weimar Republic (1919–1933) to the present

After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 established a free, universal 4-year elementary school (Grundschule). Most pupils continued at these schools for another 4-year course. Those who were able to pay a small fee went on to a Mittelschule that provided a more challenging curriculum for an additional one or two years. Upon passing a rigorous entrance exam after year four, pupils could also enter one of the four types of secondary school.

During the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 era (1933–1945), indoctrination
Indoctrination
Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology . It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned...

 of Nazi ideologies was added to the education programme; however, the basic education system remained unchanged. See also: Nazi university.

After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Allied powers (Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and the USA) ensured that Nazi ideology was eliminated from the curriculum. They installed educational systems in their respective occupation zones that reflected their own ideas. When West Germany gained partial independence in 1949, its new constitution (Grundgesetz) granted educational autonomy to the state (Länder
Länder
Länder or Bundesländer may refer to:* States of Germany, the 16 federal subdivisions of Germany* States of Austria, the 9 federal subdivisions of Austria...

) governments. This led to widely varying school systems, often making it difficult for children to continue schooling whilst moving between states.

More recently, multi-state agreements ensure that basic requirements are universally met by all state school systems. Thus, all children are required to attend one type of school on a full-time basis (i.e. five or six days a week) from the age of 6 to the age of 16. A pupil may change schools in the case of exceptionally good (or exceptionally poor) ability. Graduation certificates from one state are recognized by all the other states. Qualified teachers are able to apply for posts in any of the states.

Education in East Germany

The German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

 (East Germany) started its own standardized education system in the 1960s. The East German equivalent of both primary and secondary schools was the Polytechnic Secondary School
Polytechnic Secondary School
The polytechnic secondary school, officially ten-class general educational polytechnic secondary school, abbreviation POS, pronounced P-O-S, was the standard type of school in the school system of East Germany. The POS was established in 1959 to replace the hitherto existing Grundschule...

 (Polytechnische Oberschule), which all students attended for 10 years, from the ages of 6 to 16. At the end of the 10th year, an exit examination was set. Depending upon the results, a pupil could choose to come out of education or undertake an apprenticeship for an additional two years, followed by an Abitur. Those who performed very well and displayed loyalty to the ruling party could change to the Erweiterte Oberschule (extended high school), where they could take their Abitur examinations after 12 school years. Although this system was abolished in the early 1990s after reunification, it continues to influence school life in the eastern German states.

Participation in international assessments

The Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment
The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide evaluation in OECD member countries of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years...

, coordinated by the OECD, assesses the skills of 15-year-olds in OECD countries and a number of partner countries. In 2006, German schoolchildren improved their position compared to previous years, being ranked (statistically) significantly above average (rank 13) in science skills and statistically not significantly above or below average in mathematical skills (rank 20) and reading skills (rank 18). The socio-economic gradient was very high in Germany, the pupils' performance in Germany being more dependent on socio-economic factors than in most other countries.
type school
performance on PISA
Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

 2003 (points earned) by school attended and social class
social class „very low“ social class „low“ social class „high“ social class „very high“
Hauptschule
Hauptschule
A Hauptschule is a secondary school in Germany and Austria, starting after 4 years of elementary schooling, which offers Lower Secondary Education according to the International Standard Classification of Education...

 
400 429 436 450
Gesamtschule 438 469 489 515
Realschule
Realschule
The Realschule is a type of secondary school in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. It has also existed in Croatia , Denmark , Sweden , Hungary and in the Russian Empire .-History:The Realschule was an outgrowth of the rationalism and empiricism of the seventeenth and...

 
482 504 528 526
Gymnasium 578 581 587 602
PISA 2003 – Der Bildungsstand der Jugendlichen in Deutschland – Ergebnisse des 2. internationalen Vergleiches.



Who is least likely to succeed in German school?

A generation ago the person least likely to attend a Gymnasium was a "catholic working class girl from the rural parts of Germany". Nowadays however the person least likely to attend a Gymnasium is a "minority youngster from the ghetto", who is "the son of immigrants"

IQ

IQ is a very good predictor of educational attainment in Germany. The correlation between IQ and secondary school leaving certificate (Hauptschulabschluss
Hauptschulabschluss
The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

, Realschulabschluss, Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

) is r=0,7. Even when social class of a students family is controlled for IQ still is still positively associated with years of schooling. Of course, that could mean the opposite, that education level is a good predictor of IQ.

According to an older study students needed a minimum IQ of 115 (one standard deviation above the mean on the test used) in order to be able to benefit from attending a Gymnasium and they needed an IQ of at least 125 in order to be able to benefit from German University (not to be confused with the Fachhochschule
Fachhochschule
A Fachhochschule or University of Applied Sciences is a German type of tertiary education institution, sometimes specialized in certain topical areas . Fachhochschulen were founded in Germany and later adopted by Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Greece...

, the required IQ is lower in that case). However this might have changed and the requirements might be lower today, since more students attend Gymnasien and universities.

Gender

Educational achievement varies more in German males than it does in German females: boys are more likely to attend special education schools but also more likely to be postgraduate students; 63% of pupils attending special education programs for the academically challenged are male. Males are less likely to meet the state-wide performance targets, more likely to drop out of school and more likely to be classified emotionally disturbed. 86% of the pupils receiving special training because of emotional disturbance are male.
Research shows a class-effect: native middle-class males perform as well as middle-class females in terms of educational achievement but lower-class males and immigrant males lag behind lower-class females and immigrant females. A lack of male role models contributes to a low academic achievement in the case of lower-class males .
On the other hand 58% of all postgraduate students and 84% of all German college professors were male in 2010.

Socioeconomic factors

Children from poor immigrant or working class families are less likely to succeed in school than children from middle or upper-class backgrounds. This disadvantage for the financially challenged of Germany is greater than in any other industrialized nation. However, the true reasons stretch beyond economic ones. The poor also tend to be less educated. After allowing for parental education, money does not play a major role in children's academic outcomes.

Immigrant children and youths, mostly of lower-class background, are the fastest-growing segment of the German population. So their prospects bear heavily on the well-being of the country. More than 30% of Germans aged 15 years and younger have at least one parent born abroad. In the big cities, 60% of children aged 5 years and younger have at least one parent born abroad. Immigrant children academically underperform their peers. Immigrants have tended to be less educated than native Germans. After controlling for parental education, ethnic group does not play a role in children's academic outcomes.

Immigrants from China and Vietnam perform exceptionally well. In eastern Germany, Vietnamese and Chinese of lower-class backgrounds outperform students from European backgrounds despite the fact that in most cases their parents are poorer and less educated than the parents of their European-born peers. Teachers in eastern Germany have also been shown to be more motivated than teachers in western Germany. That might be another reason for this Asian achievement.

ELEMENT-study Multiple Regression Analysis

Factors determinating mathematical performance in 6th-graders attending a Berlin primary school
Variable Beta (strength of influence)
mathematical performance in 4th grade 0,540
general cognitive ability 0,236
parents hold the Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

 (as compared to children of parents without school diploma)
0,144
parents hold the Mittlere Reife
Mittlere Reife
The Mittlere Reife is a school leaving certificate in Germany that is roughly comparable with the American high school diploma. It is regularly awarded after ten years of schooling....

 (as compared to children of parents without school diploma)
0,096
Number of books present in the child's home 0,055
male gender no influence could be found
German is spoken in the child's home no influence could be found
parents hold the Hauptschulabschluss (as compared to children of parents without school diploma) no influence could be found


The ELEMENT study dealt with determinants of academic achievement in Berlin. It was carried out in Berlin, where some of the pupils started at a Gymnasium after the 4th grade, while others stayed in primary school until 6th grade and started at different schools after the 6th grade. Factors correlated with academic achievement tend to be intercorrelated (that means that they are also correlated with other factors that determine academic achievement). The number of books owned by a pupil's parents, for example, is correlated with the parents' education. Because of this Multiple Regression Analysis
Regression analysis
In statistics, regression analysis includes many techniques for modeling and analyzing several variables, when the focus is on the relationship between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables...

 was used. Multiple Regression allows us to understand the influence of one variable when the other variables are held fixed.

It was revealed by the study that the most important variable determining mathematical performance in the 6th grade was mathematical performance in the 4th grade. Children who have a head start in the 4th grade keep it until the 6th grade. It was also revealed by the study that some variables were immaterial. If a language other than German is spoken in the home that was correlated with poor mathematical performance in other studies. However correlation does not imply causation
Correlation does not imply causation
"Correlation does not imply causation" is a phrase used in science and statistics to emphasize that correlation between two variables does not automatically imply that one causes the other "Correlation does not imply causation" (related to "ignoring a common cause" and questionable cause) is a...

 and the ELEMENT-study revealed that if other factors were taken into account for the language spoken at home, this had no effect on mathematical performance.

ELEMENT-long term study of the development of mathematical ability

Development in mathematical ability of children attending a Berlin primary school by parents' education
education of parents
mathematical ability by 4th grade mathematical ability by 6th grade
no school diploma 89,7 105,4
Hauptschulabschluss
Hauptschulabschluss
The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

 or similar diploma
91,1 108,2
Mittlere Reife
Mittlere Reife
The Mittlere Reife is a school leaving certificate in Germany that is roughly comparable with the American high school diploma. It is regularly awarded after ten years of schooling....

 or similar diploma
94,8 112,8
Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

101,0 120,8


Development in mathematical ability of children attending a Berlin Gymnasium by parents education
education of parents
mathematical ability by 4th grade (while still in primary school) mathematical ability by 6th grade (Gymnasium)
no school diploma 104,2 123,3
Hauptschulabschluss
Hauptschulabschluss
The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

 or similar diploma
111,0 128,8
Mittlere Reife
Mittlere Reife
The Mittlere Reife is a school leaving certificate in Germany that is roughly comparable with the American high school diploma. It is regularly awarded after ten years of schooling....

 or similar diploma
111,6 131,3
Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

114,5 135,2


The aim of another ELEMENT-study was to monitor the development of general mathematical ability. The findings of the study can be seen in the table. One finding is that those admitted to a Gymnasium after the fourth grade had showed better mathematical ability than those who stayed in primary school, ab initio. That was true for all social classes. Another finding was that children of all social classes did better in the sixth grade when they were at a Gymnasium. By the end of the sixth grade, those attending a Gymnasium were two years ahead of those attending a primary school.
Did the Gymnasium boost students ability? There are different opinions about this. Some argue that this is the cases and even after testing performance in grade four, those who were admitted to a Gymnasium outperformed their peers who were not at grade six. That was also the interpretation of Prof. Dr. Dr. Lehman, who did the study. He stated: The findings indicate that the Gymnasium help students of all social classes reach their full mathematical potential. Others however, who have reanalized the data, claimed that those attending a Gymnasium were different ab initio and could not properly be compared to those attending a primary school. The data is of high political relevance as those who are in favour of the tripartite system and those who are in favour of comprehensive schools both use it to proof their point. Those, who are in favour of comprehensive schools, claim that the data shows that the primary schools which resembles a comprehensive schools boost children's ability, while those in favour of the tripartite system argue that the data shows the Gymnasium boost students ability.

Helping children at risk

Children whose families receive welfare, children whose parents dropped out of school, children of teenage parents, children raised by a lone parent, children raised in crime-ridden inner-city neighbourhoods, children who have multiple young siblings, and children who live in overcrowded substandard apartments are at risk of poor educational achievement in Germany. Often these factors go together, making it very hard for children to overcome the odds. A number of measures have been assessed to help those children reach their full potential.

Kindergarten

Kindergarten has been shown to improve school readiness in children at risk. Children attending a kindergarten were less likely to have impaired speech or impaired motor development. Only 50% of children whose parents did not graduate from school are ready for school at age six. If such children were enrolled in a high-quality three-year Kindergarten programme, 87% were ready for school at age six. Thus Kindergarten helps to overcome unequal opportunities.

Home-visits to families in need

Families whose children are at risk for low academic achievement may be visited by trained professionals. They offer a wide variety of services that relate to each child's and each family's background and needs. Such professionals may visit pregnant low-income women and talk with them about positive health-related behaviors, such as following a healthy diet or refraining from the use of alcohol or tobacco while pregnant. Positive health-related behavior may have a major impact on children's school performance.

Home visitors may provide information on childcare and social services, help parents in crisis and model problem-solving skills. They may help implement the preschool/school curriculum at home or provide a curriculum of educational games designed to improve language, development and cognitive skills. In most cases, such support is offered to families on a voluntary basis. Families who are eligible for the program may decide for themselves whether or not they want to participate. There are no penalties if they decide against it or against continuing with the program.

Bias against working class pupils

In Germany most children are streamed by ability into different schools after fourth grade. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study revealed that working class children needed better reading abilities than middle-class children to be nominated for the Gymnasium. After allowing for reading abilities, odds to be nominated to Gymnasium for upper middle-class children were still 2.63 times better than for working-class children.
Points needed to be nominated for Gymnasium
Teachers nominating
child for Gymnasium
Parents wanting child
to attend Gymnasium
children from upper-middle class backgrounds 537 498
children from lower-middle class backgrounds 569 559
children of parents holding pink collar jobs 582 578
children of self-employed parents 580 556
children from upper working class backgrounds 592 583
children from lower working class backgrounds 614 606

Affirmative Action

Germany's Left Party
The Left (Germany)
The Left , also commonly referred to as the Left Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. The Left is the most left-wing party of the five represented in the Bundestag....

 brought up the discussion about affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

. According to Stefan Zillich, quotas should be "a possibility" to help working class children who did not do well in school gain access to a Gymnasium. Headmasters of Gymnasien have objected, saying that this type of policy would "be a disservice" to poor children, that they would not be able to academically keep up with their classmates and that they would not feel welcome at a Gymnasium. Wolfgang Harnischfeger, headmaster of a well known Berlin Gymnasium, stated: "It can be noticed in children as young as kindergarten-age, that children take after their parents. They emulate their language, their way of dressing, their way of spending their freetime. Children from Neukölln
Neukölln
Neukölln is the eighth borough of Berlin, located in the southeastern part of the city and was part of the former American sector under the Four-Power occupation of the city...

 (a poor neighbourhood) would not feel good about themselves if they had to attend that type of school that mainly serves pupils from social classes different from their own. They will not be able to integrate. Every field-day, every school party will show that very soon." He also said that "this kind of policy would weaken the Gymnasium" and that this would be dangerous, because "German society could not afford to do without the truly educated adults the Gymnasium produces". Stefan Zillich has answered to this, saying that "German society can not afford having only so few adults who were truly educated". While affirmative action laws were not passed (status: January 2010) sought after schools have been guaranteed the right to employ their own quotas since the 1970s (see below).

Other quotas

A prominent example for a heavily oversubscribed school that chose to establish a quota is the Laborschule Bielefeld
Laborschule Bielefeld
The Laborschule Bielefeld is an alternative school located in the city of Bielefeld, Germany. It has received significant media coverage in Germany because it is one of Germany's few "democratic" schools. The Laborschule has been called one of Germany's best schools by the media...

, which chose to establish a working class quota. It was decided that 50 percent of the pupils should come from working class backgrounds. Also the school chose to guarantee children from single parent families and children from immigrant families preferential treatment. The school tried to persuade working class parents to enroll their children, but they were not successful. In 2005 only 1.6 percent of the children had a father who was an unskilled worker and only 3.2 percent had a father who was a skilled worker. In 2009 a representative of the school said that the school still had the goal of enrolling as many working class and immigrant children as possible and that it was decided children from those backgrounds could be guaranteed a slot if they chose to enroll.
The school, however, was successful in enrolling children from single parent families. Nearly 45 percent of its pupils come from a family headed by a single female.

Berlin's Gymnasium Lottery

In 2009 the Berlin Senate decided that Berlin's gymnasium schools should no longer be allowed to pick all of their students. It was ruled that while they would be able to pick 70% to 65% of their students, the other places were to be allocated by lottery. Every child is able to enter the lottery, no matter how he or she performed in primary school. It is hoped that this policy will increase the number of working class students attending a gymnasium. The Left
The Left (Germany)
The Left , also commonly referred to as the Left Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. The Left is the most left-wing party of the five represented in the Bundestag....

 proposed that Berlin gymnasiums should no longer be allowed to expel students who perform poorly, so that students who won a gymnasium place in the lottery have a higher chance of graduating from that school. It is not clear yet whether Berlin's senate will decide in favour of The Left
The Left (Germany)
The Left , also commonly referred to as the Left Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. The Left is the most left-wing party of the five represented in the Bundestag....

's proposal.

Differences between western Germany and the former GDR

The influence of social class on educational achievement is much greater in western Germany than it is in eastern Germany
Eastern Germany
Eastern Germany may refer to:* New federal states of Germany, the states that joined the Federal Republic of Germany after 1990Historically:* Former eastern territories of Germany, territories lost by Germany during and after the two world wars...

 (former GDR). In western Germany the child of an academic is 7.26 times as likely as the child of a skilled worker to attend a Gymnasium, while in eastern Germany a child from an academic background is only 2.78 times as likely as a working class child to attend a Gymnasium.

The reasons for this are unclear. Some people have the opinion that immigrants were to blame for this because more uneducated immigrant families lived in western Germany than in eastern Germany. This assumption however could not be confirmed. The difference between eastern and western Germany was even stronger when only ethnic German children were studied.

Differences between rural parts of Germany and cities

Social class differences in educational achievement are much more marked in Germany's big cities than they are in the rural parts of Germany. In cities with more than 300,000 inhabitants, children of academics are 14.36 times as likely as children of skilled workers to attend Gymnasium.

Life in a German school


A few organizational central points are listed below. It should however be noted that due to the decentralized nature of the education system there are many more additional differences across the 16 states of Germany.
  • Every state has its own school system

  • Each age group of pupils (born roughly in the same year) forms one or more grades or classes ("Klassen") per school which remain the same for elementary school (years 1 to 4), orientation school (if there are orientation schools in the state), orientation phase (at Gymnasium years 5 to 6), and secondary school (years 5 to 10 in "Realschulen" and "Hauptschulen"; years 5 to 11 (differences between states) in "Gymnasien") respectively. Changes are possible, though, when there is a choice of subjects, e.g. additional languages; Then classes are split (and newly merged) either temporarily or permanently.
  • Most subjects are taught in the pupils' own classroom (imaginable as a "home room"); the pupils stay in their room while the teachers move from class to class. This is common throughout school up to year 11 (5 in Saxony, 7 in Brandenburg). Exceptions exist for PE, art, sciences, music and subjects which are taught in courses.
  • Pupils usually sit at tables, not desks (usually two at one table), sometimes arranged in a semicircle or another geometric or functional shape. During exams in classrooms, the tables are sometimes arranged in columns with one pupil per table (if permitted by the room's capacities) in order to prevent cheating; at many schools, this is only the case for some exams in the two final years of school, i.e. some of the exams counting for the final grade on the high school diploma.

  • School usually starts between 7.30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. and can finish as early as 12; instruction in lower classes almost always ends before lunch. In higher grades, however, afternoon lessons are very common and periods may have longer gaps without teacher supervision between them. Ordinarily, afternoon classes are not offered every day and/or continuously until early evening, leaving pupils with large parts of their afternoons free of school; some schools (Ganztagsschulen), however, offer classes or mainly supervised activities throughout the afternoons in order to offer supervision of the pupils rather than an increase in teaching. Afternoon lessons can continue until 6 o'clock.

  • Depending on school, there are breaks of 5 to 10 minutes after each period. There is no lunch break as school usually finishes before 1:30 for junior school. However, at schools that have "Nachmittagsunterricht" (= afternoon classes) ending after 1:30 there's sometimes a lunch break of 45 to 90 minutes, though many schools lack any special break in general. Some schools that have regular breaks of 5 minutes between periods have additional 15 or 20 minute breaks after the second and fourth period.

  • In German state schools periods are exactly 45 minutes. Each subject is usually taught for two to three periods every week (main subjects like mathematics, German or foreign languages are taught for four to six periods) and usually no more than two periods consecutively. The beginning of every period and, usually, break is announced with an audible signal such as a bell.

  • Exams (which are always supervised) are usually essay
    Essay
    An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

     based, rather than multiple choice
    Multiple choice
    Multiple choice is a form of assessment in which respondents are asked to select the best possible answer out of the choices from a list. The multiple choice format is most frequently used in educational testing, in market research, and in elections-- when a person chooses between multiple...

    . As of 11th grade, exams usually consist of no more than three separate exercises. While most exams in the first grades of secondary schools usually span no more than 90 minutes, exams in 11th to 13th grade may span four periods or more (without breaks).

  • At every type of school, pupils study one foreign language
    Foreign language
    A foreign language is a language indigenous to another country. It is also a language not spoken in the native country of the person referred to, i.e. an English speaker living in Japan can say that Japanese is a foreign language to him or her...

     (in most cases English) for at least five years. The study is, however, far more rigorous and literature oriented in Gymnasium. In Gymnasium, students can choose from a wider range of languages (mostly English, French, Russian (mostly in east German Bundesländer) or Latin) as the first language in 5th grade, and a second mandatory language in 7th grade. Some types of Gymnasium also require an additional third language (such as Spanish, Italian, Russian, Latin or Ancient Greek) or an alternative subject (usually based on one or two other subjects, e.g. English politics (English & politics), dietetics (biology) or media studies (arts & German) in 9th or 11th grade. Gymnasiums ordinarily offer further subjects starting at 11th grade, with some schools offering a fourth foreign language.


  • As state schools are public, smoking is universally prohibited inside the buildings. Smoking teachers are generally asked not to smoke while at or near school.
  • Students over 14 years are permitted to leave the school compound during breaks at some schools. Teachers or school personnel tend to prevent younger pupils from leaving early and strangers from entering the compound without permission.

  • Tidying up the classroom and schoolyard is often the task of the pupils. Unless a group of pupils volunteers, individuals are picked sequentially.

  • Many schools have AGs or Arbeitsgemeinschaften (clubs) for afternoon activities such as sports, music or acting, but participation is not necessarily common. Some schools also have special mediators who are student volunteers trained to resolve conflicts between their classmates or younger pupils.

  • Only few schools have actual sports teams that compete with other schools'. Even if the school has a sports team, students are not necessarily very aware of it.

  • Although most German schools and state universities do not have classrooms equipped with a computer for every student, schools usually have at least one or two computer rooms and most universities offer a limited number of rooms with computers on every desk. State school computers are usually maintained by the same exclusive contractor in the entire city and updated slowly. Internet access is often provided by phone companies free of charge. Especially in schools the teachers' computer skills are often very low.

  • At the end of their schooling, students usually undergo a cumulative written and oral examination (Abitur in Gymnasiums or Abschlussprüfung in Realschulen and Hauptschulen). Students leaving Gymnasium after 9th grade do have the leaving examination of the Hauptschule and after 10th grade do have the Mittlere Reife (leaving examination of the Realschule).

  • After 10th grade Gymnasium students may quit school for at least one year of job education if they do not wish to continue. Realschule and Hauptschule students who have passed their Abschlussprüfung may decide to continue schooling at a Gymnasium, but are sometimes required to take additional courses in order to catch up.

  • Corporal punishment
    Corporal punishment
    Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable...

     was banned 1973 in West Germany and 1949 in East Germany.


The school year

The school year starts after the summer break (different from state to state, usually end/mid of August) and is divided into two terms. There are typically 12 weeks of holidays in addition to public holidays. Exact dates differ between states, but there are generally 6 weeks of summer and two weeks of Christmas holiday. The other holiday periods are given in spring (usually around Easter Sunday) and autumn (the former "harvest holiday", where farmers used to need their children for field work). Schools can also schedule two or three special days off per term.

Model timetables

Students have about 30-40 periods of 45 minutes each per week, but especially secondary schools today switch to 90 minutes lessons (Block) which count as two 'traditional' lessons. To manage classes that are taught three lessons per week there is still one 45 minute lesson each day, mostly between the first two blocks. There are about 12 compulsory subjects: two or three foreign languages (one to be taken for 9 years, another for at least 3 years), physics, biology, chemistry and usually civics/social studies (for at least 5, 7, 3, and 2 years, respectively), and mathematics, music, art, history, German, geography, PE and religious education/ethics for 9 years. A few afternoon activities are offered at German schools – mainly choir or orchestra, sometimes sports, drama or languages. Many of these are offered as semi-scholastic AG's (Arbeitsgemeinschaften – literally "working groups"), which are mentioned, but not officially graded in students' report cards. Other common extracurricular activities are organized as private clubs, which are very popular in Germany.
Sample grade 10 Gymnasium timetable
Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
07.30–08.15 am English Physics Biology Physics French (course)
08.20–09.05 am History English Chemistry Maths Chemistry
09.05–09.25 am break
09.25–10.10 am Latin (course) French (course) Maths Latin (course) Maths
10.15–11.00 am German French (course) Religious studies (course) Latin (course) German
11.00–11.15 am break
11.15–12.00 am–pm Music Mathematics P.E. German Biology
12.05–12.50 pm Religious studies (course) History P.E. English Latin (course)

This timetable reflects a school week at a normal 9-year Gymnasium in North Rhine-Westphalia (which should change to 8 years by 2013). There are three blocks of lessons where every "hour" takes 45 minutes. After each block, there is a break of 15–20 minutes, also after the 6th hour (the number of lessons changes from year to year, so it's possible that one would be in school until four o'clock).
"Nebenfächer" (= minor fields of study) are taught two times a week, "Hauptfächer" (=major subjects) are taught three times.
(Latin is taught four times a week because it is the newly started third language.)

In grades 11–13, 11–12, or 12–13 (depending on the school system), each student majors in two or three subjects ("Leistungskurse", "Grundkurse"/"Profilkurse"). These are usually taught five hours per week. The other subjects are usually taught three periods per week.
Sample grade 12 Gymnasium timetable
Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
08.00–08.45 am Spanish Chemistry Psychology
08.50–09.35 am Spanish Biology Chemistry Psychology
09.50–10.35 am Arts Mathematics Spanish Mathematics Chemistry
10.40–11.25 am Arts Mathematics Spanish Mathematics Chemistry
11.35–12.20 pm Geography/Social Studies+ German History English Biology
12.25–1.10 pm Geography/Social Studies+ German History English Choir
1.10–1.55 pm
2.00–2.45 pm English Religious studies
2.50–3.35 pm English Religious studies
3.50–4.35 pm German
4.40–5.25 pm Physical Education German
5.30–6.15 pm Physical Education


+Geography in the first part of the year, Social Studies in the second

Example of Baden-Württemberg

----
Sample grade 12 Gymnasium timetable (Lower-Saxony)
Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
08.00–08.45 am English Religious studies French Physics German
08.50–09.35 am English Religious studies French Physics German
09.55–10.40 am German Geography/Social Studies (taught in English) Mathematics Geography/Social Studies (taught in English) Mathematics
10.45–11.30 am German Geography/Social Studies (taught in English) Mathematics Geography/Social Studies (taught in English) Mathematics
11.50–12.35 pm Physics Politics-Economy History English French
12.40–1.25 pm Physics Politics-Economy History English French
1.40–2.25 pm Arts "Seminarfach"+ History PE (different sports offered as courses)
2.30–3.15 pm Arts "Seminarfach"+ History PE (different sports offered as courses)


+"Seminarfach" is a compulsory class in which each student is prepared to turn in his/her own research paper at the end of the semester. The class is supposed to train the students' scientific research skills that will be necessary in their later university life.

There are many differences in the 16 states of Germany and there are alternatives to this basic pattern, e.g. Waldorfschulen or other private schools. Adults can also go back to evening school and take the Abitur exam.
Sample grade 10 timetable (Gymnasium specialiced on Music, Bavaria)
Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
08.00–08.45 am Latin Biology R.E. Math Biology
08.45–09.30 am German Physics R.E. Politics-Economy Instrument
09.50–10.35 am English English Politics-Economy P.E. Chemistry
10.35–11.20 am History Latin Mathematics P.E. Music
11.30–12.15 pm Art Social-science Latin Geography English
12.15–1.00 pm Art Mathematics English German German
2.00–2.45 pm Chemistry Physics
2.45–3.30 pm Geography Latin
3.30–4.15 pm Music Latin (extra course)
4.15–5.00 pm Mathematics (extra course)

Organizational aspects

In Germany, education is the responsibility of the states (Länder
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

) and part of their constitutional sovereignty (Kulturhoheit der Länder). Teachers are employed by the Ministry of Education for the state and usually have a job for life after a certain period (verbeamtet
Beamter
The German word Beamter means civil servant, and is pronounced , with a glottal stop between the 'e' and the 'a'...

) (which, however, is not comparable in timeframe nor competitiveness to the typical tenure track, e.g. at universities in the US). This practice depends on the state and is currently changing. A parents' council is elected to voice the parents' views to the school's administration. Each class elects one or two "Klassensprecher" (class presidents, if two are elected usually one is male and the other female), the class presidents meet several times a year as the "Schülerrat" (students' council). A team of school presidents is also elected by the pupils each year, their main purpose is organizing school parties, sports tournaments and the like for their fellow students. The local town is responsible for the school building and employs the janitorial and secretarial staff. For an average school of 600 – 800 students, there may be two janitors and one secretary. School administration is the responsibility of the teachers, who receive a reduction in their teaching hours if they participate.

Recent developments

After much public debate about Germany's perceived low international ranking in Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment
The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide evaluation in OECD member countries of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years...

 (PISA), some things are beginning to change. There has been a trend towards a less ideological discussion on how to develop schools. These are some of the new trends:
  • Establishing federal standards on quality of teaching
  • More practical orientation in teacher training
  • Transfer of some responsibility from the Ministry of Education to local school


Since 1990s, a few changes have already been taking place in many schools:
  • Introduction of bilingual education
    Bilingual education
    Bilingual education involves teaching academic content in two languages, in a native and secondary language with varying amounts of each language used in accordance with the program model.-Bilingual education program models:...

     in some subjects
  • Experimentation with different styles of teaching
  • Equipping all schools with computers and Internet access
  • Creation of local school philosophy and teaching goals ("Schulprogramm"), to be evaluated regularly
  • Reduction of Gymnasium school years (Abitur after grade 12) and introduction of afternoon periods as in many other western countries

Gesamtschulen vs. streaming

There has been a public debate about streaming
Tracking (education)
Tracking is separating pupils by academic ability into groups for all subjects or certain classes and curriculum within a school. It may be referred as streaming or phasing in certain schools. In a tracking system, the entire school population is assigned to classes according to whether the...

 students by ability. Opponents of streaming by ability claim that streaming is unfair and have pointed out that countries that performed very well in PISA, such as Finland, do not stream by ability. Proponents of streaming have pointed out that German comprehensive schools ranked below other German schools on PISA and that children from the lower socio-economic groups attending comprehensive schools fare worse in PISA than middle-class students attending the same schools.

The education of craftspeople


Germany has high standards in the education of craftspeople. Historically very few people attended college. In the 1950s for example, 80 percent had only Volksschule ("primary school")-Education of 6 or 7 years. Only 5 percent of youngsters entered college at this time and still less graduated. In the 1960s, 6 percent of youngsters entered college. In 1961 there were still 8,000 cities in which no youngsters received secondary education. However, this does not mean that Germany was a country of uneducated people. In fact, many of those who did not receive secondary education were highly skilled craftspeople and members of the upper middle class. Even though more people attend college today, a craftsperson is still highly valued in German society.

Historically (prior to the 20th century) the relationship between a master craftsman and his apprentice was paternalistic. Apprentices were often very young when entrusted to a master craftsman by their parents. It was seen as the master's responsibility not only to teach the craft, but also to instill the virtues of a good craftsman. He was supposed to teach honour, loyalty, fair-mindedness, courtesy and compassion for the poor. He was also supposed to offer spiritual guidance, to ensure his apprentices fulfilled their religious duties and to teach them to "honour the Lord" (Jesus Christ) with their lives. The master craftsman who failed to do this would lose his reputation and would accordingly be dishonoured - a very bad fate in those days. The apprenticeship ended with the so called Freisprechung (exculpation). The master announced in front of the trade heading that the apprentice had been virtuous and God-loving.

The young person now had the right to call himself a "Geselle" (journeyman). He had two options: either to work for a master or to become a master himself. Working for another master had several disadvantages. One was that, in many cases, the journeyman who was not a master was not allowed to marry and found a family. Because the church disapproved of sex outside of marriage, he was obliged to become a master if he did not want to spend his life celibate. Accordingly, many of the so-called "Geselle" decided to go on a journey in order to become a master. This was called "Waltz" or Journeyman years
Journeyman years
The journeyman years refer to the tradition of setting out on a journey for several years after completing apprenticeship as a craftsman. The tradition dates back to medieval times and is still alive in German-speaking countries...

.

In those days, the crafts were called the "virtuous crafts" and the virtuosness of the craftspersons was greatly respected. For example, according to one source, a person should be greeted from "the bricklayer craftspersons in the town, who live in repectability, die in respectability, who strive for respectability and who apply repectability to their actions" In those days, the concept of the "virtuous crafts" stood in contrast to the concept of "academic freedom" as Brüdermann and Jost noticed.

Nowadays, the education of craftspersons has changed - in particular self esteem and the concept of respectability. Yet even today, a craftsperson does sometimes refer to the "craftspersons codex of virtues" and the crafts sometimes may be referred to as the "virtuous crafts" and a craftsperson who gives a blessing at a roofing ceremony may, in many cases, remind of the "virtues of the crafts I am part of". Also certain virtues are ascribed to certain crafts. For example a person might be called "always on time like a bricklayer" to describe punctuality. On the other hand, "virtue" and "respectability", which in the past had been the center of the life of any craftsperson became less and less important for such education. Today, a young person who wants to start an apprenticeship must first find an "Ausbilder": this may be a master craftsperson, a master in the industrial sector (Industriemeister) or someone else with proof of suitable qualifications in the training of apprentices. The "Ausbilder" must also provide proof of no criminal record and proof of respectability. The Ausbilder has to be at least 24 years of age. The Ausbilder has several duties, such as 1) teach the craft, 2) teach the techniques, 3) instill character, 4) instill social skills. In some cases, the Ausbilder must also provide board and lodging. Agreement is reached on these points before the apprenticeship begins. The apprentice will also receive payment for his work. According to §17 Berufsbildungsgesetz, a first year apprentice will be paid less than someone who has been an apprentice for longer. An Ausbilder who provides board and lodging may set this off against the payment made. In the past, many of those who applied for an apprenticeship had only primary school education. Nowadays, only those with secondary school education apply for apprenticeships because secondary school attendance has become compulsory. In some trades, it has even become difficult for those holding the Hauptschulabschluss
Hauptschulabschluss
The Hauptschulabschluss is a school leaving certificate in Germany. The Hauptschulabschluss may be awarded to students who graduate from a Hauptschule or Abendhauptschule...

 to find an apprenticeship because more and more pupils leave school with the Realschulabschluss or Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

. The apprenticeship takes three years. During that time, the apprentice is trained by the Ausbilder and also attends a vocational school. This is called the "German model" or "dual education system
Dual education system
A dual education system combines apprenticeships in a company and vocational education at a vocational school in one course. This system is practiced in several countries, notably Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Switzerland, but also...

" ("Duale Ausbildung").

Application for Fachhochschule or University

There are numerous ways to achieve admission to German colleges. The most traditional route has always been graduation from a Gymnasium with the Abitur; however this has become less common over time. As of 2008, less than half of university freshmen in some German states had graduated from a Gymnasium. Even in Bavaria (a state with a policy of strengthening the Gymnasium) only 56 percent of freshmen had graduated from a Gymnasium. The rest were awarded the Abitur from another school or did not hold the Abitur certification at all. Any person with the prerequisite qualifications may apply for Fachhochschule or University in Germany, regardless of race, gender, religion or political opinion.

Students wishing to attend university in Germany must, as a rule, hold the Abitur or Fachabitur certification. Lacking this, they must present additional proof that they will be able to keep up with their fellow students. This may take the form of a test of cognitive functioning or evidence of passing the "Begabtenprüfung" ("Aptitude Test", consisting of a written and oral exam). In some cases, students that do not hold the Abitur may enter university even if they do not pass the aptitude or cognitive functioning tests if they 1) have received previous vocational training, and 2) have worked at least three years and passed the "Eingangsprüfung" (entrance exam). Such is the case, for example, in Hamburg.

High school diplomas received from states outside of Germany are, in many cases, not considered equivalent to an Abitur, but rather a Realschulabschluss and therefore do not qualify the bearer for admission to a German university. However, it is still possible for such students to apply to a German university if they can provide proof of the requisite qualifications. For example, foreign students with a combined math and verbal score of 1300 on the SAT
SAT
The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. The SAT is owned, published, and developed by the College Board, a nonprofit organization in the United States. It was formerly developed, published, and scored by the Educational Testing Service which still...

 or 28 on the ACT may qualify for university admission.

Students who wish to attend a Fachhochschule
Fachhochschule
A Fachhochschule or University of Applied Sciences is a German type of tertiary education institution, sometimes specialized in certain topical areas . Fachhochschulen were founded in Germany and later adopted by Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Greece...

 must hold the Abitur or the Fachhochschulreife or other evidence that they will be able to keep up with their fellow students.

The admission process

There are several quotas ensuring that the university admission process in Germany is fair.
  • at least 2 percent of the students at any university must be so called "Härtefälle" cases (hardship cases or disadvantaged students). A student may be counted as a hardship case if 1) he or she suffers from an severe illness or disability or 2) he or she is socially disadvantaged (or from a disadvantaged family) or 3) he or she is of partial German ancestry born outside of Germany ("Spätaussiedler") and attended a university in the country of origin. Other conditions may also qualify a student as a hardship case; hardship cases are granted preferential treatment and admission
  • 20 percent of available admission slots must be granted to students who graduated from school in the top 20% of their class (as determined by GPA)
  • 20 percent of slots must be granted to students who have been on the waiting list the longest
  • The other admission slots may be awarded at the university's discretion. Criteria universities commonly apply are: 1) grade point average (used most often), 2) personal character as evaluated in interviews, 3) personal character as evidenced through essays or letters, and 4) performance on entrance exams.


According to German law universities are not permitted to discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to persons on basis of race, ethnic group, gender, or social class unless in the "hardship cases", which must be granted preferential treatment.

Tuition fees

Most colleges are state-funded. In 2010, five of the 16 states of Germany charged tuition fees at state-funded colleges, while in 11 states tuition was provided free of charge. There are no university-sponsored scholarships in Germany, but a number of private and public institutions award scholarships, usually to cover living costs and books. Moreover, there is a law (BAFöG or Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz) which ensures that needy people can get up to 650€ per month for 4–5 years if they or their parents cannot afford all the costs involved with studying. Part (typically half) of this money is an interest-free loan which has to be repaid. Many universities planning to introduce tuition fees have announced their intention to use part of the refunded money to create scholarship programmes, although the exact details are mostly vague.
Bundesland Percentage of college, university or Fachhochschule graduates in employment by Bundesland in 2009; expressed as a percentage of all those in employment, percentage in the general population might be lower as college graduates are the group least likely to be out of work
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

 
6,4 %
Rheinland-Pfalz  7,4 %
Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

 
7,9 %
Niedersachsen  7,9 %
Sachsen-Anhalt  8,8 %
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern  8,9 %
Nordrhein-Westfalen  9,5%
Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 
9,6%
Bayern  10,0 %
Thüringen
Thuringia
The Free State of Thuringia is a state of Germany, located in the central part of the country.It has an area of and 2.29 million inhabitants, making it the sixth smallest by area and the fifth smallest by population of Germany's sixteen states....

 
10,1 %
Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 states of Germany. Baden-Württemberg is in the southwestern part of the country to the east of the Upper Rhine, and is the third largest in both area and population of Germany's sixteen states, with an area of and 10.7 million inhabitants...

 
10,7 %
Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 
11,2 %
Hessen  11,7 %
Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 
13,0 %
Sachsen  13,0 %
Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 
13,9 %

Student Population

Since the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the number of young people entering university has more than tripled, but university attendance is still lower than that of many other European nations. This is partly because of the dual education system
Dual education system
A dual education system combines apprenticeships in a company and vocational education at a vocational school in one course. This system is practiced in several countries, notably Germany, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Switzerland, but also...

, with its strong emphasis on apprenticeship
Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

s (see also German model
German model
The term German model is most often used in economics to describe post-World War II West Germany's means of using innovative industrial relations, vocational training, and closer relationships between the financial and industrial sectors to cultivate economic prosperity.- Industrial relations...

) and because many jobs which do require a college degree in other countries (such as nursing) require only a qualification from a school (such as Krankenschwesternschule), which does not count as college.

The rate of college graduates varies by Bundesland. It is the highest in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and the lowest in Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

.

While the organizational structure claims to go back to the university reforms introduced by Wilhelm von Humboldt
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt was a German philosopher, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of Humboldt Universität. He is especially remembered as a linguist who made important contributions to the philosophy of language and to the theory and practice...

 in the early 19th century(Humboldt University of Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

), it has been criticized by some (including the German-born, former Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 president Gerhard Casper
Gerhard Casper
Gerhard Casper was the 9th president of Stanford University from 1992-2000. He is currently the Peter and Helen Bing Professor in Undergraduate Education at Stanford...

) for having an unbalanced focus, more on education and less on research, and the lack of independence from state intervention. Indeed many of today's German public universities bear less resemblance to the original Humboldt vision than, for example, a typical US institution.
German university students largely choose their own programme of study and professors choose their own subjects for research and teaching. This elective system often results in students spending many years at university before graduating, and is currently under review. There are no fixed classes of students who study together and graduate together. Students change universities according to their interests and the strengths of each university. Sometimes students attend two, three or more different universities in the course of their studies. This mobility means that at German universities there is a freedom and individuality unknown in the USA, the UK, or France. While the overall mobility is high, the number of west Germans entering universities in the former east is low, whereas many students from the former east matriculate in west German institutions, raising doubts about the status of the "inner reunification" of the two parts of the country. The weekly Die Zeit
Die Zeit
Die Zeit is a German nationwide weekly newspaper that is highly respected for its quality journalism.With a circulation of 488,036 and an estimated readership of slightly above 2 million, it is the most widely read German weekly newspaper...

 dubbed the former East as the "despised paradise".

Upon leaving school, students may choose to go on to university; however, most male students will have to serve nine months of military
Conscription in Germany
Germany had conscription for male citizens between 1956 and 2011. On 22 November 2010, the German Minister of Defence proposed to the government to put conscription into abeyance on 1 July 2011...

 or alternative service (Zivildienst
Zivildienst
Zivildienst is the civilian branch of the national service systems in Austria and Switzerland. In Germany as well Zivildienst was the alternative service to military service until suspension of conscription in 2011...

) beforehand.

While at Gymnasium a pupil cannot take courses leading to university credits. This might have to do with the fact that the credit system is thus far unknown in Germany, although it is being introduced with the Bologna process
Bologna process
The purpose of the Bologna Process is the creation of the European Higher Education Area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention...

 that is intended to unify education and degrees for all EU states. What counts at the end of schooling are certificates ("Scheine") issued by teachers proving that the required courses (and/or exams) were successfully taken. Exceptionally, pupils might not receive certificates for courses they had attend before officially matriculating at the university (i.e. while at Gymnasium), although their attendance may sometimes be counted as such. Usually there are few required specific courses, rather students choose from a more or less broad range of classes in their field of interest, while this varies greatly depending upon the choice of subject. Once a pupil has acquired the prescribed number of such certificates and can (if a Magister student) verify regular attendance at a minimum number of optional courses, the pupil can decide to register for the final examinations. In many cases, the grades of those certificates are discarded and the final diploma grade consists only of the grades of the final exams and master thesis. This can potentially impair motivation to achieve excellence, although most try to aim for higher scores in order to comply with requirements for BAFöG or scholarships.

At Gymnasium, pupils are under strict observation by teachers, and their attendance at all courses is checked regularly. At German universities, however, class attendance is only checked for courses in which the student requires a certificate, and attendance checks are usually a lot more liberal (usually a signature or initials are considered proof of attendance, even if the signing is not supervised) and sporadic, although repeated failure to attend a course without a proper excuse (i.e. sick note) usually results in a failure to get a certificate. Life at German universities may seem anonymous and highly individual at first, but most students find a group of fellow students with common interests in their first year, and then often take courses together and remain in this group up to the final examinations.

While there are curricula for the first two or three years in the sciences, in the liberal arts, every student selects lectures and seminars (usually admission to the Zwischenprüfung requires three certificates, which may each be earned in one of several different seminars), and takes the exams at the end of the study period. Each student decides when the time has come to take the final exam. Some take the minimum 4 years, most take 5–6 years, some may even spend 10 years at university (often because they changed subjects several times). After 13 years at school plus maybe 1 year in the armed forces, graduates may sometimes be almost 30 years old when they apply for their first real job, although most will have had a number of part-time jobs or temporary employments between semesters.

If they have successfully studied at university for two years (after a Zwischenprüfung/Vordiplom), students can transfer to other countries for graduate studies. Usually they finish studies after 4–6 years with a degree called the Diplom
Diplom
A Diplom is an academic degree in the German-speaking countries Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and a similarly named degree in some other European countries including Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Finland , Greece, Hungary, Russia, Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Ukraine...

 (in the sciences) or Magister
Magister
Magister is Latin for "master" or "teacher." It may refer to:* The Magister , an academic degreePositions or titles* A magister equitum, or Master of the Horse...

 (in the arts), which is equivalent to a M.Sc. or M.A., or a Magister Artium.

A special kind of degree is the Staatsexamen
Staatsexamen
The ' is a German government licensing examination that future doctors, teachers, pharmacists, food chemists and jurists have to pass to be allowed to work in their profession. The examination is generally organized by government examination agencies which are under the authority of the...

. This is a government licensing examination that future doctors, teachers, lawyers, judges, public prosecutors and pharmacists are required to pass to be allowed to work in their profession. Students usually study at university for 4–8 years before they take the first Staatsexamen. Afterwards teachers and jurists go on to work in their future jobs for two years, before they are able to take the second Staatsexamen, which tests their practical abilities. The first Staatsexamen is equivalent to a M.Sc., M.A, LL.M. or LL.B.

However, there is another type of post-Abitur university training in Germany: the Fachhochschule
Fachhochschule
A Fachhochschule or University of Applied Sciences is a German type of tertiary education institution, sometimes specialized in certain topical areas . Fachhochschulen were founded in Germany and later adopted by Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Greece...

n (Universities of Applied Science), which offer degrees similar to those at a traditional university, but often concentrate on applied science (as the English name suggests). At a traditional university, it is an important to study "why" a method is scientifically right: however, this is less important at Universities of Applied Science. Here the emphasis is placed on what systems and methods exist, where they come from, their advantages and disadvantages, how to use them in practice and when are they should be used and when not. Students start their courses together and graduate (more or less) together and there is little choice in their schedule (but this must not be at several studies). To get on-the-job experience, internship semesters are a mandatory part of studying at a Fachhochschule. Therefore the students at U-o-A-S are better trained in transferring learned knowledge and skills into practice while students of traditional universities are better trained in method developing. But as professors at U-o-A-S have done their doctorate at traditional universities, and such universities are have regard to the importance of practice, both types are coming closer and closer. It is nowadays more a differentiation between practice orientation and theoretical orientation of science.

After about 4–5 years (depending on how a student arranges the courses taken, and whether courses have to be repeated) a Fachhochschule student has a complete education and can go right into working life. Fachhochschule graduates traditionally received a title that starting with "Dipl." (Diploma) and ends with "(FH)", e.g. "Dipl. Ing. (FH)" for a graduate engineer from a Fachhochschule. The FH Diploma is roughly equivalent to a Bachelor degree. An FH Diploma does not usually qualify the holder for a Ph.D. program directly—many universities require an additional entrance exam or participation in theoretical classes from FH candidates. The last point is based on history. When FHs or U-o-A-S were set up, the professors were mainly teachers from higher schools but did not hold a doctorate. This has completely changed since the end of the eighties, but professors of traditional universities still regard themselves as "the real professors", which indeed is no longer true. Due to the Bologna process, bachelor and master degrees are being introduced to traditional universities and universities of applied sciences in the same way.

All courses at the roughly 250 traditional universities and universities of applied sciences used to be free - like any school in Germany. One might also say the government offered a full scholarship to everyone. However, students that took longer than the Regelstudienzeit ("regular length of studies", a statistically calculated average that is the minimum amount of time necessary to successfully graduate) did have to pay Langzeitstudiengebühren ("long-time study fees") of about 500 EUR per semester, in a number of states. Today there are a few private institutions (especially business schools) that charge tuition fees, but they do not enjoy the same high recognition and high standards as public universities. Another negative impact of private institutions in Germany is that they usually offer only one (or a few) subjects - a situation that results in their failure to achieve high recognition in international competition.

A student has to pay for board and lodging plus books. Above a certain age, student health insurance (50 EUR per month) is compulsory, and there are always other service charges (40-100 EUR per semester). Students often enjoy very cheap public transport (Semesterticket) in and around the university town. Inexpensive accommodation is available from the Studentenwerk, an independent non-profit organization partially funded by the state. This may cost 150 EUR per month, without food. Otherwise an apartment can cost 500 EUR, but often three to five students share an apartment. Food is about 100 EUR (figures for 2002). Many banks provide free accounts to students up to a certain age (usually around 25).

The German Constitutional Court recently ruled that a federal law prohibiting tuition fees is unconstitutional, on the grounds that education is the sole responsibility of the states. Following this ruling many state legislatures have passed laws that allow, but do not officially force, universities to demand tuition up to a limit, usually €500. In 2010 tution fees at statefunded universities existed in five States of Germany. In preparation to comply with several local laws aiming to give universities more liberty in their decisions but requiring them to be more economical (effectively privatising them), many universities hastily decided to introduce the fees, usually without any exceptions other than a bare minimum. As a direct result, student demonstrations in the scale of 100 to 10000 participants are frequent in the affected cities, most notably Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

 in Hesse
Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

, where the state officially considered introducing universal tuition fees in the €1500 range.

Most students will move to the university town if it is far away. Getting across Germany from Flensburg to Konstanz takes a full day (1000 km or 620 miles). But, as mentioned above, there is no university-provided student housing on campus in Germany, since most campuses are scattered all over the city for historical reasons. Traditionally, university students rented a private room in town, which was their home away from home. This is no longer the standard, but one still finds this situation. One third to one half of the students works to make a little extra money, often resulting in a longer stay at university.

Figures for Germany are roughly:
  • 1,000,000 new students at all schools put together for one year
  • 400,000 Abitur graduations
  • 30,000 doctoral dissertations per year
  • 1000 habilitation
    Habilitation
    Habilitation is the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in several European and Asian countries. Earned after obtaining a research doctorate, such as a PhD, habilitation requires the candidate to write a professorial thesis based on independent...

    s per year (possible way to qualify as a professor)


Degrees:

Recently, changes relating to the so-called Bologna Agreement have started to come into effect to install a more internationally acknowledged system, which includes new course structures - the (hitherto unknown) Bachelor degree and the Master degree - and ECTS credits.

In the majority of subjects, students can only study for Bachelor, as "Diplom", or "Magister" courses do not accept new enrollments, and are available to"Diplom" students who are in their final year. (These student are under a limit unlike before.)

The bachelor/master system has been under a lot of criticism especially by students, as the curriculum are often accused of just the same courses as under the old system squeezed into the 3 years that most Bachelor courses are in Germany, or that they only cover the curriculum to the previous "Vordiplom" an examination taken at about half point of the course.

In either case a major complaint is the workload, and the lack of compatibility within subjects not only throughout Europe or the World but also within Germany, or even within Universities.
This leaves many students unable to go for a year abroad as they don't have time because of time limited modules and the lack of compatibility of courses.

In addition, there are the courses leading to Staatsexamen (state examinations), e. g. for lawyers and teachers, that qualify for entry into German civil service, but which are not recognized elsewhere as an academic degree (although the courses are sometimes identical). Some "Diplom" courses still prevail.

On the whole, German universities are internationally recognized and perform well (although worse than American or British universites) in international university rankings. For example, Germany has, taken en masse, the third best result in the QS World University Rankings
QS World University Rankings
The QS World University Rankings is a ranking of the world’s top 500 universities by Quacquarelli Symonds using a method that has published annually since 2004....

 2011.

See also

  • Abitur after twelve years
    Abitur after twelve years
    after twelve years, or in eight years describes the reduction from the duration in the from nine to eight school years in many of the States of Germany. In the States Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern the reduction took place from seven to six years because, there, primary...

  • Education in East Germany
  • Music schools in Germany
    Music schools in Germany
    Music schools in Germany cater for students from an early age to postgraduate degrees. They exist within and outwith the formal education system. Fulltime music education with Musikgymnasiums can begin as early as 10 years of age.-Musikschulen:...

  • List of schools in Germany
  • List of universities in Germany

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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