Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Educational System in Germany

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Educational System in Germany

Germany is one the world pioneers in ranking best educational system. Studies show that Germany has a much higher percentage of high-quality performance than many advanced countries; Comparing to US, German15-year-old students outperformed their U.S. peers by 32 points in math, 27 points in science, and 10 points in reading. Seventeen percent of German students perform at or above the advanced level, while only 8 percent of U.S. students achieve that level. Overall, the scores of students in Germany are higher than in the United States and many European and Asian countries.
The very first step for children to leave their home is to go to preschool, which is called “Kindergarten”. Contrary to public opinion, Kindergarten in Germany is usually not a state supported school system and therefore not free and also not compulsory. Nonetheless, the majority of children between the ages of 3 to 6 go to voluntary communities or church-supported facilities where playing outside and socializing with other children are the main concepts. The next stage for a child is to attend “Grundschule” (primary school), which is compulsory from this stage on.  A special event is in the first day of class, which is called “Einschulung.” Each child gets a “Schultüte” (a large cornet of cardboard filled with sweets and little presents), which have different designs and they proudly carry them around the whole day, until they are finally allowed to unpack their presents. They have now successfully been introduced to society as “school children” and passed their rite of passage. Here, the children are taught basic math, grammar and reading, sciences, art, music, PE, religion or ethics lessons, and English. There is also a big stress on social developments, as well, like self-reliance, problem solving skills, social interactions, etc.
After the Grundschule, the children get split up and transfer to one of the different types of secondary schools. For all schools, starting in primary school, parents and children can decide which school they’d like to go to; one of the options is “Hauptschule.” (Grades 5 - 10)The main objective here is to prepare the students to enter the world of work with focus on vocation-oriented courses and apprenticeships. It is generally considered the least demanding type of the secondary schools and has gotten less and less popular throughout the nation as an option. After the students earn their degree at Hauptschule, students often continue with a vocational training in different kinds of schools or businesses. The second option is “Realschule” (grades 5-10) designed for students who pursue mid-level and nonprofessional careers, while also allowing them with the possibility to access secondary level education (Abitur) and a university entrance. There is a wider range of subjects (in comparison to the “Hauptschule”) and more advanced courses. If the grades of a student are good enough, it is also possible to be transferred to a “Gymnasium,” which will be elaborated on in the following. By the way, it is possible to transfer between the different types of schools, but the grades have to be good enough and the school has to accept the students.The third option is “Gymnasium,” (grades 5-12 or 5-13) prepares students more specifically for university education. The curriculum is more academic in comparison to the other schools and also has a long history in Germany, dating back to 1528. In these last years, students earn their “Abitur” (final examination and degree), where students are able to choose which higher classes they would like to focus on. They have more variety of classes to focus and specialize on, but also need to fulfill certain requirements. Depending on the states, it varies if the Abitur is from grade 11-12 or 11-13.
The “Gesamtschule” (grade 5-10 and 11-13) is another concept which has different goals. This school is meant for children with all sorts of different abilities and combines elements from the other school systems already described. It was introduced later than the other school types. Students can gain their certificates from all the different schools. And depending on their school level, they can also do their “Abitur” from grade 11-13. This model would come nearest to the U.S. high school system.
Sonderschule/Förderschule The last type is designed for children with special educational, mental and physical needs. Here, the teachers have to be trained specially and the classes are usually smaller than in regular schools. There is a current trend toward a more inclusive education model and children with disabilities in most states also have the choice to attend a regular school if they want to.
Legally, Germany has a compulsory education law that good to be recommended in Afghanistan. The school day usually starts at 8:00 am and finished around 1:15 pm. But in some schools, there are full days of education, which is most common in the Gesamtschule with study hours for homework and extracurricular activities. Each day has different subjects; some subjects are taught two times a week and some 3 times. One class lasts for 45 minutes and sometimes they can be combined to 90 minute classes. The break periods are usually short (5 minutes), with two longer breaks (20 minutes and 15 minutes) per day. Most schools have no cafeteria and students only eat snacks there and their main meal at home. The school year is also different; It consists of two semesters and normally starts around August or September. The breaks are longer in fall, winter and spring where students get two full weeks off. In summer, on the other hand, they are shorter with only 6 weeks off. The dates for vacation are also different for each of the states, so usually the break times are on a different date which is good because otherwise everyone would be taking vacation at the same time.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@ gmail.com

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