Germany: Growing Issues in Education System

The quality of education in almost all German provinces is worsening. Compared to last year, the so-called Education Monitor 2018, an extensive study, registered regresses all over the country. Especially the quality of schools themselves has been suffering, according to the ‘Initiative Social Market Economy’ (Initiative Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft, INSM), which released the study.

The Education Monitor shows that there are issues with integration at Germany’s schools, and the fight against educational disadvantage, which had been relatively successful for a while, is stalling.

Fourth-graders in Germany know less about mathematics or the German language than they did a year ago. Furthermore, the percentage of foreign youngsters who leave school without diplomas has increased substantially.

In Germany, education is an area the provinces decide upon on their own, which is why there are big differences. For instance, primary school in Berlin has six grades and therefore takes six years, while in most other provinces it has four grades.

According to the study, Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg and the Saarland have the most efficient educational systems. In Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost province in Germany, things have slightly improved.

For the first time in a decade, Berlin is not last on the ranking list anymore, but hit the 13th position out of a total of 16. In the German capital, the number of school dropouts has decreased among both Germans and foreign nationals, while the dropout quote is still higher than it should be.

Foreign language classes at vocational colleges in Germany have improved, according to the Education Monitor 2018. While this sounds positive, especially English continues to be an issue in the country’s education system. Some kids learn English in the kindergarten, some start in first grade, and many learn English from firth grade only.

This means the knowledge gaps some fifth-graders have and the complete lack of knowledge of others slows down everyone else. There is also a general problem with the qualification of English teachers in primary schools.

And there is even more bad news: In comparison, Germany is not doing too well in the area of digitalization. Regarding the IT competence of students, and the usage of computers at school, other countries are far ahead. In this particular area, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia are doing better than the remaining 14 provinces.

Hubertus Pellengahr, the head of the INSM, said for the digitalization Germany needed “better equipment for schools and more training for teachers.” He also called for “an exchange regarding innovative digital teaching and learning concepts, as well as regular audits of both students and teachers in connection with the digital competencies.”

A total of 93 indicators were included in the new study.

Saxony hit the first position in the study’s ranking list of German provinces. The only weakness registered here was the digitalization aspect. Thuringia is second. This German state has had less issues in the area of IT at schools, but more problems regarding integration.

Bavaria, a state which usually does well in education studies, became third on that list. Baden-Württemberg and the city state of Hamburg hit the fourth and fifth place, respectively, while Bremen, Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia are at the bottom of the list.

The Education Monitor 2018 (Bildungsmonitor 2018, German only) can be accessed here.