A Brief Outline of the German Education System
As is well known Germany is a federal state with 16 states, they are called “Bundesländer”. Each of them are responsible for their own education system. Cologne belongs to the Federal State of Nordrhein-Wastfahlen, it is abbrivated NRW.
In NRW education system is divided into primary Education: these are Kindergartens, primary schools and secondary education schools. The secondary education is divided in 4 different School-levels, plus seperate instiution for disabled people. So far after 4 years of primary school education, if you are a very good pupil , you can go to a high level school called gymnasium, that is aimed to prepare you mainly for university education.
There are also Gesamtschule-schools. They have all kinds of pupils and if you perform well enough, after secondary school you can also attend the highschool level in these schools and go on to attend a University. Third option is Realschule and Hauptschule. These are for children that pursue non-university education. They are for 5 years. After, you can make a pre-education for example for a craft- profession and so on.
Besides there are also schools with special pedagogical program like Montessori or Steiner-schools. These schools are like private schools. I am going to a high school that focuses mainly on art subjects like music, theater, painting use etc..
However, I will start with the pros of the German education system:
It is nearly without payment, only in private school you have to pay fees.
Usually you have well educated teachers with two subjects like PE and History for example.
You get a comprehensive and diverse education
All schools must complete with the same central exam. So you have equal conditions for all
Usually you partake in more than one internships to get better prepared for a job. You have the choice to get non-govermental education. You also have a number of sports and other clubs to participate in for low budget.
However in my view the cons are:
You have a lot of subjects, curriculum to learn, you get large amounts of home work and you have to manage all with your parents. So if you are a child of non-educated people you have a low chance to perform well in an exam: that means no equal chances.
Also the early division in schools with different levels for succsessful pupils and so on highlights non-equality. Also an important issue is; you have sparse leisure time. It’s really hard, you have 32-35 hours of school each week topped with 2-4 hours of time spent preparing for homework assignments. Support from teachers is a big concern. They are mostly overworked.
In most schools, teachers are not well versed in latest media and equipment know how.
So you have to go 13 years to school for finishing plus university education.
Another special point is, in Germany you don’t have school-uniforms, therefore many cases of mobbing are happening.
The curriculum focuses on European themes on thinking, culture and history. Focus on other cultures from around the world is rudimentary.
And therefore languages like Polish, Russian, Turkish, Arabic or Chinese aren’t common in Germany despite large populations representing them for example close to 5 million Turks, 2 million Russians and one million Polish.
So these are the main pros and cons of the German education system.