Challenges in the German educational system

Because of its well-structured and tough educational system, Germany is regarded for having exceptionally high academic standards. Students are rigorously assessed at each stage of their education, to the point where if a student fails to meet the required minimum grades in two or more classes, he or she must repeat the entire year to ensure that they always meet the requirements to advance to the next class level. The German educational institution is notable for its strong job stability, free qualified educators, low youth unemployment figures, classes that are tailored to the kids’ learning styles and positive manual labour. Germany, on the other hand, continues to have problems with its educational system.


Structure of schooling system

Germany have a 3-tiered system for secondary education that ranks students by their ability after finishing elementary school. This system then determines whether students will have access to higher education or not. Its education system separates students by their educational abilities, and the tracking starts since 4th grade, which is way too early.

The German states, with the exception of Bavaria, have abandoned the three-pathway model of academically oriented Gymnasium, vocationally oriented Realschule, and vocationally oriented Hauptschule. Apart from Gymnasium, the most common school types now offered are integrated (all three tracks combined), semi-integrated (Hauptschule and Realschule combined), and cooperative (all three tracks combined) (all or two tracks combined with tracking from grade 6).

Furthermore, its dual-track educational system divides pupils into those who are regarded qualified for higher education and others who are funnelled to vocational schools after finishing ten years of school, resulting in inequalities. As a result, many German students drop out of school and are instead placed in job preparation programs rather than vocational training programs. Differences in students’ learning and grading techniques, as well as varying tracking recommendations from their elementary school teachers contribute to educational challenges in German

Secondary education and has a major impact on a person’s career paths. Gymnasium schools cater to the most academically able students, leading to entry qualification for higher education. Realschule schools cater to more vocationally inclined students, leading to apprentice programs, technical schools, and access to Gymnasiums, and Hauptschule schools catering to students with low academic ability, social, or behavioural problems. These constitute the background and subsequent starting point for further education and training for German scholars. The German education system is determined by individual states of Germany, resulting in significant educational disparities.


Socio-economic backgrounds

In Germany, a child’s academic performance is intimately tied to their parents’ backgrounds, with immigrants and their offspring being disproportionately affected by structural inequality. Inequality in the German educational system is a well-known issue. Studies have shown for decades that pupils from more priveleged socioeconomic backgrounds routinely outperform their peers, even when they have similar cognitive aptitude. These children are more likely to be recommended for the top educational tracks in the country and to enter university.The education system is confronted by the challenge of creating equal opportunity for individuals with different backgrounds.

In 2018, UNICEF looked into the educational equity of preschool and school-aged children in 41 industrialised countries. Germany was ranked in the center of the group, ahead of the United States and Australia, but behind smaller economies like Lithuania, Denmark, and the number one country, Latvia.

Immigrant students and students from lower-income households are also less likely to advance in their education, as education in rural areas of Germany lags behind that in cities. German schooling has also been chastised for creating huge divides in educational opportunity between children from affluent families and disadvantaged children/children from immigrant families. Students from a higher socioeconomic background outperform their lower socioeconomic peers with identical cognitive ability, and they are also more likely to be recommended for the highest educational tracks in Germany and to enter universities. Children from migrant families are also four times more likely to be affected by social, financial, and educational risk factors, with students from Western/Northern European countries having a higher probability of having a university degree than students from Eastern Europe/Turkey.

Evidence shows that children from Turkish, Kurdish, or Arabic backgrounds  – known in Germany as “migrant” children even if they are second or third generation immigrants—are disproportionately represented in the lowest level Hauptschule, subjecting them to a cycle of marginalization.

Migrant children in Germany attend Hauptschule twice as often as those from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Despite some progress, migrant children remain underrepresented in the highest-level Gymnasiums. In short, the German educational system fails to assist pupils in overcoming disadvantage and marginalization as a result of their background, including as ethnic or religious minorities.

Several elementary and secondary schools in Berlin isolate migrant children from native-born German students in separate classes, ostensibly because their German language abilities are insufficient for regular classes. In fact, despite the fact that they speak German as a second language, their language skills are generally sufficient for regular classes, but they function as a proxy for discrimination based on ethnicity or other questionable characteristics. The education provided in these segregated classrooms is far inferior to that provided in regular schools. Discriminatory practices stigmatize migrant students, impede their ability to properly integrate and contribute to the German society, and breach Germany’s duties under the ICCPR article 26, read combined with article 2, to ban discrimination.


Written by Lerato Selekisho



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