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German Education System: Everything you need to know

German Education System: Everything you need to know 

About German Education System

This article will give you an overview of the German Education System. For good reason, German education is world-renowned. It is well-organized, easily accessible to all students, allowing them to continue their studies up to the university level regardless of their family’s financial situation. All German states have the same school and educational systems. Tuition payments are often not required in German public institutions, whether they be elementary, secondary, or vocational schools.

German Education System
German Education System

The German educational system is governed by the laws and regulations of the “Grundgesetz.” The Federal Ministries of Education, Cultural Affairs, and Science are the primary authorities for developing educational, scientific, and artistic policy guidelines, as well as enacting relevant laws and administrative rules. In monitoring the overall activities of educational institutions, organizations, and foundations, the ministry works closely with the Federation and Länders (German states) authorities.

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In Germany, responsibility for education matters is shared by the Länder and the Federation (which has a minor role). However, there are areas of collaboration in education where such a distinction between the two halves does not exist, termed as “joint assignments” or “Gemeinschaftsaufgaben.”

How is the German Education System Organized?

The German education system is organized into five levels:

  • Early Childhood Education.
  • Primary education.
  • Secondary education.
  • Tertiary education.
  • Continuing Education.

Germany’s Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education is the optional education and care provided to children aged 0 to 6 in the Federal Territory of Germany. The supervision of German pre-school education is primarily the duty of the local Lander’s State Youth Welfare Office “Landesjugendämter.” They are responsible for granting licenses to preschool education and care facilities.

Providers must complete the requirements in order to obtain such a preschool education operation license. This involves having the appropriate child/staff ratio, adequately qualified educators, adequate space, appropriate equipment and hygiene, and an age-appropriate education curriculum. The strengthening of children’s cooperation abilities, as well as their level of integration in everyday life activities, are core principles that preschool education attempts to cultivate in them.

The following are the key areas of German preschool education for children over the age of two: 

  • Language, writing, communication,
  • Personal and social development,
  • Value development and religious education,
  • Mathematics, natural sciences, (information) technology,
  • Fine arts/working with various media. 

Children who attend German preschool facilities are not evaluated in terms of their educational attainment. Instead, their educators or trainers regularly monitor their progress through learning activities.

Germanys Primary Education

Youth offices also oversee the operation and investment funds that Lander or “Kommunen” distributes for activities and growth of German preschool education institutions. What Is Primary Education in Germany? In Germany, there are two primary school education systems.

  • A 5-day school week pre-education system has 188 teaching days per year.
  • In a 6-day school week preschool system, there are 208 days of teaching every year, which includes teachings on two Saturdays per month.
  • Primary school students are required to attend 20 to 29 classes each week, and 20-to 22 courses per year.
  • Primary school lessons are typically 45 minutes long. Up to six courses can be presented in a single day.

The basic goal of German primary education is to build essential understanding, skills, abilities, and important competencies in students. German language, mathematics, general studies, foreign language, art, handicrafts/textile design, music, sports, and religion/ethics are among the subjects taught at German elementary schools. Intercultural, mint, media, health, musical-aesthetic, sustainable development, and values education are also taught.

By finishing grade 1 classes, pupils are immediately transferred to grade 2, regardless of the level of knowledge obtained during such studies. Beginning in grade 2, these students are assigned a grade based on the degree of knowledge gained during their studies. The pupil’s school report “Zeugnis” is issued, and it determines whether the child will move to the next grade or has to retake the same grade. Instead, when students graduate from a German elementary school, they must have met “the Grundschule objective outcomes.” 

Germanys Secondary Education

After primary school, German secondary education is divided into two levels: lower secondary “Sekundarstufe I” and upper secondary “Sekundarstufe II.”

  • Lower secondary education is provided to students aged 10 to 15/16 in classes 5/7 through 9/10. Lessons at this level are of a general type and serve as preparation for the upper level of secondary school.
  • Upper secondary education is the education that students aged 15/16 – 18/who have finished the lower level of secondary school undergo in order to obtain a university admission qualification or a vocational certification.

Lower secondary education in Germany has as its basic purpose foundational education, individual specialization, and identification of specific abilities among children. In Germany, general upper secondary schools seek to provide students with the necessary understanding to acquire the Abitur or another university entry qualification. They can apply for continued academic studies in any German higher education institution or a professional education and training study program with a university entry qualification.

Germanys Tertiary Education

German tertiary education in Germany provides higher education for qualified students who have finished secondary education in Germany or abroad and are eligible to begin higher education programs. Under the Basic Law, higher education institutions have the autonomy to manage scholarship awarding, research, and teaching activities on their own. These institutions must be in agreement with Lander’s ministry on administrative problems like academic and governmental matters. Higher education studies (tertiary education providers) are approved institutions in Germany that provide higher education study courses leading to a profession that meets the needs of the local and worldwide labor markets.

University equivalent institutions provide a limited number of study courses, such as scientific and engineering sciences, theology, pedagogy, and so on. Despite their distinctions, both of these universities are authorized to confer the Ph.D. title “Doktorgrad” (Promotionsrecht). The Bachelor’s degree is the first higher education qualification in Germany. In a Bachelor’s program, the normal time of study is six semesters or three academic years.  The Master’s degree is Germany’s second-highest level of education. A German master’s degree program takes two to four semesters to finish. This phase is typically four semesters in universities and similar institutions. This term is 3-4 semesters in Fachhochschulen.

To complete a Master’s degree, students must get 300 ECTS credit points, including the credits earned from previous qualifications. The Ph.D. degree is Germany’s third-highest level of education. This is a program that attracts the best students and is available at German universities and equivalent institutions in conjunction with non-university research institutes. Universities and comparable institutions also have the exclusive right to provide education and scientific research study programs for future academics.

Compulsory Education in Germany

All Germans are required to attend primary and secondary school beginning at the age of six and continuing until they complete nine-year full-time schooling at Gymnasium or ten years of full-time schooling at other general education schools.

At the upper secondary level, if students do not attend full-time classes at general or vocational education schools, they must take part-time left-aside lessons. This is true even if they have previously completed their required education. This duty is called “Berufsschule Berufsschulpflicht” and lasts three years.

What Do Adult Education and Lifelong Learning Mean in Germany?

Continuing education in Germany refers to education geared at meeting the ever-changing demands of the labor market.

Municipal and private institutions, churches, trade unions, chambers of industry and commerce, associations, political parties, businesses, public authorities, academies, family education centers, vocational schools, Fachschulen, radio, television, and other institutions provide this type of education.

For more information:

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How to Study in Germany for Free-Everything You Need to Know


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