Opinion: The education crisis in Germany is over

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The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report, signifies that the German education system in improving, but still needs to do better. There are also calls by DW’s Jens Thurau that German teachers should be shown more respect in the way that they are treated.

Germany is one of the richest industrial nations in the world, but just a few years ago the PISA study that was conducted by the OECD raised several questions and sent shockwaves through the teaching profession. Results around the globe revealed that there were many countries, which produced students that were better qualified than Germany and spoke more languages. There was also a worrying trend in scientific subjects and the quality of students entering the job market in this sector. The latest report that has been produced by the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) shows there is an improvement and claims that Germany has no cause to be alarmed by the state of its educational system anymore.

The dual system comes good

A lot of the praise can be accredited to the number of German students entering the job market or taking up vocational training. Germany is a world leader in this. This is because of the country’s dual education system, which is split into regular and vocational institutions of study. Gone are the days when vocational training was looked down upon as old-fashioned. It became trendy for parents to insist that their children followed an academic career and went to university. It was a tendency that was difficult to reverse, but the OECD firmly believes that it is the vocational training regime that has fuelled the German economic success and created lots of job opportunities. Gone are the times when the country was considered to be the ‘sick man of Europe,’ at the beginning of the millennium.

The new results are terrific and give rise to optimism, but German politicians should not sit back and take it easy just yet. Weaknesses in the system have been found. Germany still spends a lot of money on university education and tuition fees are very unpopular. High fees at educational grass-root levels, put high demands on parents, yet preschool is considered to be critical, and a place where cultural and social diversity is ironed out. The argument for and against preschool has long been extinguished, and nowadays 94 per cent of three-year-olds go. It is now not considered to be a ‘dumping ground’ for children, but it is more expensive than other countries, which is a concern.

The respect of the teacher

Arguments have raged in Germany about class sizes and age limits, but at the end-of-the-day, it is now a firm belief that it doesn’t matter about the structure as long as the teachers are good. The report by the OECD noted that in senior high school classes, German teachers taught on average, 714 hours, compared to the Japanese system, where teachers taught for just 513 hours. The argument here is that Japanese are left with more time for their own personal development as educators. With the debate about salary structure still an issue and a new structure being mooted the bottom line about the German educational system is that it has caught up but still has room for improvement.

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