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Education & knowledge

Attractive School System

In Germany it is compulsory for all children to attend school. The Federal states are responsible for the school system.
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The 16 federal states Federal states Germany is a federal state. Both the central federal government and the 16 federal states have independent areas of jurisdiction. The government in Berlin is responsible for foreign policy, European policy, defense, justice, employment, social affairs, tax and health. The federal states are… Read more › are primarily responsible for the school system. This is why there are different school systems, curricula and types of schools across Ger­many.  The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK) guarantees the conformity or comparability of the education programmes and the qualifications awarded. 

In the 2021-2022 academic year 11 million pupils attended the 40,000 general education and vocational schools, with 798,000 teachers. Furthermore, just under a million pupils attend the roughly 5,800 general and vocational private schools. 

In general, school attendance is compulsory for all children from the age of six for a nine-year period. At the same time early-years education and how it connects with primary schooling is a high-priority issue in education policy. Around 20,000 whole-day schools now have a firm place in the education system. It is expected that studying at these schools will improve equality of opportunity, particularly for children from edu­cationally deprived backgrounds.

Free schooling

It costs nothing to attend a state school in Germany. The school system is divided into three levels: primary education and secondary education levels I and II. As a rule, all children attend a primary school, which lasts from Year 1 to 4 (Years 1 to 6 in Berlin Berlin Once a year, during the Berlinale film festival, the world of the silver screen focuses its attention on Berlin. And the city’s inhabitants are used to global interest. After all, the people of Berlin have lived in a capital city since 1458. However, there is also a shady side to the city’s history… Read more › and Brandenburg Brandenburg Brandenburg surrounds the capital city of Berlin and benefits from the latter’s “gin and martini belt”. However, with its numerous lakes and forests it also has several trump cards of its own. With the Hohenzollern castles, and in particular Sanssouci Castle, which is included in the UNESCO World… Read more › ). After primary school, students pursue one of three standard forms of secondary education: a non-selective “Hauptschule”, which teaches up to level 2 qualifications (Years 5 to 9 or 10); a “Realschule” (Years 5 to 10) where students attain the “Mittlere Reife” (a level 2 qualification); or a selective grammar school (Years 5 to 12 or 13) to attain a general higher education entrance diploma or Abitur. Some schools provide a single form of secondary education, while others combine two or three (as in the case of comprehensive “Gesamtschulen”), making it easier to switch between different forms.

The names of these types of school vary depending on the state; only grammar schools (“Gymnasium”) are known as such in all states. In 2021 around 395,000 school students achieved higher education entrance diplomas. Children with special educational needs can attend separate schools that are able to cater for their specific needs. Nevertheless, the aim is for it to become standard for children with and without disabilities to learn together, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The Federal Government Federal Government The Federal Government and cabinet is made up of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. While the Chancellor holds the power to issue directives, the ministers have departmental powers, meaning that they independently run their respective ministries in the framework of those directives… Read more › is paying particular attention to providing better educational opportunities to children and young people, regardless of their parents’ social situation. 

German schools abroad

The 137 German schools abroad provide an excellent education in 70 countries. Around 84,000 students learn together at these schools, around 23,000 of which speak German as their first language. Most of the schools are privately funded, but they receive financial and staffing support from the Central Agency for German Schools Abroad (ZfA). Since 2008, the PASCH initiative (“Schools: Partners for the Future”), which is coordinated by the Federal Foreign Office, has been working with the ZfA and the Goethe-Institut to create an even larger network of German students. It connects almost 2,000 schools around the world, with over 600,000 students learning German.