In Germany, the school system varies from state to state.
Children start school the year they turn six. Full-time
education is compulsory for a minimum of nine years.
Organization of education in Germany
Education is essentially the responsibility of the
federal states (Bundesländer) with its own
education ministries. The federal state and the states seek,
through framework plans and cooperation committees, to
ensure a common goal and a uniform level. The Ministers for
Education of the Land have a solid cooperation (Kultusministerkonferenz
The schools are mainly state or municipal. There are also
private schools that are under state supervision. The right
to establish private schools is governed by the
Constitution. If these are alternatives to the public school
offer, they receive state aid. The number of private schools
has increased significantly since the beginning of the
1990s. In 2009, five percent of all the country's
15-year-olds attended such schools.
Children start school the year they turn six. How
education is organized varies between the different states.
The primary school (Grundschule) is common to all
and lasts for four years (except in Berlin and Brandenburg
where it lasts for six years). During the first two years,
the students are mainly taught by a class teacher. From the
third grade, students are increasingly being taught by
After completing primary school, students must choose
from three parallel, general education classes, either a
five-year secondary school (Hauptschule, with about
23 percent of students), a six-year real school (Realschule,
with about 26 percent of students), or a nine-year high
school (Gymnasium, with about 30 percent of
students). In most states, there is also an alternative in
the form of a common compulsory unit school (Gesamtschule,
with about nine percent of pupils) from the fifth to the
tenth school year, which includes all three school classes.
The pupils from the secondary school usually go into
vocational training (apprenticeship scheme). The real school
also prepares students for practical professions, while the
upper secondary school provides general study skills after
The high school consists of two steps; a lower
six-year-old (even the 10th school year) and a higher
three-year-old (Oberstufe). Parallel to the upper
level of the high school, there are a number of different
vocational and vocational schools that lead to different
levels of vocational and college skills.
There are 415 state-approved higher education
institutions; 106 universities, 51 art colleges, 29
administrative colleges, 16 theological colleges, 6 teacher
colleges and 207 vocational colleges. In the 2011/2012
school year, there were approximately 2.4 million students
in Germany. 47 percent of the students were women.
The oldest and most prestigious universities in the
country include Heidelberg (founded 1386), Cologne (1388),
Leipzig (1409), Rostock (1419), Freiburg (1457), Munich
(1472), Mainz (1477), Tübingen (1477), Halle (1502), Marburg
(1527), Jena (1558), Würzburg (1582), Humboldt University in
Berlin (1810). In the 1970s and 1980s many vocational
colleges were established (Fachhochschulen). In
some states there are also integrated Gesamthochschulen
which offer education from both universities and the
Fachhochschulen. In addition, there is the
Berufsakademien, which combines education with training
in the workplace.
The division of Germany into separate states led the
school system to develop somewhat differently in the
individual states in the 19th and 20th centuries. However,
developments in Prussia played a major role in the
development of the other states.
Two main issues dominated school policy in the 19th
century and the first half of the 20th century. It involved
the requirement that the school be freed from ecclesiastical
custody and become a state matter, and in the 1900s it was
the struggle for and against the idea of unitary schools.
In Prussia, in 1872, the state was supervised by the public
school, and in the Weimar Republic (1918–1933) there was a
growing demand in all the states for the school to become a
state school. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Germany.
Until the First World War, the compulsory schooling in
the different states was seven or eight years old, and the
school system was divided into different school types. There
were strong demands both on a common primary school for all
children and on a community school for children from
different faiths. The Weimar Constitution (1919) stipulated
that the primary school should be eight years old. The first
four years, elementary school, should be common to all. Then
the students could go to different types of high schools.
However, many higher schools had private preschools. During
the Nazi era (1933–1945), the state was given full
responsibility for the school system, and a uniform school
system was introduced for the entire kingdom. Private
schools were banned.
The division of Germany into two states in 1949 led to
the establishment of two different educational systems in
accordance with the different political systems of the two
states. In East Germany (DDR) a ten-year polytechnic unit
school was developed according to the Soviet model. In
western Germany (BRD), the school system largely reverted to
the pattern of the Weimar Republic. It was enshrined in the
Constitution that the school should be supervised by the
state, not by the church. At the reunification of the two
German states in 1990, the new states of the east in
principle introduced the school system in the west.
The 1994 election secured the CDU / CSU and FDP
government power under Helmut Kohl's leadership for the
fourth time since 1982. But he was elected by the narrowest
possible margin: only one vote overweight in the Bundestag.
FDP became the major loser of choice. Disastrous state
elections led to internal disputes in the FDP, and Foreign
Minister Klaus Kinkel resigned as party leader in the summer
of 1995. By contrast, the Greens made great progress in the
1994 election and gained 49 seats in the Bundestag.
The right-wing parties and other small parties that had
tried to challenge the political establishment, partly
successfully in some state elections, fell short in the
federal election. The right-wing Republicans received only
2% support and thus no seats in the Bundestag.
The Communist Democratic Party's PDS got 4.4% support in
the federal election, which was a doubling since the 1990
The SPD, led by Rudolf Scharping, emerged during the 1994
elections, but was unable to take over the government. At
the same time, the Kohl government was weakened, partly as a
result of broad popular skepticism about the policy of even
closer monetary policy integration in the European Union
(EU), a policy Kohl himself was a strong advocate for. At
the Bundestag election in 1998, the SPD with Chancellor
Gerhard Schröder got over 40% of the vote, and Kohl had to
step down after 16 years as head of government. Schröder
became new Chancellor of the coalition government between
the SPD and the Greens. CDU made its worst choice in the
post-war era with 35% support.
In 1999, Johannes Rau was elected new president in
Germany after Roman Herzog, thus becoming the first Social
Democratic president in Germany in 25 years. At the
inauguration of Rau as president, Bonn was dismissed as a
government capital at the same time. In September, the new
parliament building in Berlin opened. In 2004, Rau was
replaced as president by the partyless (but supported by
CDU) Horst Köhler.
Most of the Schröder government's hard-fought savings
policy was perceived as necessary, but it also affected the
insured, pensioners and the unemployed. The business
community largely agreed with the reforms, but the SPD
voters were critical. Inside the Social Democratic Party
there was also opposition, and some called Schröder's
economic course " neo-liberalist ". Schröder's political
counterpart was clearly expressed in the state elections,
where the SPD did, in part, startlingly bad. The defeat
meant that the opposition gained a majority in the National
Assembly's second chamber, the Federal Council. Although the
government's savings policy led to a marked decline in the
SPD and the popularity of the Greens, the Schröder
government chose to maintain this political course.
Economic restructuring measures, and rising unemployment,
were also key issues in the first elections of the new
centenary. Gerhard Schröder's red-green coalition government
was criticized both for the extent of the austerity plans
and for overstating ordinary people. The Social Democratic
scandals fell in order, and in 2005, the SPD took power in
only five of Germany's 16 states. Both the federal election
in 2002 and the accelerated election in 2005 gave a deadly
run between the major parties; in 2002, both gained 38.5% of
the vote, and it was the coalition partner The Progress of
the Greens and the electoral scheme that saved the Schröder
The 2005 election was accelerated from 2006 following a
contentious, but not unconstitutional, move by Schröder. He
put forward a motion of no confidence in the Bundestag where
several red-green representatives voted blankly, and the
president then dissolved Bundestag. With this, Germany had
in practice introduced the right of dissolution.
The election in 2005 was as smooth as in 2002. CDU / CSU
gained 35.2% and SPD 34.3%, ie a decline for both - and it
was the dosing of austerity measures more than political
courses that separated the electoral programs. It was the
Peace Democrats with a program to the right of the two big
ones and the new assembly on the left in the party Link /
PDS that made the most progress. The tendency to tear down
the traditional two-party system was thus reinforced, and no
known constellations had a majority in the new Bundestag.
After lengthy negotiations, a major coalition, the second in
the country's history, ended between the CDU / CSU and the
SPD and with the Conservatives' new leader Angela Merkel as
Germany's first female Chancellor - and, moreover, the first
from the former East Germany after the reunification.