Private schools could rescue German education system

Photo: DPAGermany is agonising over its education system again. It gets a mediocre rating in the international PISA studies, and it sorts children too soon into academic and vocational “tracks” on the basis of performance that is largely determined by family background. Chancellor Angela has called a summit of education ministers from Germany’s 16 states, since they are the ones who control education. But economist and education researcher Ludger Woessmann, of the Ifo institute in Munich, fears that education will stay in its “rut” unless the federal government can call the states to account.

One solution, says Woessmann, is to give schools more autonomy in choosing their staff (they have none at present) and to have a more competitive system that gives parents choice. He would like to see private schools (there are very few in Germany) put on the same funding level as public schools -- that is, state funded but privately run, as in the Netherlands and Sweden. In the Netherlands, three-quarters of students go to schools that are not operated by the state, but mostly by churches and other charities, says Woessmann, and these schools benefit low income children the most.

Among other suggestions the economist thinks Germany should provide more pre-school education, rather than just child care, and introduce student loans at university level, which are mainly attended by the children of rich families. ~ Deutsche Welle, Oct 22


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