The German educational system

In this series of articles, we will be exploring one of the most respected and appreciated educational systems in the world, that of Germany. The articles will revolve around the structure of the German educational system and will give a brief history of how it led Germany to become a true global powerhouse of industry. Attracting millions of students, both nationally and from abroad, the system equips them with the skills and knowledge to become part of the German success story in scientific and technologic advancements. Finally, a separate article will outline the advantages that follow when joining any educational institution in Germany.

It's not really a surprise to see Germany at the forefront of technologic advances. In just the last 30 years, Germany has been ranked in the top 20 countries in innovation, research and development. It all stems from its well revered educational system, currently ranked 12th in the world by global education and publishing firm, Pearson. Germans realize that education is a key ingredient in the success of a nation and its core strength is its complexity and ingenuity.

The German educational system focuses on achieving each student's maximum potential by identifying the most suitable course of education for them as they pass through adolescence. The differences to the systems in other countries are marked. German children under the age of 6 are not required to attend school or kindergarten. However, once they reach this age, German law makes it compulsory for them to attend school. This shows how much investment and care is put into the educational system. Germans know that educated citizens will result in an educated and prosperous country.

The next stage, Grade 1 through to 4, sees all children put together in the same classroom, also known as, (Grundschule), so that teachers and parents alike have up to four years to study and measure the potential of the young generation. After this, students are separated according to their intellectual prowess and their overall potential. Students are put in one of the following schools, the Hauptschule, the Realschule and the Gymnasium and in some states of Germany, the Gesamtschule. These schools really try to push and develop a student to his maximum potential, by providing him or her with all the required materials and support.

In brief, the Hauptschule, is designed for the students who are more accustomed to taking a practical approach and delivers more hands-on experience rather than academic concepts. Students enrolled in this school stay there from grades 5-9. They cover the same educational material as the other school, but at a slower pace combined to vocation oriented courses. The Realschule, is similar to Hauptschule, but is more inclined to accommodate students who achieved a higher score in the placement tests. The name of the next school, might be misleading, however the Gymnasium is more inclined towards academic study rather than physical pursuits. In a study carried out by the Federal Statistical office of Germany, in 2009/10 there were 3094 students in this type of school in Germany, with c. 2,475,000 students (about 28 percent of all pre-collegiate students during that period), resulting in an average student number of 800 students per school. Due to its high standards, the Gymnasium is considered to be the most prestigious school a German student can attend before college. Finally, in some states, the Gesamtschule is offered to students of all levels of ability and it can grant the student either the Haupshcule certificate or the Realschulde, depending on what year the student chooses to sit his trial exam.


This structure of schooling in Germany sets it apart from the many other educational systems in the world. It is driven by the desire to be successful and educated in an ever growing and globalizing world. Students really immerse themselves into many different types of education and vocation orientated courses based on their sets of skills and talents. This optimizes the true potential of each student and instead of limiting them it fully prepares them for the working life that follows graduation. The schooling system is just one element of the success behind Germany's outstanding track record in making scientific and technologic advances.

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