• Germany's news in English

One in five German teens can't read well enough

The Local · 22 Jun 2012, 15:13

Published: 22 Jun 2012 15:13 GMT+02:00

As many as 20 percent of school-leavers cannot read properly or understand texts, and generally fail to find further training placements according to the report, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said on Friday.

The “Education in Germany 2012” report, published every two years, said that improvements in early education had failed to help a stubborn core of up to 20 percent of pupils who leave school without sufficient literacy skills.

The authors warned that a lack of qualified early childcare staff could be partially to blame, and added that children learning German as a second language needed special support.

The report also cited some improvements in German education performance, including at the other end of the spectrum, a rise in the number of teenagers completing their Abitur exams – the German school-leaving certificate.

Speaking at the presentation of the report to the conference of Culture Ministers in Berlin on Friday, head of the research team Horst Weishaupt said the report showed many positive developments but also higlighted big challenges.

The authors welcomed the fact that most children aged three and over now go to some kind of kindergarten - but warned that local authorities must "massively increase" their efforts to raise the number of kindergarten places.

Story continues below…

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:40 June 22, 2012 by Flint
Unfortunately, the U. S. wishes four of five students left high school being able to read.
17:38 June 22, 2012 by Redfeather
U.S. has had this problem for years and no matter how much money given to new programs like Head-Start, etc. there is no improvement shown in those said same that took or did not take it. Tested on 140 variables. Communist Russia did research that provides the lacking is with those that we allow to immigrate. Therefore, the politically correctness of saying all are equal is untrue. Some are smarter than others. Showing no preference in immigration appears to them, the reason that the US is quickly declining, being turned into a service industry that is lacking the ability for research and advancement. To allow more children to pass, the bar is lowered for all.
18:31 June 22, 2012 by lucksi
Makes me wonder what texts they tested this on.

I'm someone with still measureable intelligence and I have problems everytime I get something from the state. I can read it no problem, but my brain shuts off and I have no clue what I just read and have to read it again and again.
18:59 June 22, 2012 by Whipmanager
So, leavers of School? I guess the writer of this story didnt do good either in school. We say graduates, or if you are talking about people who dont complete school, how about drop outs. The US is proof that you can spend 50% of the california budget on education (billions of dollars) and still ahve a huge drop out/ignorance rate. It isnt money. It is the habits of leaving behind some traditions,and asking the kids what they want. They shouldnt have many rights until they are adults. They should be told what they want until they know well enough to amke educated decisions on what is best. They are kids, yet they are given the full rights of adults.
19:32 June 22, 2012 by Englishted
A very misleading headline that would have been better as:

One in Five pupils leaving school in Germany lack basic literacy skills .

Because as the article points out many have German not as their mother tongue.

Time to worry as this 20% will slowly but surely pull down the rest.
19:33 June 22, 2012 by Lisa Rusbridge
All the more reason to make it easier and more inviting for immigrants who are skilled, holding degrees and certifications from foreign countries to come, work and live in Germany.

Also, how do they expect these illiterate, unskilled young people to pull in enough income to support the pension system? It sounds like they won't even be able to support themselves.
20:00 June 22, 2012 by avatar009
Overall, im against those short tables and bad chairs normaly in schools uses.

either they stand up or use chairs and tables tilted up, because the body bending and looking down closes the body follow, and blood system and also makes the brain not to function proberly, because of less blood and less energy it receives. The point is the problem isnt the student is the lack of knowledge of the whole scoiety and the Education board, also the teachers not to scope the situation. I use to on those desks and chairs with poor standard teachers and well paid. Germany isnt advanced i was thinking some how smilar to third wall counries.
20:31 June 22, 2012 by bjerkebek
I tutor a 10 year old. their math is bizarre. the teaching pool is lame at best. a bare explanation of the concept then dump a pile of homework on them. sink or swim.

BTW what's the percentage of auslanders?
21:30 June 22, 2012 by catjones
I just want to find scapegoats and someone (besides me) to blame for something and the local serves that up. I like to focus on life's imperfections and inequalities. My glass is never half full. I'm looking to hate somebody.....you'll do.
21:54 June 22, 2012 by wood artist
In the US that would be considered a HUGE improvement. If you read the garbage on job applications you'd wonder how those kids got out of school in the first place.

@Whipmanager The term "school leaving" is a traditional term in German, and it does not indicate "graduation." You can legally "complete" your schooling and not receive a "diploma" in the classic western sense. Not everyone "graduates" with an Abschlusszeugnis.

And...since we're being a bit picky, the word "didn't" is spelled with an apostrophe. I'm also pretty certain that both the UK and US versions of English the letters "amke" don't MAKE a word. For the most part The Local does a pretty good job with translations, but now and then the original German just doesn't really match BBC received English. This is one of those cases.

@catjones Fortunately you'll never run out of scapegoats. /sarcasm

03:51 June 23, 2012 by soros
Low literacy rates are a sign of the times, at least in the West. Technology and youth culture play their part in this: more young people respond to pictures (E.g. videos) while text-based culture is less attractive.

Then there is the lack of need: many do not need to do well scholastically in order to feel secure. Those who work the hardest in US schools, for instance, come from the Far East -- the Chinese and Koreans, for instance. Their parents are determined their kids do well and push them to excel while the rest of the youngsters party, party, party.

Then too, there is the intellectual dumbing-down of everyone, including teachers. Everywhere we seem to be turning our back on intellectual culture. Many are more into hocus pocus New Age ideas or religions than with rational discourse. I find this everywhere in the West, including in former British colonies still under Western influence. Few people seem interested in Science or contemporary literature, or just reading the newspapers.

I have no clue as to what to do about this. Blame the Zeitgeist.
09:36 June 23, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Good points and comments above.

I see that many of you sense that something is terribly wrong with the education system in the US and the West, but can`t quite put your finger on it then please check out:


You can find him on Youtube or at Gnostic Media.com and Tragedy and Hope.com.

Enter in `Another Brick in the Wall` with his name, or `The Ultimate History Lesson with John Taylor Gatto`.

If you want to hear the incarnate spirit of what made America great then give John a listen. He was given the NYC Teacher of the Year award and used the opportunity to resign, citing his reasons in the NY Times and stating that he didn`t want to continue to hurt children as an agent of the system.

Gatto is a genius who is sharing something precious with us. With his gentle voice and grandfatherly way he explains the history of the American education system up to its current state. History, philosophy, inspiring and heart-breaking stories- I can listen to him all day. He has taught me so much. He has written many fascinating books on this topic as well. If you are interested in education, or in America, then check him out.

Gatto was trained in `the Trivium`, which is like `the Force` for the intellect. If you don`t know what this is then check it out at the above mentioned websites.

The trivium is the cure of the current state of Idiocracy in the West. At the very least, it will enrich your life.

It was removed from the Public School systems in the West around 100 years ago.

But the private schools for the elite still teach it. ;)

Pick up a copy of `The Trivium` by Sister Miriam Joseph and become a Jesuit Black Belt. :)

Have a good one.
11:53 June 23, 2012 by 9900lawre
PMSL, wiv evry1 usin TXT shortcuts 2 save on letters wiv SMS, evry cuntry has this problem. LOL

As for Germany it's the many long, made up, combination words that are used too frequently instead of using two or three words with an AND in the middle.

Combine this with Text and SMS culture then of course your going to have a reading problem.
12:09 June 23, 2012 by Leo Strauss

Good point. Technology is a big part of this. SMS, Twitter, Emails (when was the last time you wrote a personal letter?) and even TV are contributing to the general dumbing down effect so that we can no longer articulate our thoughts effectively.

Yet we willingly embrace it all- No need for Thought Police and the Ministry of Truth here. It`s fun!

2x + ungd :)
23:55 June 24, 2012 by catjones
Leo Strauss...Gatto is the typical 'I have the answers' guy. Too bad he was ' part of the problem' guy for his entire 30 year career. Epiphanies work best in retrospect.
14:49 June 25, 2012 by Leo Strauss

Gatto did what he could within a completely dysfunctional system. One could argue that any teacher who consents to work as an agent within such a system is a `part of the problem`, and indeed there are many such people in our western classrooms. In Gatto`s case I would have to disagree. I would urge you to read his books or listen to some of his online videos in order to learn about what he did during his career `to sabotage the system` as he put it.

Since then he has continued to be a thorn in the side of the establishment as well as an inspiration to thinking teachers and parents. He is, like Charlotte Iserbyt (`The Dumbing Down of America`), one of the most important whistle- blowers regarding the American education system and worthy of our respect.

So cat c`mon, give Gatto a second look and check out Charlotte, if you have the time.

The Cat and Il Gatto-- you may have more in common with him than you think. :)
13:39 July 3, 2012 by EinWolf
It woode gretly help US students if English wer more fonetic. More like it was in years gone by.
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