One expert spoke of a “fear of advancement” which needs to be tackled, when commenting on the long-term education survey conducted by the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research – commissioned by the Vodafone Foundation.
The study spoke of university entry still being socially selective, with children whose parents were graduates being much more likely to enter tertiary education than their peers whose parents never went.
Study author Steffen Schindler said the unfairness began at the Abitur, or A-level, stage when children from well-educated families were seven times as likely to take it and pass than those from poorly educated families.
He worked with statistics from the last decade, creating what he said was the biggest data analysis of the situation in Germany.
Far more working class children were attending tertiary education now than in the 1970s and 1980s, but most of them were going to technical college or specific professional schools.
The expansion of the grammar school system had not increased opportunities for children from poorly educated families, the study suggested.
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“We need initiatives which remove the fear of advancement from these socially disadvantaged young people,” said Mark Speich, manager of the Vodafone Foundation.