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Germany 'fails to level educational playing field'
Photo: DPA

Germany 'fails to level educational playing field'

Published: 11 Sep 2012 07:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Sep 2012 07:13 GMT+02:00

German children from well-educated families are six times as likely to go to university as those from low education backgrounds, despite decades of trying to level the playing field.

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.

“We need initiatives which remove the fear of advancement from these socially disadvantaged young people,” said Mark Speich, manager of the Vodafone Foundation.

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Your comments about this article

09:16 September 11, 2012 by smart2012
School system has a huge weakness, ie decision if a kid can go to uni is made when kid is 13. This has been designed to keep low educated foreigners away from top positions (at 13 most of them still do not speak perfectly German as at home they speak the relatives language -which actually it is an advantage).

This is known by all, that is why all my colleagues send kids at international schools.
09:24 September 11, 2012 by murka
Problem #1: German schools are good at testing, but not good at teaching. So, only those pupils with a support from parents are going to succeed.

Problem #2: When finishing the ground school with low marks (because your parents didn't help you, see above) you received a "recommendation" to a labor oriented school. I guess this "recommendation" is still compulsory at least in Bavaria.

Sure, smart kids can switch back, but it does not work on large numbers.
10:23 September 11, 2012 by Onlythetruth
Whats the problem? Germany needs painters, plumbers, construction workers, truck drivers and all the rest. Higher education should be reserved for those that appreciate it.
14:02 September 11, 2012 by jg.
It is obviously time to follow the social engineering of the UK: allow all higher educational institutions to call themselves universities and issue degrees. Weed out any tricky content from the school curriculum such that everyone gets A grades. This way everyone gets to go to university, regardless of their background (or ability) and nobody is left behind. There is a slight downside in that you end up with a load of university graduates who cannot complete a sentence and are mostly unemployable but at least everyone is equal. Hooray for socialism!
14:12 September 11, 2012 by lucksi
Well, duh. For example, if there isn't a single book in the house and when the only printed material is the Bild "newspaper"; the chances of a kid going to higher education is very slim indeed.
17:02 September 11, 2012 by Englishted
It is not education of the parents as such ,it is wealth and it will be getting worse as the gap between the haves and the have nots increases year on year in the "developed " west.
17:36 September 11, 2012 by wolfgang60
Haves and the have nots can study in university here in Germany as long as you qualify the criteria.In other countries university is expensive not free so either you have money or bank loan then you can access university.
22:22 September 11, 2012 by Staticjumper
This study shows a firm grasp of the obvious. The cold, hard, politically incorrect truth is that parents are going to pass on both nature and nurture to their kids. Intelligent, well-educated parents are more likely to pass on both the aptitude for learning and a greater respect for hard work and education than less adept parents who place more value on immediate gratification and take a more leisurely approach to occupational pursuits. And exactly how is university "socially selective" rather than academically selective? Are admissions based on who a student's friends and family are or do they earn admission through grades and testing?
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