• Germany's news in English
 

'Burkini ruling shows weakness of schools'

Published: 17 Sep 2013 12:40 GMT+02:00

Religious freedom or mandatory schooling?

The administrative court in Leipzig has made two important rulings in the last week. Judges rejected the appeal of a Jehovah Witness family who wanted to excuse their son from a film screening at school and rejected the case of a 13-year-old Muslim girl who did not want to take part in co-ed swimming lessons.

Both judgments were widely welcomed. The argument goes that by forcing attendance of lessons for everyone at school, pupils’ social skills are strengthened. School is not just a means of education it also forces integration within society.

The $1billion High School dropout

But a story like David Karp’s would not be possible in Germany.

He was not a good pupil. After lessons he spent the evenings at home in front of his computer.

At 14 his mother decided to wipe the slate clean. She took David out of school and taught him at home. “His passion was computers. I had to give him room to do that,” she said.

Instead of learning Maths and English the boy became a computer programming genius.

At the age of 20 he founded the blogging platform Tumblr. Six years on, in May this year, he sold it to Yahoo for $1.1billion. Not bad for someone with no High School diploma.

But in Germany homeschooling is frowned upon. Historically there are good reasons for that. Only the bourgeoisie and aristocracy were able to afford teachers to visit their children at home. Everyone else had to look on. That changed with the introduction of universal education.

But compulsory education does not have to mean the banning of homeschooling which was forbidden by the Nazis in Germany in 1938. They wanted to have all children in the state’s grip.

Exceptions frowned upon

In four of Germany’s neighbouring countries – Denmark, Belgium Switzerland and Austria there is compulsory education but no law forcing children to attend school.

In Ireland, Italy, Australia, Britain and the USA parents can, if they wish, teach their children at home. Religious motives are not always pivotal in deciding to home school.

In thinly populated areas it is a way of avoiding a long journey and saving travel costs. Online teaching is also becoming better. Children are still regularly tested in school exams but do not have to acquire their knowledge there.

The Costa Rican lawyer, teacher and philosopher Vernor Munoz was UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education from 2004 to 2010. In 2006 he travelled to Germany.

In his subsequent report he criticized, among other things, the German education system for its restrictive mandatory schooling which criminalized alternative forms of education such as homeschooling.

Nothing has changed since. A homogeneous society remains the ideal. Putting up with exceptions and accepting peculiarities remains as hard as ever.

READ MORE: Muslim schoolgirl loses swimming class appeal

http://www.thelocal.de/national/20130911-51873.html

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
School hotpants ban sparks online debate
Photo: DPA

School hotpants ban sparks online debate

A school's decision to ban hot pants for girls during the July heatwave has sparked anger online, with feminist activists decrying the decision as sexist. READ  

Greece crisis
Merkel to meet Tsipras at Tuesday summit
Over 60 percent of Greeks voted 'No' in the referendum. Photo: DPA

Merkel to meet Tsipras at Tuesday summit

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at a eurozone summit on Tuesday to discuss new Greek reform proposals, Greek government sources said. READ  

Students fight for life after chimney plunge
The Düsseldorf Kunstakademie (Academy of Arts). Photo: DPA

Students fight for life after chimney plunge

Two students had to be rescued by fire services after falling 30 metres down a chimney at the the Dusseldorf Academy of Arts on Sunday night. READ  

Lion cub raised in living room leaves home
Zookeeper Isabelle Wallpott with Malor. Photo: DPA

Lion cub raised in living room leaves home

Malor has lived at home with a zookeeper in the Eifel mountains for the last five months. Now the little lion cub is about to be reintroduced to his mother. READ  

July heatwave
Bavarian town roasts in record temperatures
A farmer waters strawberries near Kitzingen in Lower Franconia. Photo: DPA

Bavarian town roasts in record temperatures

The small town of Kitzingen in Bavaria registered a new record temperature for Germany, as the mercury reached 40.3 C on Sunday. READ  

Having kids later makes for a happy family
Children make us happy, but only up to a point. Photo: DPA

Having kids later makes for a happy family

Children are a blessing? Only for parents over a certain age, and then only up to a certain number, a study published by a German research institute shows. READ  

Greece crisis
How will Germany react to the Greek vote?
Angela Merkel has some more sleepless nights ahead of her. Photo: DPA

How will Germany react to the Greek vote?

Now that Greeks have voted against accepting tough austerity conditions in return for a fresh tranche of bailout cash, The Local asked Professor Michael Wohlgemuth of Open Europe Berlin how Chancellor Angela Merkel, other political leaders and the German public may respond. READ  

Post strike ends Monday as agreement reached
Photo: DPA

Post strike ends Monday as agreement reached

Public sector union Verdi has reached a final agreement with Deutsche Post after a strike that lasted four weeks, meaning postal service should return to normal starting on Tuesday. READ  

Women's World Cup
Löw defends Neid as critics circle after defeat
Silvia Neid congratulates England after Germany's 1-0 defeat. Photo: DPA

Löw defends Neid as critics circle after defeat

World Cup winning coach Joachim Löw defended his female counterpart Silvia Neid on Monday after Germany fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat to England in the third place play-off of the Women's World Cup. READ  

Hamburg districts make UNESCO heritage list
An eightfold composite picture of different views of the Chilehaus (Chile House) and the Sprinkenhof in Hamburg. Photo: EPA/Christian Charisius/dpa/picture alliance

Hamburg districts make UNESCO heritage list

The UN cultural agency on Sunday designated Hamburg's historic maritime warehouse and business districts, boasting early 20th century German brick architecture, as World Heritage sites. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,887
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd