• Germany edition
 
Opinion
'Burkini ruling shows weakness of schools'
Photo: DPA

'Burkini ruling shows weakness of schools'

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

Germany's culture of compulsory participation at school was highlighted in a court's burkini ruling last week, but there are good reasons for making exceptions as Malte Lehming from newspaper Tagesspiegel argues.

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel
Photo: Nieto Sobejano Architects, Berlin

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel

Munich's old city centre is to receive an ultra modern addition to its skyline. The new hotel has already been dubbed 'the Tetris cube' by the media. READ () »

The Local List
German beer culture in 11 gulps
Photo: DPA

German beer culture in 11 gulps

Wednesday marks the 498th anniversary of Germany's celebrated beer purity law, so in honour of nearly half a millennium of hoppy history, this week's Local List tells some beer truths you may not know. READ () »

Feminist's apartment advert goes viral
Photo: Screenshot/Facebook

Feminist's apartment advert goes viral

Finding accommodation in Berlin is notoriously tricky. But one woman on the hunt might have a particularly hard time of it, with an advert for an apartment so absurd it has gone viral. READ () »

Russian spies step up activity in Germany
The Russian embassy building in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Russian spies step up activity in Germany

Russian spies are increasingly targeting potential informants in German politics and business by taking them out to dinner, according to counterintelligence services. READ () »

Jobless benefits to get leaner and meaner
Photo: DPA

Jobless benefits to get leaner and meaner

The German government is planning a shake-up of the country’s unemployment benefit system, Hartz IV, by introducing stricter rules on claimants in a move which supporters say will cut bureaucracy. READ () »

Germany's oldest woman dies aged 112
Gertrud Henze. Photo: DPA

Germany's oldest woman dies aged 112

Germany’s oldest woman died at the age of 112 on Tuesday. Gertrud Henze was born on December 8th 1901 and joked her long life was down to never getting married. READ () »

Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent
Police search the area near where Gabriele's body was found in October 2013. Photo: DPA

Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent

The alleged murderer of an exchange student in southern Germany stayed silent in the dock on Tuesday on the first day of his trial. READ () »

European Elections 2014
'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Hans-Olaf Henkel (r) celebrates the one-year anniversary of the AfD with leader Bernd Lücke. Photo: DPA

'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'

In an interview with The Local, one of the leaders of Germany's eurosceptic party talks about Europe's future, why Britain is a model country and why he will not work with UKIP's Nigel Farage. READ () »

Girls find live munition in Easter bonfire
Nane, with her father and a picture of the cartridge-laden wood. Photo: DPA

Girls find live munition in Easter bonfire

Two 12-year-old German girls found live ammunition lodged into a branch in an Easter bonfire. It was due to be lit the next day, potentially igniting the cartridges and causing disaster. READ () »

Opinion
'Fracking won't save Germany from Putin'
Photo: DPA

'Fracking won't save Germany from Putin'

Germany's reliance on Russian gas continues to limit the nation's diplomatic leverage in the Ukraine crisis. But as leaders once again explore fracking as an alternative, critics told The Local the risks were too high. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
National
Let us start work later after World Cup nights, unions says
Photo: DPA
Society
Crystal meth use hits record level
Photo: DPA
Rhineland
Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
What's the unemployment rate in your area of Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Advertisement:
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

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

3,051
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd