• Germany's news in English
 
Opinion
'Burkini ruling shows weakness of schools'
Photo: DPA

'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
Löw sets sights on Euro 2016 with new-look Germany
Joachim Löw holding the World Cup trophy. File photo: DPA

Löw sets sights on Euro 2016 with new-look Germany

World Cup winners Germany have suffered something of a hangover since their triumph in Brazil, but coach Joachim Löw is hoping a new-look side can go on to claim more glory at Euro 2016. READ  

T-Mobile to pay $90 mn to settle US fraud charges
Photo: DPA

T-Mobile to pay $90 mn to settle US fraud charges

German mobile phone company T-Mobile has agreed to pay at least $90 million to settle US government claims that it bilked customers with bogus charges, US regulators said Friday. READ  

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law
Photo: DPA

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law

The German Ethics Council said the law should not be changed to permit assisted suicide in a paper published on Friday. READ  

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin
Swan Lake. An abandoned ride in the Spreewald pleasure park. Photo: DPA

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin

The iconic ruined themepark in the centre of Berlin - a long-time favourite of hipster adventurers - needs a clean-up costing at least 14 million euros, the Berlin government has revealed. READ  

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer
File photo of Nuremberg main station: Shutterstock

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer

Officers in Nuremberg arrested a man on Thursday evening after he called in a false bomb threat against the main train station READ  

Opinion
Angela, David...and Nigel
So near...and yet so far Photo: DPA

Angela, David...and Nigel

The rise of UKIP broke up what had been a good 2014 for Cameron and Merkel. READ  

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead
Dr Gunther von Hagens. Photo: DPA

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead

A Berlin court has said that infamous human taxidermist Gunther von Hagens can open a museum in the capital - over objections from local officials. READ  

Presented by Phorms Education
Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech
Photo: Phorms Education

Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech

As parents fret over children’s internet habits, a network of bilingual schools in Germany shows that putting computers in the classroom from an early age yields positive results. READ  

Networks scramble to patch mobile security
Chancellor Angela Merkel has herself been the victim of phone hacking. Photo: DPA

Networks scramble to patch mobile security

IT experts led by Berlin-based Karsten Nohl said on Thursday they had discovered security flaws in the mobile phone networks that would allow attackers to read users' messages. READ  

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport
Photo: DPA

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport

Three men suspected of being Turkish agents have been arrested by police, federal prosecutors said on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,228
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd