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Opposition calls for all-day schools

The Local · 8 Dec 2010, 07:27

Published: 08 Dec 2010 07:27 GMT+01:00

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With the PISA study showing on Tuesday that Germany had made slight gains but still lagged world education leaders, the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and environmentalist Greens both demanded an overhaul to the system.

They called for a wide-ranging and mandatory all-day school system and the abolition of the current co-operation ban that largely prevents the federal government giving special financial help to the states for education.

“All-day schools, even for primary schools, should be widely introduced and become the standard,” Greens leader Cem Özdemir told the Rheinische Post.

German school days at present generally run from 7:30 am or 8 am until noon or 1 pm.

The latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the world’s largest standardised educational test, showed that German students' scores for maths and sciences were slightly above the average for OECD countries but still lagged behind the world’s top performers in Finland and South Korea, who tested one to two grade levels ahead.

Özdemir said the co-operation ban had to be scrapped so that the federal government, the states and municipalities could work closely together to improve the system.

The parliamentary leader of the SPD, Thomas Opperman, told the Rheinische Post: “With previous efforts, Germany has failed to do better than average. We need all-day schools as the standard, from primary schools through to high school graduation.”

He also called for the states to be helped by federal money in setting up a “national all-day school programme.”

“For such a programme, we need to mobilise billions.”

Even conservative politicians from the Christian Social Union – the Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) – criticised the co-operation ban. The strict ban hindered “better results in the area of education,” said education spokesman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary group, Albert Rupprecht.

“It is a stumbling block on the road to an education republic,” he told daily Tagesspiegel.

Bavarian Education Minister Ludwig Spaenle, meanwhile, called for better teacher training.

“The question of who starts a teacher training course at a German university is decided too much by chance,” he said.

Rather Germany had to lay down strict entry criteria and offer comprehensive guidance before young people took on study to be a teacher.

“Secondly, we’ve undervalued the importance of internships in schools during study,” he said.

Story continues below…

It was also important that universities compete openly for the best teacher training students.

Lower Saxony Education Minister Bernd Althusmann said: “We have strengthen above all our efforts in early childhood education, language teaching and the development of reading competence,” Althusmann told daily Hamburger Abendblatt.

“We have to develop learning strategies with whose help we can strengthen interest in reading, especially among boys.”

DAPD/The Local/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:21 December 8, 2010 by sonriete
There are also benefits to the current system that these politicians seem to not be interested in recognizing.

The part day system in Germany is somewhat unique in the rich countries.

The politicians statements seem to presume that learning ends when students leave the formal schoolhouse and that the only knowledge that has value is that which can be measured on the PISA tests.

The outstanding sucess of the German economy is perhaps to some degree a result of the educational system here. Who is to say it isnt?
09:24 December 8, 2010 by chicagolive
Germany success has to do with their export power, the machine works of Germany are highly prized but in alot of these systems are now being automated to the minimal amount of human help is needed, when you take away these factors Germany is lagging behind other countries. The massive difference between the top end and the low end is getting larger each year with no signs of stopping. The main problem for to me is that creativity and thinking outside the very thin German box towards learning is very lacking within the system.
10:06 December 8, 2010 by Aschaffenburgboy
It is about time! Kids should be in school from 08:00 to 15:00. Not just taking classes, but doing extra curricular activities that are so much lacking in the education system. School shave no sports to offer students, no chess club, no business club, workshop or wood shop, just nothing.

In the states, I had learned so many tasks in high school, that were all extra curricular activities. In car shop I learned how to change the oil in my car, change the alternator or generator, timing belt, tires, lights, and other small things in the car. I learned how to play chess in the chess club, and was able to participate in statewide competitions, country wide if the team won the state championship. I learned how to play hockey, I was in the Baseball team, and learn how to play American football by trying out for the team for 2 seasons. I got my first job through the Business Club at a bank, which I kept even after going to college. In the Technology club, I learned how to change parts in the computer, and learned a few things about windows.

And I also remember the opportunity of being able to visit a country that spoke the foreign language I was taking. I remember all the community service activities that were initiated at the school, and the good sense of volunteering.

Schools just don't have much to offer anymore.
10:26 December 8, 2010 by Dayzee
Well said Aschaffenburgboy!!

I too had similar experiences and consider it a benifit to be able to have the chance of doing these things at school where educated people are there to guide these interests and help get the children motivated in doing more than just watching television, playing on the internet or being bored and starting trouble.

Perhaps if the children had more of these chances it would also relieve the parents of the burden of worrying who is to watch their child when they come home from an early day of school. Were the children to be in school longer, both parents could work more to improve the family's financial situation and at the same time the children's educational and extra-curricular interests could be supported.
10:29 December 8, 2010 by dbert4
A longer school day perhaps makes some sense. But trying to turn German schools into American ones, not so much. There is a huge system of "vereins" in German society where one is usually a life long member. Replacing that system with a school-based one undermines an aspect of Germany society which makes it special.
12:52 December 8, 2010 by CaSimone
By an impressive and painstakingly put together pole run at newsweek


GERMANY is the number one Country in the world for "Quality of Life"

Why mess with that?

FORCING such stress, such competition in Education, by forcing children to compete in areas they are NOT naturally equip, creates a turmoil in them and creates goals which they will never live up to. They will land in the same job, same life, yet feel dissatisfied and in lifelong despair for not "Doing Better".

Some of the most intelligent people on this planet have a bit of social dysfunctional aspects to their personalities. (Where one has in excess one will often fall short in another area) Those pushing longer days and this nonsense race, have a compelling way of convince "normal" folk that oh this testing is soooo important. However, forcing children whom are naturally adapt in one area to feel pressured to succeed in a area which is lacking in their natural aptitude is INSANE.

Total contradiction of common senses. There may be a couple more wealthy countries then Germany, but not money, and no one country out there has more contented people. So lets stir it all up and make a sad lot of kids feel worthless, just Brilliant... right? Not.

Before people take advice from people on how to steer a whole country, I say look at them individually, look at their contentedness, or are they a ball of disgruntled, bitter trying to prove their identities on the back of a generation. Cause those that they are blind to the social demographics that create a happy civilization, should not be taken seriously.

There is much more to Life and a contented community then the emotional disregarding results of PISA scores.

I could go on and on about this to stress my point.

One thing I was thrilled about moving to Germany about was the more realistic approach to children and their shorter days in the schools. I was sick of the BS in the US with schools and the insanity and the masses of unhappy people trying to get jobs they only squeeze, end up totally stressed and unhappy, for they were not really meant to be in those type of fields anyway.
13:50 December 8, 2010 by minga
The current system is prefect for a family with stay at home wife/husband. What if both parents are working? The scenario is horrible if you lose out on that hort place. Germany wants more people to work and pay taxes to support the social system and all day schools would be a welcome change.
15:46 December 8, 2010 by tallady
My children attend the JFK school in Berlin,,They incorporate both the German and American systems.There is good and bad in both. The school scored the highest last year for the Abiturers in Berlin.

The Germans have the Hort,which America does not ,your children can go there if both parents work and the price is based on your income.The Hort is an organized program over seen by professional people and has educational value. Most children enjoy and want to attend.The children are taken there directly after school.School at the JFK school ends at 1300 and starts at 0800. Starting in the 1st class the students have home work almost daily.

I work there as a volunteer teacher,,students newly arrived from the USA or Canada are no better prepared then the JFK kids. I really do not see any value in increasing the length of the day.
17:24 December 8, 2010 by Gretl
I understand the short days are so that kids can particpate in clubs. However, that is based on the concept of the stay-at-home mother, which has become a luxury of the rich.

There is a lack of German couples having children because they cannot afford to lose the mother's income. Germany needs to look at longer school days and daycare to allow women the flexibility to work. Kindergeld is not the solution.
20:14 December 8, 2010 by Jerr-Berlin
Kudos to Aschaffenburgboy...some very good points!
06:41 December 15, 2010 by Nemo2010
Must be all the turks and muslims bringing the standards down.
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