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Saxony 'top' and Berlin 'flop' in new Germany-wide education rankings

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Saxony 'top' and Berlin 'flop' in new Germany-wide education rankings
A student in Tübingen in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg, which came in 6th place in the study. Photo: DPA
17:23 CEST+02:00
Saxony continues to be at the forefront of education in comparison to other German states, according to the newly published "Education Monitor 2019", presented by the New Social Market Economy Initiative (INSM) in Berlin on Thursday.

For the 14th year in a row, the east German state snagged first place in the annual ranking, which examined primary and secondary education. It was followed by the southern state of Bavaria and eastern Thuringia.

Coming in at the bottom of the ranking was Berlin. The next lowest-ranking states on the list, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bremen and Brandenburg, are "only marginally better" than the German capital, according to INSM. 

READ ALSO: What to know about the different types of schools as an expat parent in Germany

"The [weakest states] set the wrong priorities, experiment around, and don't care enough about their lowest performing students,” said INSM managing director Hubertus Pellengahr on Thursday in Berlin. 

In contrast, the states with the highest educational rankings have pursued a continual strategy for years in order to achieve top results, said Pellengahr. 

Through the Education Monitor, Germany’s 16 states are compared with one another on the basis of 93 different indicators. 

How all of the states performed on a scale of 1-100, based on factors such as school quality, integration, career training, funding and research initiatives. Chart: DPA

Examining the results

The authors of the study praised Saxony for the fact that many children in kindergartens and primary schools are looked after full-time. 

In addition, they said, only a few pupils don’t reach the minimum standards in maths or reading, leading many to go on to study maths, engineering and natural sciences at Saxon universities. 

For Berlin, the Monitor found that the number of apprenticeships on offer was "too low" and the proportion of school drop-outs was too high. 

"In the capital, the proportion of early school drop-outs is alarmingly high" especially for foreign children, Pellengahr said at the presentation about the results.

As usual, the study's outcomes were cheered in the top-performing states, while explanations were sought among states with the lowest results.

"Best in class in Germany. Saxony has again received first place in the Education Monitor (...)", The Saxon state chancellery wrote on Thursday on the Twitter account of Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU).

In order to remain at the top spot, he said, further investments are being made in education, secondary schools are being strengthened, school buildings are being constructed and financial incentives for civil servants are being created.

For bottom-ranking Berlin, Education Senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD) said: "One in three children in our country grows up in poverty. This is not only socially unjust, it also puts schools in a difficult situation." 

‘Generating optimal growth’

Each year, the Education Monitor analyzes "how successful each federal state is in designing its education system in such a way that it generates optimal growth and employment impulses," INSM says. 

The Monitor examines, for example, how much money a state spends per pupil, how many teachers and pupils there are, or how high the proportion of younger teachers is. 

READ ALSO: 'The teacher shortage is the worst it has even been'

The school drop-out and apprentice dropout rates and test results in reading and maths are also compared. 

One of the biggest problems throughout Germany, according to the study, is the school drop-out rate.

This figure rose from 5.7 percent in 2016 to 6.3 percent in 2017. More recent comparative figures are not yet available.

And among foreign pupils there had even been an increase from 14.2 to 18.1 percent. 

"The responsible politicians in the federal and state governments must not stand idly by and watch this undesirable development," said Pellengahr. 

He called for a strengthening of language classes day-care centres, and a further expansion of all-day schools.

Pellengahr additionally pushed for economics to be taught in all of the states. 

"Those who learn to interpret poems should also understand their own mobile phone contracts," said Pellengahr. "That is not a contradiction in terms."

 
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