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Germany faces shortage of 26,000 primary school teachers

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Germany faces shortage of 26,000 primary school teachers
A classroom in Leipzig, Saxony. Photo: DPA
10:36 CEST+02:00
The nationwide shortage of primary school teachers is set to worsen in Germany.

There will be a shortfall of at least 26,300 teachers in primary schools across Germany by the year 2025, a new study by the Bertelsmann Foundation has found.

Experts found that 11,000 new teachers would have to be hired in 2025. Taking in employees who are set to retire, this would lead to 26,300 vacant primary school teaching positions.

Last October, the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) had calculated a shortage of 15,300 primary schools teachers in 2025. But the newest research shows the situation is even more dramatic. 

The Bertelsmann Foundation's study refers to the Federal Statistical Office's population forecast from June. For the year 2025, it predicts there will be 3.254 million to 3.323 million children between the ages of 6 and 10 in Germany.

Previous estimates from the foundation found 35,000 primary school teachers would be needed by 2025. However, it was based on a previous population forecast. 

'Wake-up call'

The findings are "a wake-up call,” said the authors of the study. Jörg Dräger, chairman of the foundation, said dealing with the shortage was a "Herculean task". 

READ ALSO: 'The teaching shortage is the worst it has ever been'

With increasing numbers of pupils, it is expected to take "several more years" until universities can train enough teachers and produce more graduates. 

The foundation said quick solutions were needed, such as relaxing the qualification requirements for prospective teachers, and encouraging those set for retirement to teach longer.

Education is run at the state level in Germany, and the 16 states have started to address the situation, said Alexander Lorz, president of the Kultusministerkonferenz, the assembly of ministers of education of the German states.

In addition, various measures had been taken to increase the numbers of teacher training students and the attractiveness of the profession, said Lorz, who is minister of education in the central state of Hesse.

"Our current figures also show that the demand for primary school teachers is greater than initially assumed, so this is nothing new," Lorz said.

Why is there a teacher shortage?

In addition to rising birth rates, one of the main reasons for the shortage is immigration to Germany.

"It must also be taken into account that teacher training takes five to seven years. So if there is a shortage of mathematics teachers today, it will take up to seven years for additional new teachers to arrive," the minister added. 

The German Education Union (GEW) called for an increase in the number of places for students and prospective teachers in universities.

"It is a shame that young people who have opted for the important profession of primary school teacher do not get a place at university," said GEW President Marlis Tepe.

 
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