German Press Review: A Humbling Ranking | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 15.09.2004
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German Press Review: A Humbling Ranking

German editorials focused on Wednesday on the results of the OECD’s study on education around the world and commented on Russian President Putin’s plans to reform his government’s security policies.

The Financial Times Deutschland recalled the slogan “Knowledge is power” and believed that education was the foundation for future prosperity. Yet Germany has been investing far too little, far too long, and in the wrong areas of education, the paper commented. Education is not a high priority for the German public, it added. Nor has a committed, ambitious politician made it part of his or her agenda, wrote the paper. The worst of the matter is that Germany lacks a systemic way of financially supporting young children who don't have access to books and teaching materials. It then becomes evident in international comparisons of educational systems that early deficiencies can hardly be made up later, lamented the paper.

The Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung went a step further, demanding to know in its editorial whether the German government wasn’t trying to save money so hard as to make its people deaf and dumb. Looking at the study of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) would lead one to believe this, the paper noted. Germany’s ranking in the study is humbling, particularly in the area of funding kindergartens and elementary schools where the foundations of education begin, the paper wrote. It is appalling that Germany took second to last place among OECD countries in this area, the paper said. Little children who started school filled with curiosity deserve the best, the daily concluded.

Berlin’s Die Welt took a philosophical approach, noting that the OECD study named only facts and figures but didn’t look at content. All the time and energy that flowed into the OECD study resulted in information about prerequisites for education, not about what is actually being taught. Of course, one has to learn to read in order to be successful in life, argued the paper. But more important is what one reads, how one reads, and what one does with the information. The OECD study didn’t address that, wrote the daily.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung agreed, saying the OECD’s focus on numbers neglected the quality of education. Decisive for a good education are not the number of hours spent in school, but talented, motivated teachers, opined the paper.

The tageszeitung from Berlin viewed the OECD study in a broader context, saying that Germany’s school system is only one side of the coin. The other side starts at home. All parents should realize that children are entitled to a proper education. And when OECD studies show that certain groups in society are not supporting their children enough, then these parents should be given a jump-start by schools and authorities. Special programs and play centers are needed and the government should invest in them because every cent was better spent in education than elsewhere, the paper concluded.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung looked beyond Germany to Russia in its editorial. With President Vladimir Putin’s announced reforms, it has become abundantly clear that the Russian leader’s supposed strength is actually a weakness, the paper said. In the future, Putin will appoint regional governors himself, thereby making them more dependent on his leadership. These are not governmental reforms but an expansion of Putin’s own style of governing, wrote the paper. However, none of this will, can, or should help to strengthen Russia in its fight against terror, remarked the paper.