Merkel Announces Major Education Offensive | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 13.06.2008
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Merkel Announces Major Education Offensive

German chancellor Angela Merkel is putting the nation's educational system on her list of domestic priorities in the run-up to a major nationwide education summit in fall.

teacher with blackboard in background in front of a school classroom

Merkel said Germany must once again become the "republic of education"

On Thursday Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a major offensive to tackle Germany's educational system from the kindergarden level to technical schools and night schools for senior citizens.

Germany, which likes to tout itself as the land of poets and thinkers, must once again "become the republic of education," Merkel said in a speech. "Prosperity for all means education for all."

In no other country in the world in the Western world does a child's socio-economic background make such a difference in educational achievement, according to educational experts at OECD.

In Germany, the “Hauptschule”, which is the lowest rung in a three-tier educational system which tracks pupils according to academic ability at the age of ten, has come under harsh attack. A disproportionate number of children from poor or migrant families attend the German Hauptschule.

Migrants and the poor are not more stupid

“Back in the industrial age, the tripartite system worked, since the goal was to maximize the academic potential of only a few, but it has no place in a modern society,” Andreas Schleicher, coordinator of the Pisa studies for OECD said in a DW-World.DE interview.

German strikers in consultation on the soccer pitch

Many top strikers on the German national soccer team are immigrants who made it

“Migrants are not more stupid. There is too little being done to push language competence. We need to ask ourselves, how can we support the child individually?” added Schleicher.

Merkel said a national education summit will take place in Dresden on October 22 with representatives from all of Germany's 16 federal states. In Germany, it is the states that are responsible for running the country's school system.

Soccer provides the possibility for all to advance

With the European championships now in full swing, Merkel also singled out one field where talent and merit allows any individual to advance--soccer.

“Mario Gomez, Kevin Kuranyi, Lukas Podolski are only three of many talented strikers on our national team,” she said, hinting that the success of three foreign-born German citizens who made it, should be a model for the rest of the nation.

The chancellor, who sees a good education as the key for integration of migrants in German society, is making educational policy the cornerstone of domestic policy “Being a teacher is one of the most important professions in our society,” she added.

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