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Germany lacking thousands of teachers: study

January 31, 2018

Germany's teacher shortage is set to get dramatically worse over the next few years, according to a new study. Experts predict there'll be a shortfall of 35,000 teachers in the country's primary schools by 2025.

School children sit in a classroom
Image: imago/photothek/F. Gaertner

A study published by the Bertelsmann Foundation Wednesday warned that Germany needs to hire around 105,000 new primary school teachers if it's to meet growing demand by 2025.

The number of teachers currently being trained at universities won't be enough to fill the gap. According to researchers, universities only have capacity to train 70,000 graduates over the next seven years.

In calculating the teacher shortfall, the study's authors took into account that around 60,000 teachers are expected to go into retirement. On top of that, 26,000 new teachers are required to keep up with the increasing student population in that same period.

Read more: German elementary schools 'rent' male teachers

Teaching for career changers

Germany's Education and Science Workers' Union said there were currently some 2,000 unfilled teaching positions at primary schools across the country.

Jörg Dräger, who is on Bertelsmann's executive board, urged the federal states responsible for schools to find solutions.

"Good schooling is good education – and that's achieved with good teachers," he said, adding that more "flexible access" to the teaching profession should not compromise quality education.

Read moreGermany works to level playing field for disadvantaged students

Bertelsmann pointed out that the situation is expected to improve after 2026, when the demographics in Germany's aging society will reduce pressure on educators.

The researchers said policymakers needed to employ a range of measures in the meantime to make sure younger students don't miss out. Around 40 percent of teachers currently work part-time. The study recommended, for example, that schools offer these teachers incentives to increase their hours.

Prospective retirees could also be asked to stay on for a few extra years to ease the burden in the short term, the researchers said.

nm/kms (AFP, dpa, epd)

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