Equal educational opportunities for all

Equal educational opportunities for all

Good education is of course vital for everyone, but it also provides the foundation for a knowledge-based society. Equal access to education, well-equipped schools, the latest learning content and opportunities for lifelong learning – in the national dialogue, this is what people believed to be the foundation of wellbeing. Many people criticised the federal structure of the educational system.

Good education is of course vital for everyone, but it also provides the foundation for a knowledge-based society. Equal access to education, well-equipped schools, the latest learning content and opportunities for lifelong learning – in the national dialogue, this is what people believed to be the foundation of wellbeing. Many people criticised the federal structure of the educational system.

Education – the key to a good life

A federal school system makes no sense anymore. We have to get rid of all this regionalism; I don’t see any reason why we should have different school-leaving certificates.
from the national dialogue event of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Magdeburg on 7 July 2015

Education helps people to find their direction in life and make sound judgements. Education is also vital for a competitive economy education, getting a good job and earning a secure income.

The proportion of persons with at least secondary school graduation indicator shows how many people have at least completed vocational training or gained a university entrance qualification. It measures a country's performance in education - i.e. the educational level of a society and therefore approximates the quality of the German education system.

Anyone who gains a university entrance qualification or completes vocational training in Germany today has good opportunities in the job market. In 2016, 87 out of 100 people aged 25 to 64 in Germany held at least one of these qualifications – five more people than the OECD average. The share of young women aged 25 to 34 with at least secondary school graduation is now slightly above the share of men with that qualification.

Proportion of persons with at least secondary school (II) graduation by age group and gender 2016

Education is one of the key prerequisites for the integration of migrants. Here too, there has been a process of catching up in the years up to 2016. The proportion of migrants who have gained a university entrance qualification or completed vocational training has increased significantly in the younger age groups. However, there is still a clear gap between people with and without migration backgrounds.

Proportion of persons with at least secondary school (II) graduation by age group and migration background 2016

What Does the Government Do?

Article 30 of Germany’s Basic Law (Grundgesetz) stipulates that education is primarily the responsibility of the federal states. The federal government supports the states and students in Germany with a wide range of measures, such as the expansion of early childhood education and all-day schooling. At the 2008 education summit, the federal and state governments committed to increasing their total expenditure on education, science and research to 10 per cent of GDP. The federal government is committed to this ambitious goal.

Identify and reduce risks at an early stage

The course of one's educational success is often set at an early age. A lack of school or vocational qualifications leads to a lack of opportunities in the labour market. This was also discussed in the national dialogue. Some young people have difficulties getting started on the educational path. They need targeted support.

Education must be guaranteed – regardless of income.
from the national dialogue event of the Bertelsmann-Stiftung in Gütersloh on 8 May 2015

The risk group of early school-leavers serves as an indicator here. They are between 18 and 24 years old and leave school or a training programme with only lower secondary education or less, and they are no longer in school or a training programme.

Their numbers have dropped over recent years, from around 13 per cent in 2003 to about 10 per cent in 2016. However, young men in Germany (10.8 per cent) have higher risk compared to young women (9.8 per cent). With this, Germany came close to one of the core tartgets of the Europe 2020 Strategy for Employment and Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.

Across Europe the number of early school-leavers has fallen from more than 16 per cent to 10.7 per cent. Hence, Germany is below the European average in 2016.1

Early school leavers as proportion of age group 18 to 24 by gender

There are also fewer early school leavers among young migrants in Germany. In 2005 the rate of early school leavers was 24 per cent, but only 18 per cent in 2016.

Despite this improvement, there is still a clear gap between people with and without migration background. Special efforts have to be made to ensure that education as a driver of integration is effective, particularly because many refugees with little formal education have sought asylum in Germany in 2015 and 2016.

Early school leavers as proportion of age group 18 to 24 by migration background

What Does the Government Do?

With its Quality Offensive for Teacher Training (Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung), the government is trying to help those who are responsible for the education of the future. Disadvantaged children, teenagers and young adults receive services from the Education and Participation Package (Bildungs- und Teilhabepaket), the government's educational support programme, along with other initiatives such as Culture is Strength. Education Alliances (Kultur macht stark. Bündnisse für Bildung).

Equal opportunities for all

Educational equity is one of the topics that was hotly debated during the national dialogue. People agreed that when it comes to marks and qualifications, fairness is paramount. Wherever possible, every child should have equal opportunities in the educational system. But studies show that the educational success of children in Germany is not always based on their performance, but also on their background. In Germany there is a strong relationship between the educational attainment of parents and their children.

It’s important to me that in Germany as well, every child, regardless of his or her social background, should have the opportunity to pursue the type of education that will help them achieve their full potential.
from an online response submitted on 22 August 2015

The educational mobility between parents and children indicator compares the highest general school-leaving qualification of the parents with that of their children.

In Germany there is a strong relationship between parental levels of education and those achieved by their children. More than seven out of ten children whose parents have a university or university of applied science entrance qualification also gain this qualification. The proportion of young people who leave the education system with no formal qualification is very low in these families.

On the other hand, the evidence shows that many children in Germany make an advancement in the educational system. In fact, upward educational mobility is currently strongest in educationally disadvantaged families: More than 80 per cent of these children leave school with qualification and about 24 per cent even gain a university or university of applied science entrance qualification. If we look back at the last 20 years, the trend is clearly positive. In 2016, one in four children with parents who had no school-leaving qualifications gained their university entrance certificate. Two decades ago, it was only one in thirteen.

There is still a lot to do, as it is still the case that one in five children from educationally disadvantaged households leave school without qualifications and hence have fewer opportunities when it comes to finding good jobs, earning a good income – and, in short, having a good life.

Educational mobility between parents and children 2016
Educational mobility between parents and children 1995

In families with a migration background the picture is a mixed one. Even if parents have gained university entrance qualification, above-average numbers of their children gain only basic secondary school certificates or leave school without any qualification. But on the positive side above-average numbers of children with a migration background whose parents have no school qualification have gone on to gain basic secondary school qualification or university or applied university entrance qualification.

Overall, it remains a top priority to weaken the relationship between social background and educational achievement.

Educational mobility between parents and children in families with migration background 2016

It is only possible to gain a comprehensive picture of educational mobility if we first look at the overall educational trajectory of a young person. Vocational and academic qualifications should be viewed alongside general school qualifications. This is particularly important for illustrating the internationally recognised system of dual education and its important contribution to low youth unemployment and opportunities for young people.

What Does the Government Do?

With the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG), the federal government ensures that young people can afford a good education regardless of their parents' income. Since 2015, the federal government has been the sole funder of the BAföG. In autumn 2016, the grants were increased by 7 per cent.

Life-long learning

Education does not stop with school, vocational training or a college degree. More and more people want to continue learning – for professional reasons, but also for their own personal development. From their own experience, the participants in the national dialogue mainly took a positive view of further education.

I think that life-long learning offers the greatest opportunities today – especially in our digitised world.
from the national dialogue event of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Magdeburg on 7 July 2015

The indicator participation in further education shows the proportion of 18 to 64-year-olds who have participated in a company-related, individual profession-related or non-profession-related further education programme over the last 12 months.

Participation in further education by age group 2007 and 2016

In 2014, this involved half of all people in the 18-64 age group. In 2007 only 43 per cent of this group participated in further education. The increase affected all age groups, but was particularly marked among those aged 55-64 years, at more than 17 percentage points. Lifelong learning is more important than ever in light of technological advances and an aging society. The need for lifelong learning in the further education activities of those aged 65 to 69 years, who were surveyed for the very first time in 2016. One in five individuals participated in further education, but mainly in non-profession-related training.

Companies are the most important providers for further education in Germany. 71 per cent of all further education is company-related. Profession-related further education activities account for 10 per cent of all further education, while 20 per cent are non-profession-related activities. The focus of the training activities varies according to the type of further education. Company-related and individual profession-related further education generally revolves around economy, work and law and nature, technology and IT, while non-profession-related further education mainly involves training on languages, culture and politics.

Types of further education by topic 2016

What Does the Government Do?

Federal funding programmes such as the Education Subsidy (Bildungsprämie) and the Upgrading Training Assistance Act (Aufstiegs-BAföG) open up new perspectives for adults who want to participate in further education. The federal government also offers a hotline for citizens who need advice about further education.

Footnotes

  1. 1

    Die minor deviations of the numbers published by Eurostat and the German Federal Statistical Office are due to methodological differences in the calculations.

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