INFOYER I German Wiki - Education system in Germany

The school education system differs between the various federal states, while the federal government plays only a minor role.
The majority of German students attend public schools. But there are also many private schools.

The school education system can be divided into three different levels:

1. Pre-School education (Kinderkrippe I Kindergarten)
2. Primary level (Grundschule)
3. Secondary level (weiterführende Schule)

Education in Germany: Pre-school System (Kinderkrippe I Kindergarten)

A nursery school (Kinderkrippe) is a place for the care of children aged between 0 and 3 years. The children will be cared by trained educators, which accompany the children in the first learning steps, ensure age-appropriate meals and naps. Many nurseries have a large outdoor area which allows to play outdoors.

Kindergarden (Kindergarten) in Germany take care of children between 3 and 6 years of age and supplement the family education. Kindergarden provides advanced experience and training opportunities. Children can play, romp, develop and learn with small experiments and playful teaching about nature and technology. Likewise, her language skills will be encouraged. They also have a big outdoor area for the kids.

There are several nurseries and Kindergardens of private, public or church organizations. Prices vary greatly and depend on the parents' income. The availability of seats is highly dependent on the region in Germany. It is advisable as early as possible to strive for a nursery place and to add on waiting lists.

To register your child in a nursery- or pre- school, you need a day care voucher (Kitagutschein). The day care voucher can be redeemed in any nursery- or pre-school of your choice if there is a seat available.

The following requirements must be met in order to apply for a day care voucher:
Legal guardian

  • You are a legal guardian for the child. Guardian are usually both parents.

Agreement of the other parent or guardian

  • The other guardian must agree to your request. If you are a single parent, you don´t need a permission.

Residing in Berlin

  • You and your child are resident in Berlin.

  • Your child is at least 8 weeks old. Your child does not go to school.

Timely application

  • Please submit the application earlier than nine months and no later than 2 months before your child go to the nursery- or pre-school. Please submit the application after your child is born.

You can basically distinguish between three types of childcare:

  • half-day (at least 4 to a maximum of 5 hours per day)
  • part-time (about 5 to a maximum of 7 hours per day)
  • full-time (daily for 7 to 9 hours maximum)
  • full-time expands (over 9 hours)

Finding the right nursery- or pre-school in your area, please click here.

Education in Germany: Primary Level (Grundschule)

At the primary school children visit the grades 1 to 4 (in Berlin / Brandenburg grades 1 to 6). Lessons and subjects are taught the same for all. They are taught basic skills like reading, writing and math, as well as local history, geography and biology. In contrast to some other countries, students also have religion classes. In addition to their homeroom teacher, they often have separate teachers for music and sports. In many primary schools students are assigned up to 30-60 minutes of homework daily.

According to that you have the decision to choose a secondary school: Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium. The primary school teacher gives each student a recommendation, which school is appropriate for him, based on the academic performance and skills.

If a child has the academic aptitude to warrant university education, he or she will move directly into the secondary school (Gymnasium).
Students who need another two years to develop their academic skills can attend middle school (Förderstufe), after which they can choose between the university track (Gymnasium) and intermediate schools (Hauptschule or Realschule).

Education in Germany: Secondary Level I & II

After completing the primary education (at the age of 10 or 12 in Berlin and Brandenburg and at the age of 10 in other regions), there are four options for pursuing Secondary Level I education:

  • Hauptschule  (non-academic secondary school, Grades 5 - 9 or 10)
  • Realschule (mid-level secondary school, Grades 5 – 10)
  • Gymnasium (academic secondary school, Grades 5 – 10)
  • Gesamtschule (comprehensive school, Grades 5 – 9 or 10)

The German school system is free and compulsory until 9th grade. After the Grundschule (primary/elementary school lasting four to six years), teachers recommend each pupil for one of three different types of secondary education. Parents have the final say about which school their child will attend.

Designed for students going into trades such as construction; complete after 9th or 10th grade (ages 14 to 16). During apprenticeships, pupils then attend Berufsschule, a dual-education vocational high school. The Hauptschule has been subject to significant criticism, as it tends to segregate the children of immigrants with schoolmates whose German is also poor, leading to a cycle of poverty.

Designed for students who want to apprentice for white-collar jobs not requiring university studies, such as banking; complete after 10th grade (age 15 to 16). Those who change their minds and decide to attend university can proceed after testing to:

Academic preparatory school for pupils planning to attend universities or polytechnics. Some offer a classical education (Latin, Greek), while others concentrate on economics and the like. The curriculum leading to the Abitur degree were recently reduced from 13th grade to 12th grade (ages 17 to 18 - "G8," eight years of Gymnasium).

A mixed ability school, puts all pupils in a single building, combining the three main types; these are still quite rare.
Students with special needs are assigned to Förderschule.

Successful completion of the above schools will lead to Mittlere Reife, which will qualify the pupils for vocational training at a vocational school (Fachabitur) at secondary level II or to attend school at secondary level II or to attend a Gymnasium (Grades 10 - 12 or 10 - 13).

Information about the schools is available at following places:

  • The Migration Advisory Service for Adult Immigrants (Migrationsberatung für erwachsene Zuwanderer (MBE))
  • School/Education authority
  • Local schools
  • Parents’ representation bodies and parental networks
  • Education counselling officesMigrant organizations

Education in Germany: Private Schools

Public schools in Germany are funded by the government: They are offering education for free of cost and the standard of education is relatively good.  Hence, the number of private schools in Germany is very low.  However, the current trend is increasing.  
The private schools may set their own emphases with regard to the content of their curricula and staff selection, but must accept the general conditions put down by the respective federal state. Private schools are also subject to the principle of equality and, therefore, cannot reject admission of pupils citing their financial situation. Hence, the argument that private schools are not for everyone because of their high costs is therefore not really valid. Tuition for a typical German private school ranges from 100-300 euros
per child, while a school with a strong bilingual program charge up to
900 euros monthly for a full-day of school.

Education in Germany: Higher Education

The German higher education institutions can be divided into three categories namely:

  • University (including technical universities)
  • University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule)
  • College of Art, Film or Music

Education in Germany: Medical Education

Germany has an excellent medical and health care system. Medical doctors are among the highest payed professionals in Germany.  Admission to medical schools in Germany is considered to be tougher than technical universities. This is because of high level of competition and limited number of seats. The number of medical universities is low as compared to Technical universities.

You can apply to German medical colleges through:

  1. Uni-Assist (Link Uni-Assist)
  2. Direct application to the International student’s office of the particular university.

If the German education system does not recognize your school leaving certificate, then another option is through “Studienkolleg” , which is a one year foundation course. After completing the course, you can apply for admission in Medical universities.

Some universities also require a TMS (Test für medizinische Studiengänge). It evaluates the knowledge and ability to study medicine.

Some of the best Medical universities are:

  • University of Heidelberg
  • Charite University
  • Medical University if Tübingen
  • University of Freiburg
  • University of Lübeck
  • Freie University, Berlin

There are no tuition fees charged in public medical universities but you have to show a particular amount in blocked account to get a visa. The information about blocked account can be found under the student visa section on this website. You can also check the following websites for searching funding options and scholarships.

If you are already practicing medicine in your home country and you wants to come to Germany, then you will have to apply to medical license agencies. Which will then evaluates your certificates, subjects of study, language proficiency. On the basis of this evaluation and the difference between the medical education in your home country and Germany, the decision is taken for further assessment, which may include theoretical, practical or both.  The assessment of education and professional experience is a case-by-case review.

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