Education Overview in Germany

In Germany, education is the responsibility of the states (Länder) and part of their constitutional sovereignty (Kulturhoheit der Länder). Teachers are employed by the Ministry of Education for the state and usually have a job for life after a certain period (verbeamtet) (which, however, is not comparable in timeframe nor competitiveness to the typical tenure track, e.g. at universities in the US). This practice depends on the state and is currently changing. A parents' council is elected to voice the parents' views to the school's administration. Each class elects one or two "Klassensprecher" (class presidents; if two are elected usually one is male and the other female), who meet several times a year as the "Schülerrat" (students' council).

A team of school presidents is also elected by the pupils each year, whose main purpose is organizing school parties, sports tournaments and the like for their fellow students. The local town is responsible for the school building and employs the janitorial and secretarial staff. For an average school of 600 - 800 students, there may be two janitors and one secretary. School administration is the responsibility of the teachers, who receive a reduction in their teaching hours if they participate.

Church and state are separated in Germany. Compulsory school prayers and compulsory attendance at religious services at state schools are against the constitution. (It is expected, though, to stand politely for the school prayer even if one does not pray along.) In 1995, it was ruled that the Christian cross was not allowed in classrooms, as it violates the religious freedom of non-Christian students. The cross is allowed if none of the pupils object, but must be removed in the event of an objection. Some German states have banned teachers from wearing headscarves.

Over 99% of Germans age 15 and above are estimated to be able to read and write. However, a growing number of inhabitants are functionally illiterate. This is an issue that was addressed to be solved in recent years. Though there has not been found a solution to the growing illiteracy problem, the government of Germany is trying hard.