What's wrong with today's education system

"Education in Germany 2020"

The Federal Minister for Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, and the President of the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) and Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Education, Dr. Stefanie Hubig, together with the speaker of the group of authors, Prof. Dr. Maaz (DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education) presented the report "Education in Germany 2020". The eighth education report describes the overall development of the German education system. The focus of the current report is "Education in a digitized world". The education report appears every two years.

The current education report documents positive developments such as the increasing participation in education, the quantitative expansion of the educational staff, continuously higher education expenditure and a rising level of education. The report attests to the higher permeability of the education system and increased flexibility in educational decisions.

The focus chapter "Education in a digitized world" is particularly topical in the ongoing corona pandemic: The use of digital media for informal learning in leisure time is a matter of course. This is seldom the case within educational institutions, and there are also great differences between educational institutions and areas. In universities and further education, digital media are far more natural than in schools. Digital skills are "expandable" for schoolchildren, for example. When using digital media in the classroom, it is important to use it in a didactically sensible and critically reflective manner.

The Education Report 2020 also points to challenges for the education system: For example - compared to the low in 2013 - more young people are leaving school without a secondary school diploma; There are people with poor written language skills across all areas of education. As before, the influence of social background on educational success is great; regional differences and migration-specific disadvantages remain challenging. The educational staff are faced with higher educational demands, for example due to the composition of the groups and classes that have to be taken into account in the education, training and further education of those employed in the education sector.

“A good education is the foundation for a good life and a good future for our country. Education must be worth every effort to us. This education report is another indicator of where we stand in education in Germany. There is a lot of light, but also shadow. I was very pleased with the finding that participation in education is increasing, the level of education has improved and educational pathways have become more flexible. This shows that we are on the right track in many areas. For this I would like to thank the teachers and other educational staff in particular, but of course also the parents, who have achieved a lot in the past few months. It wasn't an easy time for the students either. During the Corona crisis in particular, deficits in digitization in the education sector became apparent, which are also addressed in this report. Because the equipment with hardware and software is one thing. But it must be used in a pedagogically sensible way. With the DigitalPakt Schule, we therefore made sure from the start that the promotion of digital infrastructures and the development of educational concepts go hand in hand, ”said the Federal Minister for Education and Research, Anja Karliczek.

The KMK President and Education Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate Dr. Stefanie Hubig said: “Education succeeds, but there is still a lot of work to do. The progress that the education report shows remains our biggest construction sites: equal opportunities, permeability and orientation towards advancement.
The Corona crisis is an immense challenge for the entire educational landscape, which threatens to exacerbate educational injustice. We must therefore continue to pay special attention to schoolchildren from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds who receive less support from their parents and who often do not have the technical equipment to now take part in digital lessons on an equal footing.

We see in the Corona crisis that we have to catch up with digital education. Countries reacted quickly to cushion the direct impact. At the same time, the federal government, the federal states and the school authorities must now jointly strengthen school structures that are designed for the long term. All-day care not only makes a valuable contribution to the compatibility of family and work, but also opens up more educational opportunities. It therefore makes me very positive that the education report shows nationwide movement in the expansion and use of the full day. "


The current report confirms the positive developments in the German education system:

  • Expenditures for education, research and science have risen: in 2017 to almost 300 billion euros and - according to preliminary calculations - in 2018 to a good 310 billion euros. This corresponds to an increase of 30 percent compared to 2010 and a little changed share of 9.3 percent of GDP, which also recorded significant increases in this period. The annual expenditure per pupil at public schools rose by around 22 percent to 7,300 euros between 2010 and 2017.
  • More children - more students: The number of participants in education has increased further, to 17.2 million people in 2018. This development is not only due to increasing birth rates and increased immigration from abroad, but also to an increasingly earlier participation in education and a trend towards higher qualifications.
  • More high school graduates - more university graduates: The educational level of the population has developed positively in the last ten years: in 2008, 24 percent of the population aged 15 and over had a higher education entrance qualification, in 2018 it was 33 percent. In the same period, the proportion of people whose highest school leaving certificate is the secondary school leaving certificate fell from 39 percent to 30 percent. The proportion of university graduates rose by five percentage points to 18 percent in the same period.
  • The number of those employed in the education system has increased continuously since 2008. The greatest growth up to 2018 was recorded in early education (+ 63 percent) and at universities (+37 percent).
  • The number of children taking advantage of early education increased from 2.6 million to 3.3 million between 2006 and 2019.
  • Both the offer of all-day care and the use of it have increased significantly. In the 2018/19 school year, 68 percent of all schools were designated as all-day schools. In 2005/06 this only applied to 30 percent of all schools. Around half of all primary school children (1.5 million) used all-day care in schools or day-care centers in the 2018/19 school year.
  • While the number of pupils fell at the same time, there were almost 20,000 more teachers working at general and vocational schools nationwide in the 2018/19 school year than ten years ago. In addition, the proportion of teachers under 40 has increased by ten percentage points in the last 15 years. Nevertheless, the age structure of school colleges differs from region to region and is not always balanced. The need for well-trained educational staff remains high.
  • The high demand for studies continues. According to preliminary calculations, the number of new students in 2018 was over half a million for the sixth time in a row. The proportion of new enrollments at universities of applied sciences has risen to 44 percent of all first-year students.
  • The educational opportunities for children from poorly qualified parents increased despite continuing social disparities. They are more likely to achieve a higher level of education than their parents.
  • Education brings positive returns for the individual and society. Long and qualified education have a positive effect on the individual situation (e.g. better job opportunities and higher livelihoods, nutrition, political interests) and support economic performance and social cohesion.

The focus chapter on education in the digitized world comes to the following conclusions:

  • Digital technologies are now a natural part of everyday life, even though there are individual and structural differences in access to digital media. These arise, for example, from the social situation or from regional conditions.
  • The use of digital media is widespread in higher education and further education, less often in schools and only partially in early education.
  • There is a great need for development in equipping schools and facilities for early education with digital media.
  • The success of digitally supported learning processes depends largely on the didactically meaningful and critically reflected use of digital technologies. The technology used does not seem to be decisive, but how teachers integrate digital media into everyday teaching and learning.
  • The digital skills of the training participants can be expanded and differ between different groups. Performance disparities are particularly evident to the detriment of boys, schoolchildren with a migration background and those from parental homes with a low social status.

The report also shows overarching trends and problem areas in the education system:

  • Overall, the education system is characterized by a higher degree of permeability. Regardless of origin and first educational path, there are many opportunities to achieve an individually high level of education even after an initial lower formal qualification.
  • Despite the long-term trend towards higher education, young people are again more likely to have no qualifications. There are increasing disparities between the formally low and the highly qualified. Young men are more likely to have lower formal qualifications than young women. This has far-reaching consequences. A formally low qualification increases the risk of social or financial risk situations for the individual and often makes it difficult to access stable professional positions.
  • Digitization is advancing in all areas of education. Digital media are increasingly being integrated into teaching-learning processes, not only for current events, but also in the long-term trend, but to different degrees in the various educational areas.

To attach the education report

The education report, which has been published every two years since 2006, is produced by an independent group of scientists led by the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Educational Research and Educational Information developed. The German Institute for Adult Education Leibniz Center for Lifelong Learning eV (DIE), the German Youth Institute (DJI), the German Center for University and Science Research (DZHW), the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) and the Sociological Research Institute are involved at the University of Göttingen (SOFI) as well as the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) and the statistical offices of the federal states (StLÄ).

The particular importance of the education report is to present the various educational areas of education in the life course in their context and indicator-based over longer periods of time and thus to make overarching challenges in the German education system visible.

The report as well as further materials and information can be found on the Internet at www.bildungsbericht.de.