Country Listing

Germany Table of Contents


Educational Finances

Education is the second largest item of public spending after social security and welfare and in the 1990-91 academic year amounted to 4 percent of GNP. Education is not paid for by local property taxes but rather out of general revenues. Since 1949 the federal government, the Länder , and the local governments, including in some cases intercommunal single or multipurpose districts (Zweckverbände ), have shared in financing education. For elementary, primary, and secondary education, the Länder and the local governments are the major funding sources. The Länder are responsible for teachers' salaries, curriculum development, and the setting of standards and qualifications. Local governments are responsible for the maintenance and operation of school facilities. The Länder remain the main source of funding for higher education, but the federal government also plays a role. In 1991 the Länder paid about 74 percent of total education costs (68 percent in 1970); local governments contributed 16 percent (24 percent in 1970); and the federal government contributed 10 percent (8 percent in 1970).

The Education System

The Basic Law of 1949 grants every German citizen the right to self-fulfillment. In theory, citizens are able to choose the type of education they want and are given access to their preferred occupation or profession. The goal of educational policy is therefore to provide each citizen with opportunities to grow personally, professionally, and as a citizen in accordance with his or her abilities and preferences. The Länder are to provide equal educational opportunities and quality education for all through a variety of educational institutions.

Education is free and in most types of school is coeducational. Almost all elementary and secondary schools and about 95 percent of higher education institutions are public. College, graduate, and postgraduate students pay a nominal fee ranging from DM35 to DM60 a semester, which includes extensive rights to health care and other social benefits. When churches or private organizations run kindergartens, they do so independently, and the public sector is not involved.

According to the terms of the Düsseldorf Treaty of 1955, the first major attempt to unify or coordinate the school systems of the Länder , school attendance is mandatory for a minimum of nine years (or in some Länder ten years), beginning at age six. A student who starts vocational training as an apprentice must attend a part-time vocational school until the age of eighteen.

Data as of August 1995