Berlin schools and universities fare poorly nationwide

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Wed 18th Aug, 2021

Berlin suffers from a severe shortage of qualified teachers; year after year, only just under half of the vacancies can be filled by regularly trained teachers. However, when it comes to childcare conditions in schools, Berlin is at the top of the list nationwide. That is a result of the education monitor of the initiative new social market economy (INSM) published on Wednesday.

With a ratio of 13.4 students to one teacher in lower secondary schools, Berlin leads the nation. The capital also achieved the best values of all German states in terms of the number of teaching hours in all types of schools.Overall, Berlin lands in 13th place of the 16 federal states in the INSM Education Monitor ranking, but this represents a stabilization compared to the previous year. In 2020, it had moved up from last place toward the midfield.

The Education Monitor, which has been running for 18 years, is a comparative study conducted by the Institute of the German Economy (IW) on behalf of the INSM, which is financed by business associations, and uses a total of 93 indicators in 12 fields of action to assess "the extent to which a federal state reduces educational poverty, contributes to securing skilled workers and promotes growth" (an overview is available here).

Berlin scores points with its comprehensive all-day programs in daycare centers and schools, which an above-average number of children and young people take advantage of. As far as universities and science are concerned, the report points out that, measured against the city's economic strength, many researchers work in the city and that the proportion of foreign students is the highest in Germany.

However, the report criticizes the continuing high dropout rates among young people without a German passport, the fact that too many students do not meet the minimum standards in the core subjects and especially in mathematics and science, and that the number of apprenticeships available in the city is too low.

"The study proves that Berlin offers its students a far above-average number of hours of instruction. In addition, the study explicitly recognizes Berlin's efforts in terms of staffing and comprehensive all-day programs," comments the spokesperson for the education administration. The fact that the digitalization push at Berlin's schools during the pandemic is also mentioned in praise "is an incentive for us to by no means slacken our efforts in other areas either."

According to the Education Monitor, Berlin has now caught up with the middle of the field. In fact, with 44.4 points awarded, Berlin is almost level on points with the Flächenländer North Rhine-Westphalia (12th place with 44.5 points) and Schleswig-Holstein (11th place with 44.6 points).

However, the gap to the top states of Saxony (66.8 points), Bavaria (62.9 points) and Hamburg (58.7 points) is large. Bremen again brings up the rear with 39.6 points. Brandenburg occupies second-to-last place with 43.2 points.

Across all states, the INSM sees major regressions in school quality, integration and the reduction of educational poverty compared with the reference year 2013, when the current assessment criteria were introduced. In this context, the Corona pandemic had "exposed weak points in the education systems in all federal states."

However, the evaluated data on education statistics and from education studies date from 2018 to early 2020, which is why INSM and IW supplemented the study for the first time with representative surveys of parents of school-age children and teachers, the results of which confirm earlier surveys on the impact of the pandemic.

For example, 30 percent of teachers see serious learning gaps in more than half of their students, and 16 percent even say that almost all of them have large gaps. Among parents, 56 percent are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with learning opportunities in the past school year. Parents in the eastern states gave the worst rating to Corona lessons, while they were most satisfied in northern Germany and Bavaria.

The Corona catch-up package agreed by the federal and state governments was inadequate, INSM managing director Hubertus Pellengahr and IW study director Axel Plünnecke criticized to the press. For example, they said, the actual learning deficits had not been determined by means of uniform and thus comparable tests throughout Germany.

It is not enough for teachers to be given different materials and tests by the states in order to determine the level of knowledge and skills of students for internal school purposes, said Plünnecke. What is needed are nationwide comparative tests at the beginning of the school year and six months or a year later to evaluate which support measures are effective.Hubertus Pellengahr renewed the INSM demand for 20,000 IT administrators for schools. They would have to relieve teachers of the burden of digitization - and could thus also make the teaching profession more attractive.

Photo by Jerry Wang


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