Germans want more centralized education

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Germans are in favor of more centralized management of education, which right now is organized at the state level. German Länder – party sovereign states – currently make the most important education policy decisions, but 60 percent of the population wants the federal government to do so instead.

This is a finding from the ifo Education Barometer for 2020, which surveyed 10,000 German citizens. The survey respondents also want more federal involvement in funding education and are in favor of more uniformity and comparability in the education system.

The ifo survey found that 70 percent of Germans are in favor of setting up a national education council that would make non-binding recommendations to increase the uniformity of the country’s education system. A full 83 percent want an education agreement among the Länder with binding standards. For 88 percent of the survey respondents, it is important to be able to compare the achievements of students from different Länder.

Accordingly, clear majorities support certain proposed reforms, such as regular testing of students for the purposes of Länder comparison (76 percent), nationally standardized tests that factor into students’ grades (69 percent), nationally standardized syllabi for upper secondary levels (88 percent), and a standard core Abitur, or exit exam (84 percent).

At the same time, the survey found that schools should be able to choose their teaching staff themselves (according to 63 percent of respondents) and to make their own decisions about how they allocate their resources (54 percent).

Most Germans (63 percent) said all the Länder should take turns regarding the sequence of summer vacation start dates. Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg oppose this idea and start their vacation periods as late in the season as possible. In contrast, the idea of having all Länder start vacation at the same time was rejected by 64 percent of Germans.

In Länder with high-performing students, the majority of survey respondents are satisfied with their state’s education policy. In Länder with poorer academic performance, most are dissatisfied. These differences become more pronounced when the survey respondents are informed about the facts of their state’s performance.

For the 2020 ifo Education Barometer, the institute surveyed over 10,000 people aged 18–69.

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