Foreign kids should take German test: Koehler

21st September 2006, Comments 0 comments

21 September 2006, BERLIN - President Horst Koehler called Thursday for a reform of Germany's education system, following a report which showed it had dropped behind those of other leading industrialized nations. "Whoever saves in the field of education is saving in the wrong place," the president said in a keynote address at a secondary school in the working class Berlin suburb of Neukoelln. Another school in the same multi-ethnic district made national headlines six months ago when its teachers made a pu

21 September 2006

BERLIN - President Horst Koehler called Thursday for a reform of Germany's education system, following a report which showed it had dropped behind those of other leading industrialized nations.

"Whoever saves in the field of education is saving in the wrong place," the president said in a keynote address at a secondary school in the working class Berlin suburb of Neukoelln.

Another school in the same multi-ethnic district made national headlines six months ago when its teachers made a public appeal for help, saying they could no longer cope with violent pupils.

Education, the president said, is the most important investment that society and each individual can make. A decline in the number of school age children in Germany should not lead to budgetary cuts but should be used for other possibilities, he said.

His remarks followed a survey released last week by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which showed Germany was not producing enough university or high school graduates.

The percentage of young people obtaining a degree in Germany stood at 20.6 per cent in 2004, well below the OECD average of 34.8 per cent, the Education at a Glance survey showed.

The president said in his speech that a dictatorship was happy to have an uneducated population, while a democracy required alert and interested citizens.

"One needs to be educated to stand up to populists, extremists and religious fanatics," he said, adding that the education system was a matter that concerned the entire nation.
Koehler also called for more money to be invested in pre-schooling and said children from immigrant families should be given a language test before starting school.

"A good knowledge of German is essential for success at school and during further education," the president said, urging immigrant parents to learn the language as well and practise it with their children.

He also emphasized the need for religious education at schools even in a pluralist society like Germany.

"The time has come for children of the Muslim faith attending our schools to be offered Islam instruction in German from trained teachers," Koehler said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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