VARIOUS TEXTS: Thousands of German School Students Strike

Thousands of school students the length and breadth of Germany struck and demonstrated yesterday against the worsening of their education.

The main demands of the students include smaller classes, more teachers and an end to privatisation measures. As a result of their low ranking in the PISA tables there has been frantic activity in Germany to improve education. However the main policies were the introduction of testing, the cramming of more teaching into a shorter time and no review of the ancient German system which still obtains of dividing children at the age of ten into three different types of school depending on their ‘academic ability.’ This despite the fact that one of the clear lessons of the PISA study was that those countries which had integrated systems did a lot better. Not only that but school students are more and more frequently asked to pay fees for course materials and text books.

The students are now showing their anger with this situation and thousands of them poured onto the streets in 30 different towns. The main slogan of the march was ‘Tear down the Barriers to Education’ - not least the tri-partite system but also the increasing sponsorship of schools by private companies and a reduction of exam stress - the German system is very punitive in this respect. The call is for ‘Democratisation of School - one School for All.’

In fact far from the system improving because of the reform process since the Pisa study, most interested parties believe it has got worse. This is in no small measure due to funding. The average spent on a German school student’s education is $7800 on average as against an average of $12000 in for example the US and Switzerland.

The teachers’ union the GEW has urged its members not to punish the students severely for their action - while student demonstrations are allowed by law in Germany, strikes are not.
Source: www.teachersolidarity.com

1. Describe the cartoon and discuss the message it conveys to the reader.
2. The PISA study did not give German schools favourite marks. Do you think that the reason for the bad results lie in Germany's three-tier-school system?
3. Do you think that funding schools with more money would result in better schools?
4. Write a letter to a politician complaining about the reduction of secondary education by one school-year.

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