What was about a year ago, I learned about Germany’s specialisation system in school; this occurs earlier on, at the end of elementary school where pre-schoolers, as per the recommendation of their classroom teacher and the wishes of their parents, go on to one of three schools: Gymnasium, Realschule or Hauptshclule, although in many states, a comprehensive Gesamtschule does exist.
The more academically inclined are encouraged to go on to Gymnasium where they are prepped for university, whereas those not so much are put in Realschule or Hauptschule where the focus is more on preparing students for more vocational-based study, and eventually, work.
That’s not to say that students put in Realschule or Hauptschule never make into the more rigorous Gymnasium and ultimately, to university; they may do so if they wish (students and parents are given the choice of school placement more than once) and by exhibiting improved test scores where they’re currently placed at.
While some say argue that this system is unfair, or that it separates students too early (which may disrupt friendships), for someone like me, who at times in school felt forced to perform beyond my academic abilities, I was pleased (and slightly envious, that’s for sure!) to find out that students in Germany and neighbouring countries such as Austria and Switzerland have other options of study if they’re not too enthusiastic about, or cut out for, academia.
One example of this is the dual vocational programme where students start paid apprenticeships after middle or high school instead of enrolling into university.
And, the results of this have been great. Germany not only has an incredibly skilled workforce but also youth unemployment is the lowest it has ever been.
Such an education system might not be perfect, but really, which one is? This one in particular has its shortcomings, yes, but the fact that it’s got well-developed, alternative paths for job procurement all while catering to students’ different competency levels is, in my opinion, very admirable.