Saxony leads education vanguard

Germany’s education system from kindergarten to university is making noticeable progress with the state of Saxony leading the way, according to an annual education survey.

Saxony leads education vanguard
Photo: DPA

All 16 German states have improved educational conditions over the past year, the Bildungsmonitor 2011, a study conducted by the Institute of German Economics (IW) in Cologne and sponsored by the Initiative for New Social Market Economics (INSM), said.

The eastern state of Saxony has retained its lead in education, followed by Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg. The city-state of Berlin remains on the bottom of the list despite marked advances.

Early learning strategies at German Kitas – preschools separate from the formal education system generally for children between the ages of three and six – are especially important to insuring better chances in school, researchers said. Meanwhile, despite sinking enrolment, grammar schools have retained current teaching positions, leading to better teacher-student ratios.

The German education system “must offer individual support in Kita and grammar schools, in addition to wide access to qualified academic degrees, in order for Germany to continually produce competitive skilled personnel in the future,” said INSM managing director Hubertus Pellengahr.

The realisation of this individual support has also led to more students achieving their Abitur, university-track high school diplomas, as well as more enrolled uni students and working-age graduates — the method of producing more academics where Germany has achieved the most overall progress.

Around 428,000 additional qualified college graduates, including 124,000 in MINT subjects (maths, computer science and information technology, natural science, engineering) since 2000, translated into more than €6.8 billion added value for the German national economy.

All together, the German states have made significant educational gains compared to the first Bildungsmonitor in 2004, jumping from 21 points to 70.4 on a 100 point rating scale. Particularly strong improvements to the previous year were found in the states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Thuringia, Berlin, Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse, the 2011 report said.

The country has also achieved “considerable progress” in integrating pupils with immigrant backgrounds. Non-German school drop-outs fell by 1.2 percent to 13.8 percent, while the number of graduates increased. In addition, the percent of elementary students at day schools rose 2.6 percent.

Nonetheless, Pellengahr said the educational system would need to continue fighting educational poverty and work to assure equal opportunities.

The Bildungsmonitor compares the educational systems of the states using 111 criteria, including the number of all-day schools and Kitas, school drop-out rate, graduation rate and engineering graduates.

German education boasts a “good leading position” among European countries, according to the director of the study, Axel Plünnecke, although it still lags behind international leaders Canada, Switzerland and Finland.

DPA/The Local/emh

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Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime