"German education system still strong in international comparison"

OECD presents international report "Education at a Glance" with main focus on equity 

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), together with the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), has presented its report "Education at a Glance 2021". The main focus this year is equity.

Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek explained.

"Our education system compares very well internationally in a number of areas – for example in the transition into working life. In virtually no other country do so many young people find a job immediately after training. Only 6 percent fail to achieve this – the OECD average is 21 percent. However, in terms of equity we are not where we need to be.

At 13 percent, the proportion of young people in Germany with few qualifications is too high. In order to provide all children with good educational opportunities at an early stage, the federal government’s financial commitment to high-quality education is greater than ever before. Last week, for example, we voted to make all day care a legal entitlement. The federal government is supporting this increased commitment with €3.5 million and with €1.3 million annually for ongoing costs.

This enables the provision of additional offers in languages and cultural education. We are also moving forward with digitalisation in schools, using the Digital Pact for Schools to make €6.5 billion available. Well-designed digital education is helping us to support each child in the best way possible and to ensure equity. In order to compensate for differences in outcomes exacerbated as result of the coronavirus crisis, we have launched the 'Catch up after Corona' programme with funding of €2 billion".

The Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs for Hesse, Prof. R. Alexander Lorz, a member of the Presidium of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs explains.

"The way in which the pandemic has developed shows how well education and training are able to contribute to the stability of the labour market. For example, unemployment among 25-to-34-year-olds with an upper secondary level school leaving certificate has remained relatively low despite setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the rise, in this case from 3.1 percent (2019) to 3.9 percent (2020), it is less than half the OECD and EU average (9 percent). This shows just how relevant vocational education and training is to the labour market in Germany. Even in times of crisis, and with support from wide-ranging programmes such as the short time working regulation, VET offers good prospects.

The coronavirus pandemic presented the education and training sector with major challenges, but also made it manifestly clear where we need to improve in the future. Financial support from the digital pact and the independent programmes of the federal states have provided a major impetus. We are combining the provision of technology equipment to schools (broadband connections, Wi-Fi and tablets) with pedagogical concepts to support teaching and, in doing so, we are ensuring meaningful use of IT in schools.

Teaching staff are determining pupils’ level of learning at the start of the academic year to ensure they are provided with the best form of individual support following school closures due to the pandemic. Pupils who struggle in school and with lessons are those in need of our particular attention in order for us to achieve greater equity in the education and training system."


The OECD report "Education at a Glance" aims to use quantitative indicators to enable a comparison of education systems in 38 OECD states as well as eight partner states. The report is divided into four main chapters: A: Impact on learning, B: Participation in education, C: Investment in education, D: Learning environment.

An additional chapter contains data on the sustainable development goal of education and training.

Source: bmbf.bund.de (website of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research), revised by iMOVE, October 2021

Editor's note: The federal government changed in December 2021. Since then, Bettina Stark-Watzinger has been Minister of Education and Research.