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Education and Cultural Activities

Though the FRG (West Germany) and the GDR (East Germany) shared centuries of cultural history, the GDR was heavily influenced by Soviet values and social systems. Since reunification the educational system in eastern Germany has abandoned the Soviet polytechnic model of comprehensive education for all high school students, and returned to the specialized system of the western part of the country.


Schooling in Germany is compulsory and free for people between the ages of 6 and 18. Although education is controlled by the individual state governments, national coordinating groups ensure that school systems and requirements are roughly the same throughout the region. Almost all adults in Germany are literate.

Children begin their education with four years at a Grundschule (primary school). On completion of the Grundschule at about the age of ten, students are given extensive tests, the results of which largely determine their subsequent schooling. Almost half of the students go on to a Hauptschule (post-primary school) for five years. They then undertake a three-year vocational training program, which includes on-the-job experience plus classroom instruction at a Berufsschule (vocational school). Approximately one-fifth of the children who finish the Grundschule attend a Realschule (secondary modern school), where they take a six-year course emphasizing commercial and business subjects. After the Realschule these students may enter a two-year vocational college (Fachoberschule). About one in four students enters a Gymnasium (junior and senior school) after the Grundschule. The Gymnasium offers a rigorous nine-year program that culminates with examinations for the Abitur ...

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...n the fall of 1998 were unable to find


Preliminary placement figures for 1999 suggest the situation has

improved somewhat. At the end of August, one month before the

deadline for concluding apprenticeship agreements for the

1999-2000 vocational training year, 145,500 would-be apprentices

were still looking for positions - four percent fewer than at the same

point of 1998 - and 64,500 positions were still unfilled, 9.4 percent

more than a year earlier. September traditionally sees a flurry of

last-minute listings. But even taking those listings into account,

Federal Labor Agency President Bernhard Jagoda predicted in

early September there will be an overall shortfall of between 5,000

and 10,000 training positions for 1999-2000.
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