Education International
Education International

Germany: inclusion in schools on the rise, but still facing challenges

published 7 September 2015 updated 24 September 2015

Students in Germany are increasingly sharing the same classroom regardless of their disabilities, says a new study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, but in some schools and regions, inclusion is still an out-of-reach target.

The recently published study by the German foundation Bertelsmann on inclusion in German schools shows that primary schools and nurseries have implemented the inclusion agreement more than other education institutions. According to its figures, the inclusion rate has increased by over 70 percent in the five years up to the 2013/2014 school year. Now, more than 31 percent of students who live with a disability attend a regular school. This is the highest rate since the entry into force of the UN Convention in question.

Primary schools more advanced than secondary schools

Nevertheless, according to the study the situation for children and young people with disabilities has not improved consistently enough. The percentage of students in special-needs schools hardly went down. In addition, the chances of inclusion differ greatly nationwide and also depend on the type of school attended.

In secondary education inclusion is still poorly implemented. "Inclusion in Germany is making progress," says Jörg Dräger, director of the Bertelsmann Foundation, "but the goal of everyone learning together is still a long way off.

Germany remains inconsistent

This inequality is also reflected regionally. In Bremen, the inclusion rate in regular schools is at 69%, making it a front-runner in Germany. In Hessen, it is less than 22%. "In terms of inclusion, Germany is like a patchwork quilt," said Dräger.

But not everything can be measured with quantitative data, highlights the German Teachers’ Union GEW in a press statement issued in Bremen. “Real inclusion has to rely on adequate investment, quality teachers and quality environments”, says Christian Gloede, the union’s spokesperson in the praised region. He has also noted that the report does not only show advances, but a need for improvement in many areas. “True progress will only be made when the inclusion rate is equally high in vocational training and in the working world, leading to the active inclusion of all in society”.