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South Africans in Germany

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School Information

The German School system is a bit different from that in South Africa.
Children have to decide very early on their future education choices and the school term starts in August/ September.

Germany has an extensive public school system, but there are also some private schools like Montessori, Waldorf and Jena. You can find international schools in most big cities.
Homeschooling is not allowed in Germany and School uniforms are not required in public schools

A South African Grade 12 could be equal to a German Abitur, depending on your subjects and marks (Note) and possibly the Bundesland. At a minimum it should be equivalent to a Realschulabschluss/mittlere Reife
To find out if your South African qualification allows you to study at a German University, enter your details on the Anabin Website

Finding a school

Germany's education system

Here is a pdf file with an overview of the school system in Bavaria. This gives you a good idea about the school system and most states work on the same principles

Education System

Primary SchoolGrundschule
Grades 1 to 4
Secondary SchoolWeiterführende Schulen
General school (“Hauptschule”) is a secondary school in Germany and Austria, starting after 4 years of elementary schooling, which offers Lower Secondary Education (Level 2) according to the International Standard Classification of EducationHauptschule (secondary general school for grades 5 through 9 or 10)
Students are eligible for vocational training afterwards, or can transfer to the Sekundarstufe II/Oberstufe at a Gymnasium or Gesamtschule
General School – PracticalRealschule (more practical secondary school for grades 5 through 10)
Students are eligible for vocational training afterwards, or can transfer to the Sekundarstufe II/Oberstufe at a Gymnasium or Gesamtschule. Another option is a FOS (Fachobeschule) There they can complete 11,12 and 13. You can enroll for Engineering at a Hochschule (University of Applied sciences) with FOS and Grade 12
General School – AcademicGymnasium (more academic secondary school for grades 5 through 12 or 13). Students receive an Abitur after successful completion and it entitles them to go to a University. Some degrees like Engineering, require up to grade 13.
Students can also opt to do vocational training.
General School – ComprehensiveGesamtschule (comprehensive school for grades 5 through 12 or 13)
Combines the Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium and offers an alternative to the tripartite school system

Fun Facts

  • On a child’s first day of school, they take along “Schultüte”, which is a decorated paper cone filled with sweets and small presents
  • Depending on the Federal State, most children start school in August/September of the year that they turn 6 years old
  •  For young school children, having a trendy backpack is more important than the clothes they wear
  • Every student is obliged to attend classes and other school events. You therefore cannot take your child out of school before the term ends. They must attend school for the whole term, with only certain exemptions like ill-health, participation in sports competitions, or an important personal reason like the marriage of siblings, death in the family or serious illness in the family. Under certain circumstances, you can apply for special leave (Beurlaubung), for example, to return to your country of origin for a special event
  • School hours are from between 7:30 and 8:15 a.m. and can end between 12 noon and 1:30 p.m
  • Shcool marks are called “Noten”
  • A School hour is usually 45 minutes long
  • Sport are played outside of school and schools do not have sports fields
  • At the end of an Abitur, most schools have Abiball which is like a Matric farewell

Information on the Web

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