Education in Hamburg

Education in Hamburg
Ministry of Schools and Vocational Training
(Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung)
Ministry of Science and Research
(Behörde für Wissenschaft und Forschung)
State Minister
for Schools and Vocational Training
State Minister
of Science and Research
Ties Rabe

Dr. Dorothee Stapelfeldt
General details
Primary languages German
System type State
Total 167,714 (2007) primary and secondary school

Education in Hamburg covers the whole spectrum from kindergarten, primary education, secondary education, and higher education in Hamburg. The German states are primarily responsible for the educational system in Germany, and therefore the Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung (State Ministry of Schools and Vocational training) is the administrative agency in Hamburg. The Behörde für Wissenschaft und Forschung (State Ministry of Science and Research) has the oversight for universities and colleges.

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, one of the six educational institutes of UNESCO, is located in Hamburg.[1]


Gesamtschule Eppendorf, a Hamburg comprehensive school

Per student no other State of Germany spends more money on education than Hamburg. Yet at the Programme for International Student Assessment the students did very poorly and were outperformed by 14 other States of Germany. Only the State of Bremen did worse than Hamburg.[2] One in two Hamburg children comes from an immigrant family,[2] and in 2007, 20,4 percent of all Hamburg children were on welfare.[3] So Hamburg faces more challenges than many other States of Germany.

In 2008 several types of secondary schools existed in Hamburg. The most common types were Hauptschulen, Realschulen, Gymnasien (prep schools) and Gesamtschulen (comprehensive schools). Kids graduated from primary schools after 4th grade and were allowed to apply for any of those schools. The choice which school to apply for was made by the parents.[4]

In October 2009, the Hamburg Parliament voted for an act to change this system with the start of the educational year 2010/11. The Grundschuleprimary school of 4 years education from the age of 6 to 10would be changed into a Primärschule (lit. primary school), lasting 6 years. This would be followed by a so-called location or quarter school (German: Stadtteilschule) with certificates, like the Abitur after 13 years of education. The Gymnasium will offer the Abitur after 12 years. Pupils could enter the Stadteilschule or the Gymnasium. Parents would no longer be allowed to choose if their child should apply for a Gymnasium. Only those children whose primary school teachers state that the child would make a successful transition into a Gymnasium would be allowed to apply. The act also states that no more than 25 pupils are allowed in classes of the primary school, 20 in so-called difficult quarters, and not more than 28 in a Gymnasium class. This decision was criticized by factions of the SPD and The Left.[5]

Many people were not pleased by this educational reform. Some were dismayed that the reform did not do away with Gymnasien they saw as a breeding ground of privilege. It has been noted that most of the children attending a Gymnasium came from upper-middle-class families and that Gymnasien often failed to enroll minority youngsters. A movement called Eine Schule für alle (One school for everyone) was formed.[6] The movement attempted to collect enough signatures to force a referendum, but fell short of the required number to do so.[7] Many parents of those attending a Realschule were dismayed that this type of school was abolished. Another group of parents was dismayed that the decision of whether their kids should apply for a Gymnasium was no longer left to the parents. They also were concerned about the fact that Gymnasien would no longer be allowed to enroll students after fourth grade, but had to wait until they graduated from sixth grade. These would mean Gymnasien would get two fewer years to impart Latin and Ancient Greek. It was also feared that if Gymnasien would not be able to enroll students as young as ten years, it would become difficult for them to instill school spirit and love for learning in the students. It was also claimed that the academically most promising kids were denied an adequate education if they were not allowed to enroll in a Gymnasium after four years of schooling. A movement called Wir wollen lernen! (We want to learn!) was formed. It collected 184.500 signatures in November, three times the number needed to force a referendum.[8]

An attempt by the city government of Hamburg to have all pupils attend the same school until 7th grade was, however, rejected [9] by 276,304 votes to 218,065[10] German television showed that the voter participation was higher in the wealthy neighbourhoods than in the poor ones. The opinion was put forward that the referendum to reject the school reforms was only successful because of this.[11] In fact, although the proposal in Hamburg was to have all children in a single school system two years longer in order to treat everyone equally for a longer time, German TV found a number of wealthy parents willing to make statements to TV cameras[12] that they considered such equal treatment unfair: "you don't have to disadvantage the socially advantaged so that the disadvantaged benefit". In other words, putting everyone in the same school is considered unfair by many of the wealthy in Germany.

General education

Hansa-Gymnasium Hamburg in the Bergedorf borough built 1912 to 1914 by Fritz Schumacher.

Besides regular German schools and kindergarten, an International School of Hamburg and a French school exist.[13][14] Both offer an education in the respective language from kindergarten to secondary school. The International School Hamburg provides the International Baccalaureate, the French school the French baccalauréat and the AbiBac (French-German baccalaureate).

In 2007, there were 1,039 day-care centers for children, 244 primary schools, and (in 2006) 195 secondary schools, with a total of 167,714 pupils.[15] As of 2009 several Hamburg schools were Wilhelm-Gymnasium (Hamburg), Christianeum Hamburg, Friedrich-Ebert-Gymnasium, Gymnasium Farmsen, and Helene-Lange-Gymnasium. Hamburg's oldest school is the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums.

Higher education

As of 2012/2013, 19 universities and colleges were located in Hamburg with about 90,000 university students, including 10,000 international students.


Universities in Hamburg are:


There are a number of colleges without university status (see Fachhochschule) in Hamburg as well:

There are also a number of colleges below the Fachhochschule level.

Research institutions


  1. "UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning Welcome". Retrieved 2009-09-13.
  2. 1 2 "Schulreform: Hamburg fährt ab 2009 zweigleisig". Focus. April 18th 2007
  3. Kirbach, Roland (2007-08-08). "Armutszeugnis für Hamburg" [Confession of failure for Hamburg (Note: Zeugnis is in German also a certificate, report card, or school report)] (in German). Die Zeit. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
  4. Gall, Insa (2009-11-22). "Einigung im Schulstreit wird schwierig" [Settlement in argument about schools become difficult] (in German). Die Welt. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
  5. "Hamburgs Schüler müssen künftig zur Primarschule gehen" [Hamburg puplis need to go to the Primärschule in the future] (in German). Hamburger Abendblatt. 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2009-10-12.
  6. Eine Schule für alle
  7. ""Eine Schule für alle" gescheitert" [One school for everybody failed] (in German). Der Spiegel. 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  8. Wir wollen lernen
  10. "Referendum voters reject Hamburg school reforms". The Local – News. The Local Europe. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  13. "International School Hamburg". Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  14. "Lycée Français de Hambourg". Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  15. Residents registration office, source: Statistical Office Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein Statistisches Amt für Hamburg und Schleswig-Holstein, official website (German)

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