Education in Germany
Since the restoration of German unity, the Federal Republic of Germany covers a total of some 357,000 km². In 2011, just less than 82 million people lived in Germany. With a population density of 229 inhabitants per km² in 2011, Germany is one of the most densely populated nations in Europe. But less than 15 million inhabitants were younger than 20. Since 1970, some 6.5 million more people have immigrated to Germany than emigrated from Germany.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, known as the Grundgesetz (Basic Law), was adopted in 1949. The Basic Law states that the Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and social federal state. A major characteristic of the federal state is that both the Federation and its constituent states, known as Länder, have the status of a state. One core element of this status is the so-called cultural sovereignty, i.e. the predominant responsibility of the Länder for education, science and culture. This element is at the heart of their sovereignty.
The Federal President (Bundespräsident) is the head of state. He is elected by the Federal Convention for a period of five years. The Bundestag is the parliamentary assembly representing the people of the Federal Republic of Germany. The members of the Bundestag are elected by direct, free and equal elections for a term of four years. The Bundesrat, the representative body of the 16 Länder, is also involved in legislation and federal administration as well as in issues of the European Union. The Bundesrat is composed of members of government in the Länder. Each of the Länder has between three and six votes depending on their population, although the votes of one Land cannot be split. The Federal Government is comprised of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. The strong position of the Federal Chancellor is based on his power to determine general policy guidelines.
In the Federal Republic of Germany responsibility for the education system is determined by the federal structure of the state. Under the Basic Law the exercise of governmental powers and the fulfilment of governmental responsibility is incumbent upon the individual Länder. The Basic Law contains a few fundamental provisions on questions of education, culture and science: thus for example it guarantees the freedom of art and scholarship, research and teaching, free choice of profession and the rights of parents. The entire school system is under the supervision of the state.
The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany is a consortium of the ministers or senators of the federal states responsible for education and schooling, institutes of higher education an research and cultural affairs. The federal states assume self-coordinating resposibility for the country as a whole. They ensure the necessary measure of commonality in educational, research and cultural issues of cross-state significance.