Full text: Schümer, Gundel: Basic data on the educational system of Berlin

As mentioned above, the principle of state control applies to the entire edu¬ 
cational system, that is, not only to schools, but also to institutions of higher ed¬ 
ucation. Correspondingly, the Länder maintain academies, colleges, and univer¬ 
sities, and protect them against political or ideological influences or constraints 
by granting them economic independence, giving them autonomy in certifying 
the students qualifications, and allowing them to nominate candidates for aca¬ 
demic positions which, as a rule, are approved by the Ministries of Culture and 
Education. Many university courses confer academic degrees in the strictest 
sense (e.g., MA, diploma, doctorate, etc.), while others are regulated by the state 
in the intention of ensuring adequate qualification of professionals such as 
teachers, lawyers, physicians, or pharmacists. The state examinations are carried 
out by professors who are either joined by state officials (for teachers and lawyers) 
or commissioned by the state as examiners (for medicine and pharmacy). On the 
one hand, the system of state examinations has gone a long way towards ensuring 
qualitative uniformity of the German universities and other institutions of high- 
er education. On the other hand, the state examinations have also certainly lim¬ 
ited the freedom of teaching and learning on which German universities have 
prided themselves since the beginning of the last century. 
Finally, state control applies not only to public but also to private educational 
institutions. The Grundgesetz explicitly guarantees the right to establish private 
schools including colleges, universities, etc. Accordingly, there are all sorts of pri¬ 
vate gymnastic schools and sports colleges, language, music and theater schools, 
vocational schools, and so on. Yet, regarding compulsory schooling, the estab¬ 
lishment of private schools is permitted only under certain conditions: (a) when 
the private schools are not inferior to the public schools in their educational 
aims, facilities, and the professional training of their teachers; (b) when they do 
not promote segregation of students according to the financial means of their 
parents; and (c) for primary schools, when there is a special pedagogical concept 
which is not represented in the existing public schools, and is deemed worthy of 
If all these conditions are fulfilled and the economic and legal position of the 
teaching personnel is assured, then private schools are licensed as substitute 
schools by the Ministries of Culture and Education, and have a right to financial 
support from the Länder governments. When their grades, examinations, and 
degrees become comparable to those of the public schools, the private substi- 
tute" schools are qualified as 'state-recognized," which is an important attribute 
in terms of their attractiveness to parents. 

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