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Recommendations for Merging the Two Education Systems (September 26, 1990)

A joint GDR-FRG commission of ministers of education and cultural affairs recommended priorities in the democratic reform of East German education and research. Their recommendations envisioned the transfer of established Western structures onto the new federal states.

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Joint Education Commission
Results of the Third and Final Session of September 26, 1990

1. The Joint Education Commission convened on September 26, 1990, in the office of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Federal States [Kultusministerkonferenz or KMK], for its third and final session. Prof. Hans Joachim Meyer, Minister for Education and Science, led the delegation from the German Democratic Republic; Minister Marianne Tidick, president of the KMK, led the delegation from the Federal Republic of Germany, and Undersecretary Fritz Schaumann represented the Federal Ministry for Education and Science.

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2. The Education Commission agreed that the education system must make a substantial contribution to the political, economic, and social modernization process in the five new federal states and to the unification process in general. The Commission determined that several essential steps have already been taken on the path to shaping a new education system and that it will be a task of the newly founded federal states to advance this process in the future. From the outset, the federal and state governments of the Federal Republic have supported the reform efforts of the GDR, both financially and with expertise. In addition, numerous private relief measures have come out of the Federal Republic of Germany. State and private initiatives have quickly led to intensive cooperation at all levels and in all areas of education and research, enabling contact between all the parties involved.

After unification, one primary aim is to continue merging the two education systems, which developed under different social conditions. The prerequisites for this have been satisfied by the GDR law on the establishment of federal states and the Unification Treaty. When the GDR accedes to the Federal Republic, the new federal states will be subject to the Basic Law. With that, they will largely assume responsibility for the task of organizing their respective educational, scientific, and cultural affairs.

In view of the starting position of the new federal states, very different structures will more or less continue to exist in these states for a transitional period. In the interest of the citizens, it is important to achieve the necessary degree of uniformity as soon as possible.

Over the coming months and years, the ongoing merger of the two education systems will be an important joint task for the KMK and for the Federal-State Commission for Educational Planning and Research Promotion [Bund-Länder-Kommission für Bildungsplanung und Forschungsförderung or BLK]. The urgently needed modernization of the education system of the five new federal states will require the involvement of the federal government and the federal states, both financially and in terms of planning.

Moreover, it will be important for schools, training centers, universities, and research facilities in the five new federal states to be incorporated as quickly as possible into the network of European international exchange and cooperation programs and into other networks as well.

3. In the area of general education, the Education Commission approved recommendations on restructuring the education system for general education in the new federal states. The commission noted that the principle of granting cultural autonomy to the federal states will be of fundamental importance as the educational spheres are merged. In light of their federal rights and duties in the area of schooling, the states see it as their ongoing task to ensure that their education policy decisions guarantee both the necessary standardization and equal opportunity. The development of a joint and comparable basic structure for the school system must also satisfy the essential prerequisite of freedom of movement in the education system. According to Article 37 of the Unification Treaty, the basis for this is the Hamburg Agreement of the federal states on the standardization of the school systems, as well as other relevant agreements made by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs.

Certain regulations in school organization, such as the annual schedule and school vacations, as well as the foreign language requirement for the receipt of a secondary school leaving certificate and for qualification for university study should be standardized by the 1991-92 school year.

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