by Walter Müller, derStandard (June 25, 2013)
*Original article in German
On average, Austrian families pay more than 600 euros per year in tuition. Extrapolated from the data of 2,901 surveyed parents, a total of 118 million euros are paid for tutoring. About half of surveyed parents feel “very strong” or at least “noticeable” financial stress caused by the cost of tuition. This relates specifically to socially and financially disadvantaged households, if paid tuition is affordable at all. But the high tuition costs are only part of the problem. More than three-quarters of the respondents answered that they need to learn regularly with their children at home. Six out of ten parents do generally find it hard to help the children with their homework and check their knowledge on tests or homework. Education expert Bernd Schilcher explains that the issue of tuition is “basically a scandal.” The reason why high sums need to be raised by the families for private tuition in Austria lies, according Schilcher in the “too-short school days.” Austrian students spend 180 days a year, which Schilcher believes is not enough time. He believes that a new school system with instruction and exercises in the afternoon would cut the need for tutoring in half.
For more information:
Survey: Luxury Private Tutoring
Bernadette Bayrhammer, Die Presse (May 20th, 2013)
The results of this year’s Viennese reading tests are similar to those of previous years – with a little bit of hope. Approximately one in five 10-to 14-year-old student is a poor reader. In elementary school, the group of pupils at risk has declined by two percentage points, and remained about the same size at the academic secondary school and lower secondary school. About 40 percent of students in grade 4 and grade 8 are good readers.
For the test, 15,000 children fourth graders and 16,000 eighth graders were tested the third time. In addition, students who had performed poorly in elementary school in 2012 were tested, and these students provide positive messages. Students who were particularly poor readers in the previous year and were promoted, did well this year: 60 percent reached a higher reading level, and about four percent are now even considered strong readers. For this reason, there is hope that special promotion can work.
For more information:
Educational Standards first tested in Primary School
Successful school trajectories of immigrant students
Perchinig, B. Institute for Research on Qualifications and Training of the Austrian Economy (14 June 2012)
The Institute for Research on Qualifications and Training of the Austrian Economy conducted a study exploring the factors that contribute to successful school trajectories for immigrant students. 9 experts were interviewed and 5 group discussions with 34 immigrant students were conducted. The experts and students pointed to the fact that the family is the most important resource for school success, although parents often do not know the inner workings of the Austrian school system. For instance, immigrant families mostly cannot understand that the Austrian education system presupposes the contribution and participation of parents. Furthermore, the interviews and discussions revealed that a liberal educational style is more supportive than an authoritative one and that male students saw high truancy as the first step in dropping out of school. In general, though, students highly identified themselves with Austria and considered their chances and possibilities in the country as very good. To improve immigrant education, the study’s author recommends to more work with parents, individual coaching with students, measures against school absenteeism, and gender-sensitive pedagogy.
Multilingualism as a resource at school
Leonhartsberger, S. Orf
(28 June 2012)
24 percent of Austrian students in primary school have a first language other than German. In Vienna, an even greater number (53 percent) have a first language other than German. Most of these students speak Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, Turkish, Albanian, Chechen, Russian, or Arabic. Despite the increase in German as a second language students, a recent study reveals that teachers still consider the German language as their main focus in class. According to Barbara Buchholz, author of the study, only 42 percent of the teachers said that they think that multilingual education is reasonable and necessary. However, teachers are left alone with the multilingual challenge in class and they have never learned how to deal with 15 languages in one classroom, says linguist Hans-Jürgen Krumm. “The majority [of teachers] cannot cope,” according to Krumm. In addition, others criticize the short period in which students learn in their native language, with the primary focus instead being on German as a second language.
Low qualified people are the pariahs of the knowledge society
Ziegler, E. Science.Orf (11 June 2012)
According to Manfred Krenn, researcher at the Working Life Research Center in Vienna, people who are deemed unemployable stay on the lowest step of a new caste system that builds on education titles and grades. His recent study argues that competition on the job market and pressure for further education and advanced training lead to a downward spiral for people “low qualified people.” Furthermore, he found that less educated people have less access to education programs and their employers do not encourage them to pursue further education. (In 2009, for example, 5.6% of less educated individuals attended an educational program, whereas 42% of academics participated in further education programs). Krenn finds fault in middle- and upper-class notions of knowledge determining what’s tested. To remedy this, according to Krenn, education programs should refer more to the socio-economic criteria of the people concerned. Additionally, schools should be aware that students from underprivileged families start their school career under different conditions than their wealthier peers and that a need for cultural accommodation exists.
Catching up on compulsory school graduation will be made easier for adults
(in German)Der Standard
(12 June 2012)
Almost 280,000 Austrians between 15 and 64 years old have not graduated from compulsory school, and every year 3,500 to 5,000 adolescents leave school without graduating. The council of ministers therefore will enact a law that provides €54.6 million (maximum €6,600 per person) to open new possibilities on the job market for these individuals. Courses will prepare people for exams in the subjects German, English, mathematics and vocational knowledge. Additionally, people will have to take two exams from the following fields for their compulsory school equivalencies: “creativity and design,” “health and social work,” “nature and technics,” and an additional language.
Kindergarten teachers protest against bad working conditions (in German)
Der Standard (11 June 2012)
On Monday, June 11, kindergarten teachers demonstrated against their working conditions. They pointed to the problem of different closing times within federal states, large teacher-student ratios, inadequate salaries, small classrooms, and too little time for preparation, extracurricular work and time with parents as policies that need to be addressed. Of particular note was how large class sizes create a problem in inclusive teaching settings. Moreover, Maria Zeilinger, a member of the occupation group for early childhood educators, says that individual learning cannot be provided under current group conditions.
Language training program to be extended
The Ministry of Education (25 May 2012)
Since the 2006-2007 school year, students with a first language other than German have participated in language training courses at school. These courses have been offered to groups of more than eight (8) students for eleven (11) hours per week. For this purpose, the Government has provided 440 posts, equivalent to 9,500 hours of work and costing €23.9 million (approx. $30 million). Because evaluations have indicated the program’s positive impact, the Austrian government will invest a further €47.8 million (approx. $60 million) in the project up to 2014.
Integrative vocational education has positive impact
Dornmayr, H. Institut für Bildungsforschung der Wirtschaft (Institute for Research on Qualifications and Training of the Austrian Economy) (April 2012)
In 2003, the Austrian Government introduced a measure called “integrative vocational education” to allow students with disabilities or any other kind of disadvantage to choose adapted forms of apprenticeships. A recent study shows that the measure is having a positive impact for the students concerned and is promoting their integration into the job market. According to the report, 52% of students remained in their jobs following their integrative vocational education, and a further 10% changed to another apprenticeship. Although 22% of students are unemployed and 8% are engaged in job center skills development, 23% of the drop-outs found a new integrative apprenticeship opportunity shortly after dropping out. The study also reveals that business apprenticeships have been more effective than inter-company vocational training.