Every child in Thuringia is guaranteed care and education in a child day care institution from the age of one until they finish primary school. According to their age, the children can attend day care centres, kindergarten or the after-school care (Hort).
The youngest children in Thuringia are currently cared for in 1,300 child day care centres with about 98,000 children. Also, there are 1,000 publicly funded private day cares where children can stay throughout the day. From the age of two, children can attend kindergarten. While the children attend primary school, after-school care supports and complements the home and school environments. Additionally, many elementary schools offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities and sports.
Primary school is the basis of general education in Thuringia. Children attend primary school from the age of six for four years. At the end of primary school, parents can choose between various types of secondary schools.
Most secondary school children in Thuringia attend the Regelschule (non-academic or mid-level secondary school). It offers a good general education in the compulsory subjects and also takes into account individual interests and offers practical training during elective subjects.
Since 2009, children can also attend a Gesamtschule, where all school-leaving qualifications can be taken and where children learn together until they are in eighth grade. Afterwards, the pupils study separately according to their desired school-leaving qualification.
Children may attend a Gymnasium from grade five on after taking an entrance exam or if their grades are good enough. In principle, it is possible to change from a Regelschule to a Gymnasium during the school career, if grades are good enough. A Gymnasium provides its pupils with an extended general education which is required for studying at a university. After taking the leaving qualification after grade 10, young people can attend a higher level secondary school and obtain their general school-leaving certificate (Abitur). There are also special courses or special Gymnasia with connected boarding schools which offer a specific profile, i.e. science and mathematics, music, sports or languages.
After the ninth grade children receive their Hauptschule school-leaving qualification. If the pupils also pass a national exam, the qualification is called Qualifizierender Hauptschulabschluss (eligible Hauptschule school-leaving qualification). The Realschule school-leaving qualification after grade 10 is always connected with a national examination. The Gymnasium ends with written and oral exams after which the pupils receive the general school-leaving certificate (Abitur).
The Thüringenkolleg in Weimar and the Ilmenaukolleg in Ilmenau offer young adults (aged 19 and older) the possibility to get their general school-leaving certificate through a “second chance” education. To attend the Kolleg students must have a Realschule school-leaving qualification and a complete vocational training, or, alternatively, three years of work experience. Additionally, they have to pass an aptitude test.
There are also vocational training schools in Thuringia which open many different educational and professional doors for young people. Germany offers a special kind of vocational training – the dual vocational training. The theoretical part of this education takes place at a vocational school, the practical training at a training company. Other types of vocational training schools include the specialised vocational school, the higher vocational school, the secondary technical school, the technical college, etc. They provide a wide range of opportunities to obtain vocational qualifications, technical school certificates required for university entrance, or regular secondary school qualifications.
The Thuringia International School – Weimar (ThIS) is a private international school and - among others - member of the Association of German International Schools. It offers its German and international pupils a broad education combining the best American, British and German educational elements. This means, it provides an international curriculum, English as a teaching language, internationally experienced and trained, multicultural teachers, small classes and lessons all day. Graduating from the ThIS, the pupils receive an internationally recognised diploma equivalent to the German Abitur.
It is possible to have your foreign school qualifications and certificates recognised. The Thuringian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport can help you with that. If you want to have your school qualifications recognised to apply at a university, you can contact the relevant university directly.
Adults can continue their education at adult education centres, for example at the Volkshochschule or other organisations. There are literacy courses, German language classes for beginners and advanced students, integration courses (language and orientation courses), work-oriented language classes (ESF-BAMF courses) as well as courses for the completion of school qualifications. Additionally, there are language classes for young adults who intend to start a vocational training.