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Three-tier school system

The secondary school system in Germany is divided into three type of schools: “Gymnasium”, “Realschule” and “Hauptschule”. While all children are educated together in primary school, this three-tiered school system distributes pupils to different schools depending on their academic performance in their first four years of school. Each school type leads to different degrees which open different possibilities for further education and employment. Only the “Abitur”, which is the diploma of the “Gymnasium” and the equivalent of the British A-Levels, enables pupils to directly apply to universities. This system has been critiqued for its premature selection process which influences children’s long-term and creates unequal opportunities. While less children are going to the school that is considered to be on the lowest academic level, the “Hauptschule”, the number of comprehensive schools is increasing. In comprehensive schools all children are taught together and have the possibility to earn all three different secondary school diplomas.