By Sara Giorgetti
The fifteenth State Student Council of Baden-Württemberg (LSBR) has recently expressed itself in a document that is a clear indication of the strong desire for change and modernisation of the school system felt by German students: the issues brought to public attention by the young people of the student representation range from the shortage of teaching staff to the opening up towards a digital, multicultural and inclusive school that adequately prepares girls and boys for the new challenges of the world of work. The students, however, find little attention in school curricula to civic education: in their view, adequate preparation on the constitution and democratic values is not provided, and it would therefore be appropriate to devote a few hours of curricular teaching to civic education, so as to make young people aware citizens and prepared to exercise their rights in a democratic state. But where would these teaching hours come from? The students’ proposal is to reduce the hours dedicated to religious instruction (currently two a week), in favour of those devoted to ethical and democratic education.
The following is a brief excerpt of the proposal formulated by the students’ representatives:
“Längerfristig fordert der LSBR zudem, die Gesamtkontingente für das Fach Religion in der Sekundarstufe I zugunsten der politischen Bildung zu verringern, denn nur so kann garantiert werden, dass die Schülerschaft in Zeiten der globalen Umbrüche wahrhaft den Herausforderungen gewachsen ist, ohne dass dies negative Auswirkungen auf die Stundenpläne der Schülerinnen hätte”.
The statement was variously accepted and interpreted by the different souls of society. While on the one hand the Central Council of the Confessions (Zentralrat der Konfessions Freien) approved and relaunched the document signed by the students, supporting their right to a public and secular education, on the other hand Baden-Württemberg’s prime minister, Winfried Kretschmann, who represents the Catholic and conservative wing of the Green party, strongly rejected the proposal, because religious instruction in Germany is the only school subject that has a constitutional guarantee. In fact, within the German Constitution, it is expressly indicated in Article 7.3 as a curricular subject to be offered in all State schools: “Der Religionsunterricht ist in den öffentlichen Schulen mit Ausnahme der bekenntnisfreien Schulen ordentliches Lehrfach” (“Religious education is an ordinary subject in State schools, with the exception of non-confessional schools”).
Representatives of the Catholic Church also spoke out against the students’ proposal, arguing that there is no incompatibility between religious instruction and political education, and that there is therefore no valid reason for reducing the hours devoted to religious instruction. The head of the religious office in Stuttgart, Pastor Gerhard Neudecker, declared that the student council with its request to reduce religious instruction hours in favour of civic education is creating a contradiction that in reality has no reason to exist, since religious instruction is also aimed at the moral growth of students and the study of one subject does not exclude the other.
To read the students’ declaration:
To read the article of the Constitution on religious instruction at schools:
For more information: