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I am Frank, a freelance Java developer specialized in backend development from south western germany.

The sorry state of science in Germany

posted by fas on 2010-10-06 . Tagged as science, critic

Germans like to call their country "Das Land der Dichter und Denker" (~ the nation of poets and thinkers), supposedly because of all the great minds which came from Germany: Goethe, Einstein, Nietzsche, Gauss, just to name a few, which are well known for their work all over the planet. But is this not glory long past? Does the german school system still produce such great minds, which impacted their respective fields like hurricanes?
Not anymore it seems. The last of the great german geniuses has long been gone, and the new blood lacks minds of Max Planck's or Otto Hahn's format.
But this should hardly come to a surprise when looking at the institutions nowadays. Universities are seriously understaffed, Scientist have to spend lots of time gaining funds for their research, Students have to pay for visiting Universities since a couple of years and even the responsible Secretary of State Mrs. Schavan is not able to find projects which are worth funding so part of the german budget for sciences just went unused. (Source: heise.de (german))
Looking at the current initiatives which are taken by the Department to guarantuee excellence in the years to come, is equally disappointing: The so-called "science train" doesn't drive anymore, since nobody came and took a look at it. Another failed project is the "technical year". It's idea was to gave every german the opportunity to work one year in a technical environment, but only 31 applications were issued for 11,000 positions, so the project died.
So what can be done about the german people neglecting the sciences? Well in my Opinion these countermeasures would make sense:

  • Schooling has to be free, and always was free in Germany, up until a couple of years ago: Paying for school might not be possible for a part of our society. And since in Germany a kid's education depends highly on the income of it's parents, we should not do anything to worsen this situation.
  • Sources: Wikipedia (german) BpB (german)
  • Immigrants' kids have to be included more in the high level education in Germany: It seems Germany with it's 3 tiered school system together with a great number of immigrant kids creates school ghettos, where german kids visit the higher level schools while immigrated kids go to the lower level schools. With the demographic development in mind, we should do everything to get as much young people into high paying jobs, so we wont lose our standard of life in future
  • Sources: RiG, VASAB
  • Investment. Big Science often needs Big Money, but it is also very efficient in attracting new blood: Think about the Moonlanding and what kind of echo and interest it got in the public. or LHC or ITER
  • Having schools which sustain vivid relations with Universities, so that young kids have the possibility to get involved in the sciences from an early age on.

Tags: science, critic