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Law on the Socialist Development of the School System in the German Democratic Republic (December 2, 1959)

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Course of education and obligatory school attendance in the German Democratic Republic

§ 5
(1) The Secondary School has
one lower level (grades 1 to 4)
one upper level (grades 5 to 10)

(2) The Secondary School creates the foundation for the vocational training and for all higher educational institutions. It is to convey to the students a high general education based on the polytechnical education and ensure knowledge of the foundations of science, technology, and culture.

§ 6
The path from the Secondary School via vocational training is the chief path for developing the next generation of the technical colleges and universities. The following paths exist for higher education:

1. Completion of the Secondary School and acquisition of skilled vocational training. A vocational training of at least two years qualifies an applicant for admission to a technical college. It is necessary to create opportunities whereby attendance at a vocational school and simultaneous vocational training allows for the acquisition of the Abitur, which qualifies a student for admission to a university or college.

2. Completion of the Secondary School and
a) attendance of an enterprise secondary school [Betriebsoberschule] (graduation with Abitur) or
b) attendance of an evening secondary school [Abendoberschule] (graduation with Abitur) or
c) participation in a training course in preparation for a special Abitur exam.
Via this path it is also possible to qualify for admission to a professional school or college or university. Participation in the higher Secondary School and training courses takes place without interrupting career activity. Participation must also be opened to young workers who finished the elementary or middle school before the introduction of the Secondary School.

3. Attendance at Workers’ and Farmers’ Institutes in preparation for direct study at a university or college by young workers with completed vocational training, especially by young people who completed the elementary or middle school before the introduction of the Secondary School.

§ 7
(1) In addition to the Secondary School there is a twelve-grade, general education polytechnical secondary school, hereafter referred to as the expanded secondary school.

(2) The expanded secondary school with a scientific, modern language or classical language track leads to qualification for university study. Through the close connection of classroom teaching and production, it is to prepare students for their vocation or for study at a professional school, college, or university. In the expanded secondary school, students are to be taught, on the basis of the polytechnical education, the latest scientific knowledge, especially in the natural sciences.

(3) The path from the expanded secondary school to the college or university runs, after graduation (Abitur), through a practical vocational year under the direction of the college or university.

§ 8
(1) After the establishment of the secondary school for all children in the various districts and counties, universal obligatory school attendance exists for the area of the respective districts and counties in the sense of § 1, Sec. 1, followed – unless students attend the expanded secondary school – by an obligatory vocational training of at least two years.

(2) Obligatory school attendance exists, beginning at age seven, for all children whose legal guardians have their residence or permanent domicile in the German Democratic Republic; it must be fulfilled in the state-run schools of the German Democratic Republic.

(3) Obligatory schooling extends to the regular attendance of classroom instruction in accordance with the curriculum, participation in school events declared obligatory by the Ministry of National Education, and adherence to the school code.

(4) Guardians must see to it that the child subject to obligatory schooling meets its obligation.

(5) Physically or mentally handicapped students subject to obligatory schooling fulfill their obligation in the state-run special schools prescribed for them.

Source: Gesetzblatt der DDR [Law Gazette of the GDR] 1959, II, p. 859 ff; reprinted in Christoph Kleßmann, ed., Zwei Staaten, eine Nation. Deutsche Geschichte 1955-1970 [Two States, One Nation. German History 1955-1970]. Göttingen, 1988, pp. 568-70.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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