Post 4: Freistaat Bayern

On major difference that I found between German and French Education Ministries is in their responsiveness to information requests. While most German ministries and individuals responded quickly and efficiently to requests, French ministries and governmental sub-divisions have still not replied. However, while German education ministries generally responded quickly and promptly, one did not. Bavarian Culture Ministry representatives were surprisingly unhelpful and slow in their efforts to respond, for reasons unknown. Unfortunately, this resulted in relatively inefficient data collection, as I personally hunted through the ministry’s online materials for information on its citizenship education program. Fortunately, it was a German Ministry, so it was well organized.

Firstly, in Bavaria, the Government has published the Gesamtkonzept für die Politische Bildung an bayerischen Schulen (Overall Concept for Political Education in Bavarian Schools), which highlights the direction that the State Government expects the Culture Ministry and the education system to take. It clearly indicates “Political education is part of the Lifelong learning of the student” and incorporates large amounts of outside material into the governing documents.[1] Specifically, it refers to the Council of Europe Charter on Political Education and Human Rights Education as influencing the focuses of the education, along with Recommendations of the European Council on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning from December 18th, 2006. Specifically, the document expects that the political education which students receive should have the European Union shown in both a political and historical context, and how to behave in a European Context, treated co-equally to national and local contexts, as shown by:

“Sie lernen, ihre Kontrollfunktion als Bürgerin oder Bürger in der Demokratie wahrzunehmen, und wirken altersgemäß an politischen und gesellschaftlichen Diskursen mit, indem sie sich in der Schule und im Rahmen der jeweils bestehenden Möglichkeiten innerhalb der demokratischen Ordnung auf kommunaler, landes-, bundes- bzw. europaweiter Ebene aktiv beteiligen.

They learn to exercise their control role as citizens in democracies and participate in age-appropriate political and societal discourses by engaging in school and within the framework of existing opportunities within the democratic system and actively participate at municipal, state, federal or European level.”[2]


Second, it also indicates that political education itself would be divided into multiple sub-groups for comprehension. Specifically, the topic would be divided across “fächerkombinationen Sozialkunde, Geschichte/Sozialkunde, Geschichte/Politik/Geographie, Geschichte, Geographie sowie Wirtschaft und Recht bzw. Wirtschaftsgeographie, Wirtschafts- und Sozialkunde.” (subject combinations Social Studies, History / Social Studies, History / Politics / Geography, History, Geography and Economics and Law or Economic Geography, Economic and Social Studies”, depending upon the type of school and grade level it was in.[4] Further, within these classes, efforts were to be made to tie the education to the personal experiences of the students, and to send students to real institutions of the European Union. Finally, the Overall Concept document provides some examples and links for activities and exercises for teachers to provide their students with, some of which related to Europe and the European Union. The Overall Concept document points to Europe and the European Union being an important part of the education of the students, that should be considered alongside the student’s education about national and state functions.

Following this division of Political education, I examined the class curricula available on the ISB database to determine how the directives of the state government are distributed to teachers on the grade level. Specifically, I found that education about the European Union (relating to its institutions, history, and politics) were generally limited to secondary school education, with the sole exception being in the Geography courses, where the European Union is discussed as a geographic polity in Grade 6. Within Secondary Education, most of the education about the European Union is contained within the Courses of History, Social Studies (for Secondary Schools and the Gymnasium) and in the course of History / Politics / Geography (for Specialty Schools). Such curricular references to student competences include “the students…capture the objectives and key steps of European integration in order to understand their significance”[5] in History 10, with related contents to the competences being “European integration until the Lisbon Treaty 2000”.[6] Curricular references in Social Studies include expected student competences, stating “The students… using a recent example from European Policy, they derive the consequences of European Union regulations (e.g. legal regulations) for their own lives, recognizing the role of the EU as a supranational legislator.”[7] While these point to the EU being present in the educational expectations for students, there are some key areas that also point to the EU being relegated to the peripheries of the topics, as the EU is not mentioned when discussing constitutional issues (such as “The students use the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany and possibly the Constitution of the Free State of Bavaria to answer simple constitutional questions independently”[8]). Ultimately, this indicates that the curriculum does include the EU, but it is as an auxiliary topic, rather than within the core curriculum. Interesting, this does not appear to be the case for Special Schools, which, while including Citizenship education less overall, has the EU more often at the center of the curriculum. Specifically, its competency expectations include:

“The students …

  • outlines the development of the European Union from its founding to the present from different perspectives and discusses current issues….

Contents to the competences:

  • European Union: political and economic cooperation, current developments…

Competency expectations:

The students …

  • explain the importance of the European Union for disability policy in Germany.

Contents to the competences:

  • European Union: influence on social policy”[9]

Thus, generally, for students in Bavaria, the EU is not at the core of the traditional curriculum but is added alongside the traditional curriculum in terms of competence expectations.

As a final note, the State Government of Bavaria does provide a recurring magazine as a support mechanism for teachers in Bavaria. This magazine, Magazin Einsichten und Perspektiven, published through the Bavarian Office for Political Education, is published four times a year, free to teachers and students, and covers a variety of topics relating to politics and democracy. Interestingly, the European Union and its history appears relatively often in this magazine, as Europe is referred to at least once in most issues and is considered equally alongside more traditional topics in politics. Such examples include:


“In the issue 3/2016:…

  • The Bavarian Constitution in the case law of the Bavarian Constitutional Court
  • Mediator between East and West? | German EU, NATO and Russia policy since reunification
  • Fight for the White House | Episode 2: Candidates, Themes, Voters, Opportunities

In issue 2/2016:….

  • The British EU Referendum – Background and Framework
  • Brexit Online or the deceptive hope of youth – A project of Bavarian and British students

In issue 1/2019:….

  • Europe and nationalism
  • The nationalist rhetoric of the Italian government coalition between the online and offline worlds
  • How much nationalism does the European Union tolerate? In focus: Poland

In issue 1/2017:….

  • The economic effects of the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement on Germany: an assessment
  • The EU Free Trade Agreements with Canada (CETA) and the United States of America (TTIP) – from the point of view of the Bavarian state government”[11],

which points to a more equal consideration and presentation akin to national and local topics, and traditional international relations, within the magazine.

Overall, this data indicates that Bavaria does not appear to consider Europe co-equally alongside national and Länder political education, as Europe is often treated separately, and is not a mandated into the considerations on the Constitution and political activism. Europe is treated as an auxiliary topic, that is considered alongside the UN and international relations in most cases in Bavarian education, not as a quintessential part of the state apparatus that students need to deal with. While teachers are often given significant discretion as to what is taught in the classroom, within the confines of the mandated curricular competences, the State Government of Bavaria does not mandate that students learn about Europe as co-equal to the German or Bavarian Government, and as such it may not be consistent across Bavaria.


[1] Bavaria. Bayerisches Staatsministerium Für Unterricht Und Kultus. Statsinstitut Für Schulqualität Und Bildungsforschung. Gesamtkonzept Für Die Politische Bildung an Bayerischen Schulen. Edited by Corinna Storm. Muchen, BA: Bayerisches Staatsministerium Für Unterricht Und Kultus, 2017. P.7.

[2] IBID, p.9.

[3] IBID, p.1.

[4] IBID, p. 17.

[5] “Geschichte 10.” Lehrplan PLUS. Accessed July 15, 2019.

[6] IBID

[7] “Sozialkunde 10.” Lehrplan PLUS. Accessed July 16, 2019.

[8] IBID

[9] “Geschichte/Politik/Geographie M9.” Lehrplan PLUS. Accessed July 15, 2019.

[10] “Magazin Einsichten Und Perspektiven.” Bayerisches Staatsministerium Für Unterricht Und Kultus. Accessed July 15, 2019.

[11] IBID



  1. eclawrence says:

    Hey, thanks for sharing. I found this update interesting and I am excited to read your conclusions. I was surprised to see that the EU wasn’t a central theme in history type classes, at least in Bayern. In my high school, in the US, I remember teachers would only teach according to what would be on the test. Applying this to Germany, I looked at a few abitur preparation sites online to see what they mentioned about the EU. Supporting your conclusion that the EU isn’t a central theme, I found this mind map of topics to know for the history abitur ( Here there are bubbles for topics I would consider relatively unimportant in daily life, such as the 30 years war, but no bubble for the EU. On the other hand, another study resource I looked at did list the EU as one of the themes to study ( Anyway, you seem to be putting in good work with a much more scientific method than my poking around on the internet, so I am excited to see what you conclude. Additionally, I was interested to learn that the EU may not be a main theme in Bayrisch history classes.