Education in Austria. Education for children in age 6-15 is an obligation in Austria.
A quite complicated system ( number of different types of schools and possibilities of their combining ) may confuse foreign residents of Austria. Since many years the country is facing a problem because many children are incapable to begin education and the main reason is lack of knowledge of the German language. That’s why has been made some simplifications and changes in general rules to support immigration and children’ better start and development.
For several years now, public and private kindergartens are free of charge (usually it’s only necessary to pay for food, or extra – curricula activities in private kindergartens). Usual fees in private kindergartens are bailed out to the amount 250€.
Last year of a kindergarten for a five year old children is obligatory (this applies to children who have completed five years before 1 September; the same way is determined readiness for the obligatory education). In short, children that were born before 1 September, are attending the first class of a basic school as 6 year old, and if they were born after 1 September, they may begin the first class one year later, this is a decision of parents and tests that are provided by leadership and teachers of a primary school.
The vorschulklassen is a new option introduced in primary schools, it’s for the children which are already under the educational obligation but they’re not linguistically, physically or socially ready to attend the first class.
Volksschule (primary school) – pupils in Austria are required to complete four years of that school. After its completion, depending on a certificate (grades 1 and 2 allow to start learning at AHS) the child together with parents are choosing the right type of a school:
1. APS- (Allgemein bildende Pflichtschulen)
– die Hauptschule (HS) – takes 4 years; general teaching with focus on a choice of a profession in the last two years
-die Kooperative Mittelschule (KMS), a new model of teaching, with focus on special abilities and interests of students, probably a higher level than in the HS, gifted students have an option to visit higher learning institutions like AHS
2. AHS (Allgemein bildenden höheren Schulen), also known as gymnasium, takes 8 years and is divided into two parts: unterstufe (class 1-4 ) and oberstufe (class 5-8 ). Some gymnasiums provide general education, others have specific focus, three traditional branches are:
– Gymnasium (BG) – humanities education (specializing in classical languages, such as Latin and Greek; from 5th and 6th class an additional language)
– Realgymnasium – mathematical-scientific education
– Wirtschaftskundliches Realgymnasium – economical and social-scientific education (+psychology and philosophy)
Students receive the “Matura”, an university admissions certificate, after final exams.
After the first part of gymnasium (4 years), it’s possible to move to the BHS School (Berufsbildende Höhere Schulen). This option allows for a vocational training in various technical schools, while preparing for the Matura.
Some important information about education in Austria and its forms can be found also in guidebooks Wiener schulführer that children receive in the fourth class of a primary school, or at: www.wien.at