Citizens' Forum on G8/G9 in Baden-Württemberg

14. June 2023
knipseline /

The government of the German state of Baden-Württemberg is convening a citizens' forum on the topic of G8/G9 after the summer break in 2023. The forum will intensively debate how long general secondary schools in Baden-Württemberg should last in the future.

"We see this as an opportunity to put the issue on a broader footing and to look at it from different angles. Because at the moment the debate is being conducted in a very narrow way," said Minister President Winfried Kretschmann. "We are choosing this path of listening policy because we have had extensive and good experience with citizen participation and citizen forums in recent years: they objectify a debate and often bring new arguments to the table that have not been considered before."

Preparations with experts, stakeholders and citizens

At a kick-off event on 17 July 2023, the first question was which topics the later citizens' forum participants should discuss and which experts should provide them with information. A good 60 associations and interest groups were invited, including pupils, parents, teachers and headmasters - but also churches, trade unions, business associations and state parliamentary groups. Among other things, it was about the mental health of the pupils, the pressure on their families and the investments in school rooms and teachers that would be necessary for a return to G9. All citizens can also get involved and join in the discussion on the state government's participation portal.

On a so-called topic map, 14 topic areas with dozens of sub-items are collected, which the randomly selected citizens are to work through. In addition, they can add further topics to their agenda if they are missing something.

Online participation for all interested parties

On 27 July 2023, State Councillor Barbara Bosch gave the starting signal for the second phase in the participation process for the duration of the "G8/G9" general secondary school. All interested parties can participate on the state's participation portal until 22 September 2023.

The actual citizens' forum will then start after the summer holidays in 2023 and will consist of 40 to 60 randomly selected citizens. Since the length of the general education Gymnasium has an impact on other types of schools and ultimately the entire school system, these random citizens will also not only be people with Abitur, but will represent all school-leaving qualifications. At the beginning of September, the state government invited 6,003 randomly selected citizens from Baden-Württemberg to participate in the citizens' forum.

Information, discussion, recommendations

At the beginning of the citizens' forum, there will be an extensive information phase. In several sessions, the participants will be able to get a broad picture of the topic in a hearing. For this purpose, experts, associations and affected persons will present their expertise and arguments. This also applies to the initiative that is currently collecting signatures for a popular initiative "G 9 now! BW" and aims to have the issue discussed in the state parliament. Afterwards, the information will be processed and discussed by the forum participants in several sessions. In the last step, they will then work out joint recommendations.

"After that, we will make a decision on the future duration of the general secondary school. The random citizens will advise and recommend. In the end, the government and parliament will decide - as provided for in the constitution. One thing is clear: as a state government, we are going into the participation process with an open mind. Because in democracy, in the end, we only have arguments - and as a government, we will be guided by them," Kretschmann explained.

G8 and G9 in Baden-Württemberg

In Baden-Württemberg, the general secondary school currently lasts eight years ("G8"). In contrast, the Abitur can be obtained in nine years ("G9") at 44 model schools and at community schools with a Gymnasium upper level. The many vocational grammar schools in Baden-Württemberg only lead to the Abitur in grade 13.

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