Guiding Principle

How we define “Economic Education”

Economic Education is understood as the entirety of all endeavours in general secondary education where children and youngsters are equipped with the

  • knowledge, skills, abilities, motivation and mindset, enabling them to
  • come to terms with the economic conditions of their everyday lives as well as the social, political, legal, technical, ecological and ethical aspects associated with these conditions
  • on a personal, industrial, economical as well as on a global level

The aim should be to enable them to manage and shape their own life situations, both now and in the future.

Economic Education is synonymous with a general secondary education

Economic Education is neither a preconceived vocational training programme nor a response to the demands from the business world; instead it is more about being part of the broader curriculum. It cannot be divorced from the modern-day curricula content of a child’s education, regardless of the type of school that the child attends.

Our responsibility is to promote a knowledge base regarding the crossovers between economics, politics and social affairs as well as to improve insights into the structures and processes of the market economy.

From an early age, children have to know the basics of our economic and social order. It will enable them to participate as mature citizens in the future development of this economic and social order. To reach our goal, we need teachers, both willing to undertake this task and also qualified to do the job.


Economic Education in the German Federal States

Economic Education is taught in Hauptschulen and Realschulen [equivalent to Secondary Schools in England] in the German state of Lower Saxony with Economics being offered as an additional optional subject. In Gymnasien [equivalent to grammar schools in England] in Lower Saxony, Politics and Economics are combined into one subject, but allotted the same time on the school timetable. This model is not replicated in other German federal states.

Diagram: “Subject-didactic Education Poverty Cycle”. Source (German language publication):

Konzeption für die ökonomische Bildung als Allgemeinbildung von der Primarstufe bis zur Sekundarstufe I (Kaminski, Hans/Eggert, Katrin, ed. by Bundesverband deutscher Banken, Berlin 2008, p. 59).

More often than not, Economic Education forms a part of a subject known in German as Integrationsfach [Integration Subject], combining numerous disciplines or subject groups together, such as social sciences or the world of work, economy, design technology. In those German federal states where Economics is not offered on the school timetable, a mandatory requirement does not exist to allot time on the timetable to the subject; nor is the subject taught at teacher training universities. This means that there will be teachers, professionally trained at universities, but not in a position to teach Economic Education in schools. The recent introduction of undergraduate programmes at German universities has given birth to Economic Education as a discipline worthy of pursuit. University degree programmes are the means through which future academic personnel can be nurtured for Economic Education; a vibrant research community established; and new perspectives opened up for the development of educational research in this field. It is all about breaking the “Subject-didactic Education Poverty Cycle”. It is, for that reason, that we are committed to introducing Economics in general secondary schooling – right across Germany!


The Oldenburg Model for nationwide implementation of Economic Education in German schools

Broken down into smaller tasks, the following should be considered to ensure that economic content is implemented in German primary, secondary and grammar schools in a sustainable manner:

  • the aiding and assisting of the future shape of the political and organisational framework (e.g. time allotted on the timetable for Economic Education in general secondary schooling and the inclusion of provisions for Economic Education in the school curricula);
  • winning over promoters and sponsors who are willing to actively support interlinking Economic Education together with Public Private Partnership models (“best practice”);
  • offering teacher training, further and advanced training for teachers so that they are qualified to teach Economic Education; and
  • preparing and making available media, materials and ideas for lessons.

The “Oldenburg Model” depicts this strategic approach to drive innovation in the German general education system.

Girl at the baker's:
© lisegagne /