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Open letter to the NRW government: Bonn students demand different Abi conditions

Open letter to the NRW government : Bonn students demand different Abi conditions

In an open letter, Bonn students are calling on the NRW state government to adjust this year's Abitur and give high school graduates more choices. The Ministry of Education comments on the request.

Bonn students want more say in the Corona Abitur. In an open letter, which has now been signed by around 230 high school graduates from five schools, they call on the NRW state government to allow them to choose between an average Abitur and school-specific exams.

The signature campaign was initiated by the senior class of the Elisabeth-Selbert-Gesamtschule. "We think the current situation is unfair. It's about us, and we weren't even asked," says 18-year-old Anna Kira Westphalen, who wrote the lines with her classmate Miriam Lemjimer. They deliberately chose an open letter: A petition would first have to go through the state parliament. "But that takes too long, we don't have that much time," she says. Because the exams are coming up soon.

In the three-page letter, the students articulate the problems they have been having for about a year. "Our work environment depends heavily on the social and financial situation of our respective guardians," it says. Distance learning, they say, is plagued by technical glitches and is "not an adequate substitute for face-to-face instruction." Each teacher has different media skills, "which means a significant drop-off in high-quality instruction." But there is also "drastic emotional and psychological pressure": in addition to additional tensions in the school and family sphere, the fear of not being able to make up for gaps in the material that have arisen is a burden. "The situation in which we will attend the gymnasiale Oberstufe and take our Abitur exams is not comparable to the framework conditions of previous years."

Even Westphalen, who otherwise had no problems in school, is worried - though not about not passing the Abitur. "In the general learning process, I find it harder to stay focused," she says. Many are unsettled by the pressure that something could come up in the exams that wasn't covered at all or only briefly in the pandemic lessons.

Each teacher was able to arrange the material independently - but because progress was much slower, there was not enough time for some topics. In the central Abitur, these complexes would nevertheless be tested. The average Abitur would result from the average grade, based on the points achieved in Q1 and Q2, which under normal circumstances would have been included in the Abitur grade. With the school-specific Abi, schools can set the exams themselves.

While many parents and teachers support the students' push, the NRW Ministry of Education communicated a rejection in response to a GA inquiry: "NRW's guiding principle is that students should not suffer any disadvantages due to the pandemic. This includes the state government's goal of providing students with full-fledged diplomas at the end of their schooling, based on exams that are recognized throughout Germany without any cutbacks." If North Rhine-Westphalia were to leave the group of states and offer easier exams or even an average Abitur, there would be a risk that these degrees would not be recognized in other states. "Therefore, there will not be a choice between the centralized Abitur and decentralized Abitur exams or even an average Abitur.“

Students who want to participate in the campaign can email anna-kira-westphal@web.de as well as support the Instagram channel „abitur2021nrw".

Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach

Translation: Mareike Graepel