Ethics class in Austria

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Ethics teaching in Austria is organized as a subject both as a compulsory subject and in the form of school experiments. The compulsory subject was introduced on September 1, 2021 for pupils from the ninth grade, provided they are not attending religious instruction. The introduction was preceded by years of controversial discussion. Ethics is still offered as a school experiment at some AHS lower levels and middle schools.


The aim of ethics lessons is independent reflection on how to live a successful life and a well-founded discussion of basic questions about one's own existence and coexistence. Central technical concepts are the reality of life of the individual, the coexistence in society and ethical-traditional guiding principles and ideas.

“The ethics lessons are based on the basic and human rights arising from the Enlightenment, on which the Austrian Federal Constitution and our education system are based. It is therefore neither value-neutral nor value-relativistic, but without being committed to a certain worldview. It does not see itself as a compensation subject for social problems and deficits, but supports schoolchildren in arriving at differentiated assessments and models of action in questions of world views, values ​​and norms. "

- Economy issue 79-12-2009


Religious instruction is a right for recognized churches and religious societies in Austria . According to the curriculum, no lessons were provided for students who cannot or do not want to take part in this period - if it was not a fringe lesson, these students had a free period .

Since the 1997/98 school year, numerous Austrian schools (previously AHS and BMHS ) have introduced “ ethics ” as a compulsory substitute as a school experiment for those pupils who cannot or do not want to take part in any denominational religious instruction. Pupils who belong to a state-registered denomination ( denominational community) and thus do not receive any religious instruction in their denomination in school, have to attend ethics classes as a matter of principle. In principle, ethics lessons are also to be completed by students without religious beliefs, provided they are not attending a religion class of their choice. Two hours a week are normally provided for ethics classes. Since there was no Austria-wide curriculum for ethics, each approved school experiment had its own curriculum - even if they were often the same in practice. In 2020, ethics was tested at 233 school locations.

In March 2019, Minister of Education Faßmann announced that this school subject would be mandatory from the 2020/21 school year, initially only for the upper level . Ethics as a compulsory subject for everyone who does not attend religious education was decided by the National Council on November 20, 2020.


In Austria ethics (as in other school subjects) is graded between 1 (= very good) and 5 (= not sufficient) .

Ethics in the lower grades (AHS and new middle school)

The subject of ethics is offered as a school experiment at several school locations in the lower level.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Philippe F. Lorre, Heinz Oberhummer: Ethics lessons in Austria. In: Humanistic Press Service (hpd). Central Council of the Non-Denominational , January 24, 2011, accessed April 18, 2017 .
  2. We are the only EU country without ethics classes! In: The press . October 22, 2007. Retrieved April 18, 2017 .
  3. Federal Law Gazette II No. 250/2021
  4. Values ​​and their communication. In: Economy Austria. December 18, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2017 .
  5. REPORT by the Federal Minister for Education, Art and Culture Dr. Claudia Schmied according to the resolution of the National Council of January 19, 2012 regarding ethics teaching (221 / E XXIV.GP). (PDF; 165 KB) In: Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture, January 19, 2012, p. 6 , accessed on September 1, 2021 .
  6. Ethics - compulsory subject for all pupils who do not attend religious instruction. April 16, 2021; Archived from the original on April 16, 2021 ; accessed on September 1, 2021 .
  7. Faßmann: From 2020 ethics lessons from the 9th grade. kathpress, on (March 4, 2019).
  8. Ethics - compulsory subject for all pupils who do not attend religious instruction. In: Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, November 20, 2020, accessed on November 20, 2020 : "With the resolution of the National Council of November 20, 2020 to amend the School Organization Act and to introduce ethics as a compulsory subject for all pupils, who do not attend religious instruction, a long-term school trial and one of the current educational policy goals have been brought into regular operation. "
  9. Ethics | GRG 1 parlor bastion. Retrieved September 1, 2021 (German).
  10. Ethics now also in lower grades - GRG 16. Accessed on September 1, 2021 (German).