The Corona crisis, if it was necessary at all, once again clearly showed the challenges our education system has. Under hashtags such as #elterninderkrise or #coronaeltern, parents exchanged information about their excessive demands and hardships and complained about the lack of commitment from individual educators. However, efforts were made on both sides: Many teachers, even if they often had to take care of their own children at home, completed twelve-hour days in order to do justice to all of their students in homeschooling. The most bitter finding at this time: Almost 20 percent of school children were not reached for weeks.

The donation-financed education foundation has set itself the goal of supporting day-care centers, schools, children, teachers, parents and all those involved. For the seventh time, they are currently awarding the "Verein (t) für gut Kita und Schule" promotional award, a nationwide award for daycare and school development associations. If education is to be fairer, then we need more social engagement and the willingness to donate enough, says chairwoman Katja Hintze.

ZEIT ONLINE : During the lockdown period, parents complained that families have no lobby in politics. What do you think?

Katja Hintze : This is finally being discussed in broad circles! We have been calling for this for a long time. We are very urgently looking for donations for this.

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ZEIT ONLINE : So the goal of your foundation is lobbying?  

Hintze: Our vision is to have comparable structures in education such as the technical aid organization, sports associations or charities. We are lagging behind in Germany. We have a federal parents' council for schools and one for daycare centers and one for daycare and school support associations, we also have a federal student conference, but none of these structures has a stable, long-term full-time office. We are looking for 1.5 million euros a year for everyone. 

As long as it is, even in such extreme situations as in Corona, nobody sits on the lap of a member of parliament or the Chancellor and puts pressure on the interests of children and parents. We have too few educational lobbyists at all. We have covered the interests of teachers, for example through GEW, but not that of families or children and young people.

ZEIT ONLINE: Why are daycare and school support associations needed? Because the state fails?

Hintze: That is not necessarily the point. We do demand that twelve percent of our gross domestic product must be spent on education and that much more must be invested. At the same time, it is also clear that uncomplicated and quick solutions can be provided very well by daycare and school support associations on site. So it is important that there is both volunteering and donations, as well as good government funding. At the outbreak of the corona pandemic in particular, we saw that sponsorship associations, for example through sponsorships between children of the same age, can help very quickly, so that children can learn digitally and motivate each other.

ZEIT ONLINE: When I think of a support association, I immediately think of committed, middle-class parents. Doesn't that make education even more unfair?

Hintze: No. The association of committed parents was certainly the overwhelming majority in the Federal Republic thirty years ago. There is now a lot more diversity. This has changed completely in the last five to ten years. This may be a consequence of the Pisa shock that people want to get more involved in education, even beyond their own children's school. Sport is still the largest voluntary field, but there is growing interest in supporting education. We have 40,000 daycare and school support associations nationwide, which means that over 80 percent of the schools are supported by school support associations, and the estimated 30 percent of daycare centers. While high schools were mainly supported in the past, vocational schools and focus schools now also have their support associations. The rule applies here: the more middle-class the school, the more likely we are to find parents in the association, the more precarious the school, the greater the commitment of teachers or committed people from the neighborhood.

ZEIT ONLINE : Are there any examples of school support associations that have been able to significantly improve educational conditions at a focus school?

Hintze: There are isolated examples, such as a school in Berlin-Neukölln with children from 20 countries of origin and 96 percent of pupils with a migration background. This school receives 150,000 euros a year for projects through its school support association. The sum is comparable to another school support association in Zehlendorf. However, these are still financial exceptions with which educational conditions can definitely be improved.

The commitment to education in Germany, if it is not about the school or daycare of your own child, is a fairly recent phenomenon. People are used to donating money for charitable purposes or for sponsoring children's education abroad. But donating to schools in Germany first has to be learned socially. We need a lot more resources and know-how so that the diverse potential of daycare and school support associations - the nationwide commitment to education in civil society - can be fully developed. That is one of the reasons why we started.

ZEIT ONLINE: What types of engagement are there besides financial?

Hintze : In addition to donations, the know-how and time donations are of course particularly important. Maybe even more important. For example, people who supervise homework, offer AGs, create intercultural cooking courses and include opportunities for encounters. Sponsorships are also a very big topic. These things don't need a lot of money, but they promote the individual child and social cohesion.

ZEIT ONLINE: Millennials are less willing to donate than their parents. Is that important when it comes to education?

Hintze: Younger people donate differently in any case. Not regularly and reliably, not as an annual membership fee, but spontaneously, project-related, to many different organizations. Five euros for this project, ten euros for that one. Or even 1,000 euros if you are really convinced. This can be seen from the large number of donation platforms.

ZEIT ONLINE: You are currently awarding the "Association (t) for good daycare and school" funding award in 2020. What do I have to do as a day care or school support association to be successful?

Hintze: The associations of day care and school support associations in your federal state and finally convince this year's jury with your project. This year it's about "Equal Opportunities l (i)". In other words, projects on the subject of integration, inclusion, diversity or gender.

ZEIT ONLINE: Do you expect many Corona-related applications?

Hintze: Yes, definitely. The call for applications is open until August 30, we will be surprised. Anyone wishing to donate for education or the sponsorship award is welcome. We are grateful for any educational donation and promise to use it effectively.