Protest in Berlin: An alliance of trade unions and initiatives calls for an education summit
Fabian Sommer / dpa
According to the organizers, around 20,000 people nationwide protested against grievances in daycare centers and schools under the motto "Bildungswende jetzt!" and called on politicians to act. Despite the federalism of education, concrete demands were directed at Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD).
"We have a nationwide education crisis," said Philipp Dehne, spokesman for the initiative "School must be different," which is one of the organizers along with the Education and Science Union. That's why we see the chancellor as responsible." Among other things, Scholz is called upon to convene an education summit.
An alliance of around 180 organizations, including parent and student representatives, had called for the day of protest on Saturday. One of the core demands is a special fund of 100 billion euros for education – analogous to the special fund for the Bundeswehr that Scholz had promised shortly after the start of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine.
In almost 30 cities, according to the information, there were smaller and larger actions on Saturday. According to the police, around 500 people demonstrated in Hamburg. They marched through the city with signs and banners with inscriptions such as "Education and training are not a commodity", "Only the best for the children" or "No clever brains – no future".
According to the organizers, around 7000 people gathered at a rally in Berlin, about 2000 in Munich and about 3500 in Cologne. The police assumed slightly lower figures. "We have seen for years that the education sector is being driven to the wall and no one is doing anything. So we're taking to the streets," said Christian Bickmann, chairman of the North Rhine-Westphalia State Parents' Conference, on WDR.
The increasing number of pupils had been foreseeable for several years, according to Bickmann. "Now the classes are bursting at the seams. The supply of teachers is not guaranteed. The loss of lessons is lamented by every school.« The SPD in North Rhine-Westphalia took the day of protest as an opportunity to call on the state government, the federal government and local actors to work together.
In order to combat the "educational catastrophe" in North Rhine-Westphalia, a joint effort is needed "beyond the party-political calculations," according to a joint statement by the NRW-SPD and Social Democratic elected representatives at federal, state and local level. Among other things, they are calling for a rescue package for the underfunded daycare centers as well as state investment funding for the modernization of schools.
"Nowhere else does the educational catastrophe have such a magnitude as here," said the North Rhine-Westphalian SPD parliamentary group leader Jochen Ott. The state government has not yet grasped the dimension of the problem. Among other things, the teaching profession must be made more attractive with new working time models.
More on the subject
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Start-up opportunities programme for hotspots: 4000 schools are hoping for funding – and what are politicians doing? By Silke Fokken, Armin Himmelrath and Miriam Olbrisch
NRW Minister of Education Dorothee Feller (CDU) spoke in the newspaper "Rheinische Post" with a guest article: She emphasized her understanding for many of the demands that were articulated during the protests. Too much has piled up in recent years. But we are now tackling it courageously," she wrote. According to Feller, the school budget will grow by 354 million euros in next year's budget despite the difficult economic situation. However, further support from the federal government is also needed, for example in the second Digital Pact.
It was only this week that the federal and state governments agreed on the key points of the "Start Opportunities Program". The federal government wants to provide one billion euros annually for 4000,<> schools in socially difficult situations; for at least ten years. The countries are making the same contribution.
The program is considered a prestige education policy project of the traffic light government, which had already promised corresponding funding for more equal opportunities in its coalition agreement. However, the federal and state governments had been struggling for months to shape it. For example, the distribution of the funds among the states was controversial. The level of child poverty is now partly taken into account.
In addition to demands for more money, the alliance "Bildungswende Jetzt" is also calling for a skilled workers offensive to attract teachers and educators. Education researchers estimate that there will be 2035,160 teachers by 000 alone. Even in daycare centers, a number of positions cannot be filled due to a lack of applicants.
Against this background, Brandenburg's Minister of Education Steffen Freiberg (SPD) justified on Saturday that he wants to lower the requirements for daycare staff in his state. According to this, around one-fifth of under-trained educators should also be able to work in the daycare centres, so-called supplementary staff.
In response to criticism of such a regulation, the minister told the "Märkische Oderzeitung": No one would be forced to hire 20 percent supplementary staff: "I congratulate all providers who can continue to work with 100 percent skilled workers. But we don't have that 100 percent anymore."