Germany: Successful petition demands more time to support students

published 1 June 2021 updated 3 June 2021

Over 15,000 people signed a petition organised by Education International’s German affiliates, the Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW) and the Verband Bildung und Erziehung (VBE), along with the Primary School Association (GSV, German acronym).

The joint petition, “New elementary school curricula – Not Now!(in German) was launched earlier this year. In this petition and in subsequent discussions with the Education Ministry, GEW, VBE and GSV reiterated their demand not to have to implement the new curricula for primary and special schools by the coming school year.

The education organisations have made it clear that primary and special needs schools need sufficient time for students, along with their individual support and lessons, especially in the current difficult public health situation.

VBE: Positive signal, but not enough

A positive outcome has been the decision by the NRW Education Ministry not to directly burden schools with the implementation of the new curricula in the coming school year.

However, the VBE wants more action. “The focus must be put on children and young people,” said Stefan Behlau, president of the VBE branch in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). “It is good that Ms. Yvonne Gebauer, NRW Education Minister, understood that in connection with the curriculum. Now it is important to continue to come to an understanding about the coming school year and the challenges for all types of school.”

GEW: Comprehensive and effective support needed

According to the GEW, the Coronavirus pandemic will present elementary schools with enormous challenges for a long time. “Teachers now need to dedicate all their time for the students to provide them with comprehensive and effective support in this extremely difficult and exceptional situation,” insisted Maike Finnern, president of the GEW branch in NRW. “All schools should be able to use any time gained to actually deal with the present tasks.”

GSV: Primary schools are at their absolute limit

Christiane Mika, president of the GSV branch in NRW, also noted that “primary schools are at their absolute limit. For teachers to continue to focus on their priority tasks and support children, they need to find encouragement and support.”