Education International
Education International

Germany: Resources and rule changes needed for quality education

published 3 November 2014 updated 6 November 2014

Education unions in Germany are calling for adequate funding for quality education at all levels, from early childhood education to vocational education and training.

VBE: More resources needed

“If you do not want to leave a single child behind, you need to create optimal conditions,” said Udo Beckmann, Federal President of the Verband Bildung und Erziehung(VBE), an affiliate of Education International (EI). “The quality of schools must not depend on the Treasury’s discretionary will.”

VBE demands that the education funding in the state budget of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) be increased, he said.

In particular, inclusion in schools needs increased staffing in order to work better. “We need smaller class sizes and double staffing for all inclusive classes,” said Beckmann. “Given the decline in student numbers and associated demographic gains, education staff can be used in these classes. An additional 7,000-10,000 teaching jobs are required for the implementation of inclusion in regular schools.”

Beckmann also called on state governments, such as the NRW, to take action against the lack of school leaders. In primary schools in particular, there are too few applications, mostly because well-qualified teachers know that the salary and the time dedicated to school leadership are neither worth the amount of work nor the responsibility, he said.

GEW: Procurement changes needed in vocational education and training sector

Another EI affiliate, the Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft(GEW), has concerns about vocational education and training. On 17 October, it published the “Black Book 3: allocation of education and training services” in response to the planned reform of public procurement law at federal level. No area of education has been as strongly deregulated in the past as publicly funded vocational education and training, according to the GEW.

Its report illustrates the deplorable conditions under which teachers and education staff work under regulations concerning vocational education and training set out by the Federal Employment Agency.

Precarious working conditions, low level salaries, competition, as well as a gradual decline in quality are all consequences of political decisions, said the union. It urges the federal Government and the Economy and Labour Ministries to amend the legal basis for the allocation of training.

“GEW calls for a coherent system, collaboration continuity, and pedagogical quality,” said Ansgar Klinger, a GEW Board member with responsibility for vocational education and training. “Therefore, long-term partnerships with qualified and reliable suppliers of educational measures must be concluded and the financing of the services ensured. The price of a measure must no longer be the decisive criterion for its allocation. In the future, only financially reliable providers must be considered for the allocation.”

GEW demands a significant change to previous practices pertaining to the allocation of vocational education and training services – in the interests of employees, students, and the providers. Good vocational education and training requires a good legal framework.

EI: Responsibility of public authorities

“Like our German colleagues, we wish to remind public authorities that it is their responsibility to provide clear regulation and adequate public funding in education – these are vital to ensure access to quality education for all, at all levels,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.