Status: 21/09/2023, 17:33 p.m.
The Start Opportunities Program planned by Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) is probably the most important education policy project of the traffic light. © Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa
The traffic light is advancing its most important education policy project: the federal and state governments have cleared hurdles for the so-called start opportunity program out of the way and agree on the first key points.
Berlin - 4000 schools in Germany with around one million pupils can expect special state funding in the coming years in the billions. After months of tough negotiations, the federal and state governments have agreed on "decisive cornerstones" for the start opportunities program planned by the traffic light government for schools in difficult situations, as the Federal Ministry of Education and the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder (KMK) announced in Berlin.
There is a lot of potential in the program to help ensure that educational success does not depend or no longer depends so strongly on social background, said Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP). About one in ten schools and vocational schools is expected to benefit from additional funding in the coming decade. In total, there are around 40,000 schools with almost eleven million pupils in Germany.
"It can't go on like this"
Schools "with a high proportion of socially disadvantaged pupils" are to be promoted, as stated in the coalition agreement of the traffic light. They are to be supported with money, for example, for investments in a better and modern learning environment as well as for a more attractive working environment for staff. In addition, there are funds for the free disposal of the schools - a so-called opportunity budget. In addition, additional positions for school social work are to be created.
The background to this is the realization that success at school in Germany continues to depend heavily on the parental home. Educational studies also show a decline in competences. Many children fail in primary school at reading, writing, arithmetic, lag behind and then do not graduate later. "Everywhere it is clear that it can no longer go on like this," said Hamburg's school senator and coordinator of the SPD-led ministries of education, Ties Rabe.
Up to one billion euros annually from the federal government
According to the key points, the funding program is to start in the coming school year, initially with at least 1000 schools because of the planning and preparation time. By the 2026/27 school year at the latest, all 4000 schools are to be included. It is scheduled to run for ten years. The federal government wants to provide up to one billion euros annually. The federal states are to contribute the same amount, whereby they may credit their own similar funding programmes that are already underway. This was the subject of long and hard negotiations.
One of the key points is to halve the number of pupils who fail to meet the minimum standards in math and German at the Startchancen schools by the end of the programme.
Another point of contention was the criteria used to select the schools that are to receive the funding and how the federal money is distributed accordingly to the federal states. It is now planned that the federal states themselves will select their schools to be funded, name them before the start of the program and justify the selection in line with the goals of the Start Opportunities program. Essential factors in the selection should be how much children and young people are affected by poverty at a school and how many pupils come from families with a migration background. Dpa