How do the Schools through the first Corona Winter? Rising infection rates and travel during the fall vacations, closed windows and digital helplessness in many municipalities are driving sweat onto the brow of parents and teachers.
This Monday (21. September) would be eligible for the School Summit The Chancellor's Office is focusing primarily on digitization – but that alone is not enough, as practitioners on the ground know.
The four most urgent problems – and what answers politicians have to them:
Tablets and fast Internet
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) wants to push for more speed in the digitization of schools at the meeting with Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU), SPD leader Saskia Esken and the state education ministers: "All schools should be connected to the fast Internet as quickly as possible," Merkel declared.
The state must support Digitization of schools Continue to push forward at full speed. "We need them as an indispensable supplement to face-to-face teaching," says the chancellor. In addition to the nationwide broadband connection of schools, there should also be Learning platforms and competence centers for digital education.
At an initial meeting in mid-August, the federal and state governments agreed, among other things, that each of the approximately 800.000 teachers should get a laptop suitable for digital teaching. The federal government plans to provide an additional 500 million euros for this purpose, financed from Corona aid from the EU. But there's a problem – and it's called, once again, Federalism: The federal government always has to find a way to pump money into the states first, in accordance with the Constitution.
Overall, there is no shortage of money at the moment, but it will take time for the funds to reach the schools. Over the Digital pact more than five billion euros have been available for months for technical modernization, including the installation of schools' own wifi or the purchase of interactive whiteboards. The states will add another 500 million. But there are problems here, too: The application process is so complicated that so far only a fraction of the money has reached the schools. More than a year after the launch of the Digital Pact for Schools, only 15.7 million euros of the five billion euros in funding had been spent by the end of August.
Faster it went fortunately with the Corona emergency program for students who do not have a PC at home: Many states have already begun using the federal government's 500-million-euro program to purchase loaner laptops for disadvantaged children and distribute them to schools.
Lesson cancellations and homeschooling set back weak students and children from educationally disadvantaged households in particular. To ensure that these children can close their learning gaps, so that the situation does not worsen in the event of a renewed shortfall in teaching, the states are looking for solutions: SPD leader Saskia Esken Now proposes to provide free tutoring for socially disadvantaged students.
The education and participation package could be used for this purpose. "Why don't we open up a subscription to a quality-checked tutoring platform for students, instead of the cost of the school trip, which is likely to be cancelled this school year anyway??", Esken told our editorial staff. It was important that students did not suffer disadvantages because of Corona tuition cancellations.
Educational equity, he said, means that students from at-risk groups who need to be quarantined or whose learning group is temporarily closed "are not disengaged from learning, but are kept in the game through high-quality digital or hybrid instruction".
Udo Beckmann has a nice picture of the situation in many German schools. Day after day, they have to solve too many problems with too few staff: "If I can keep the hole in the wall closed and still screw the smartboard to the wall with my foot, I still don't have the teacher who can substitute for math in 8a."
In view of this situation, the chairman of the Verband Bildung und Erziehung (VBE) warns against focusing political energy only on tablets and fast Internet. "The teacher makes the lesson – and the difference." It was important to have well-qualified teachers in adequately equipped schools. "The biggest problem in schools is the glaring shortage of teachers," Beckmann said.
At the turn of the year, there was also a shortfall of around 1,000 School principal. The measures against it are much too hesitant. "Merely increasing training capacity will not solve the problem.
Even now, a not inconsiderable number of students study to become teachers, but then prefer to go into other industries because there are better career prospects, more freedom and better pay here." Beckmann called for a joint effort by the states and the federal government to improve conditions for addressing the shortage of teachers.
Ventilation and hygiene
Windows that do not open. Heaters that break down in the middle of winter. School toilets, which have long been breeding grounds for pathogens. In addition narrow classrooms, overcrowded gymnasiums, endless queues in the refectory. For years, this has been the daily routine in many schools. In this Corona winter it means: the best Hygiene concept is of no use if the measures do not work at all structurally.
The current KfW Municipal Panel, a survey of cities and municipalities with more than 2,000 inhabitants and all rural districts, now shows how massive the problems are: The investment backlog at schools is 44.2 billion euros.
VBE head Beckmann has sympathy for the municipalities, which are losing tax revenue in the Corona crisis and need their personnel capacities in the immediate fight against Corona. However: "That doesn't care about the broken roof of the school, the missing ventilation system and the old blackboard that is to be replaced by a smartboard."
The VBE therefore expects the school summit in the chancellor's office to produce a Construction offensive – "in which investments are made in schools according to criteria that call for and encourage innovation".
But it takes time for such an offensive to take effect. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach urgently calls for short-term solutions for the winter: If the infection figures continue to rise and the ventilation concepts no longer work because of the falling outside temperatures, there are only two ways: the use of Ventilation systems or Teaching concepts, to increase the hygiene gap between students.