Germany: More investment needed in primary schools

German education unionists are calling for a comprehensive set of measures to improve the situation at primary schools in response to a new report on education in the sector.

A recent report critical of educational outcomes in North Rhine-Westphalia – and subsequent comments by the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Minister of Education highlighting NRW students’ weak achievements in German and mathematics - has led to a call by the Verband Bildung und Erziehung (VBE) for more investment and support of the primary school sector.

The study, “Trends in Education”, was published on 20 October by the Institute for Educational Quality Improvement (Institut zur Qualitätsentwicklung im Bildungswesen-IQB).

Resources needed

The Education Minister, Yvonne Gebauer, seemed to think that teachers were responsible for the results of the IQB study, VBE Regional President Udo Beckmann explained. This is “unbearable for teachers who often work at the limits of their performance”, he added.

“We urgently need more trained teachers, as well as support for schools, more investment per primary school, and a more equitable salary for teachers. If public authorities do not make more effort financially, we can only come top in areas like lack of education and failure in mathematics,” he warned.

Acknowledging that the results of the IQB study were not surprising for his trade union, he highlighted that a VBE study last year had shown that “the framework conditions are not right and investment is necessary”.

Blame game

It is very striking that more educated German regions invest more in education, Beckmann insisted.  However, in NRW, rather than increased investment in elementary schools, colleagues were facing increased questioning of their teaching methods, “a bitter disappointment for hard-working teachers”.

That is why the VBE is calling for more support in the form of a better framework, so that NRW, as announced by the new government, can become a land of advancement through education, Beckmann underlined. The VBE has launched an online petition, so that, “with a signature, every citizen can now demand better education in our country”.

“Primary schools have been neglected for too long, although they are crucial for a good start to the education of our children,” he said, urging everyone to sign and help to improve the situation at primary schools in the NRW region.

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