German Chancellor Merkel Announces Grants for Digital Education Aids

Angela Merkel vor dem Bundeskanzleramt

The German government will provide a total of $7.5 billion to help the federal states digitalize schools, according to a press release from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office.

German federal and state governments also intend to set up competence centers for online and digitally assisted teaching. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the ministers of education and cultural affairs of the federal states agreed on this at a meeting at the Federal Chancellery on Monday evening. Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek, Head of the Federal Chancellery Helge Braun and SPD Chairperson Saskia Esken also attended the meeting.

School system plays a prominent role

Another common goal agreed was to avoid any widescale school closures if at all possible. All participants stressed that the pandemic had once again underlined the incredible importance of learning and school life for society. The many months of restrictions on schooling, unprecedented in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, was a major challenge for children and young people, and for their parents.

The participants were satisfied that since the summer break, classroom teaching has again been the norm in all federal states. They expressed their thanks to all those responsible and everybody in the schools who has made this possible. A framework drawn up by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder, or federal states, is to provide a basis for the measures taken by schools to prevent infection.     

Federal government fosters digitalization of schools

The federal and state governments pointed to the pivotal importance of online learning and the further digitalisation of schools. Although education is the responsibility of each federal state within the federal system, the national government accepts its responsibility to provide support. It is important to develop the fiber-optic network swiftly so that fiber-optic internet connections are available in all schools.  

Specifically, the federal government intends to provide a total of $7.5 billion for the digitalization of schools. This is to be used to equip teachers and disadvantaged children with suitable electronic devices. These are both to be financed under the digital compact for schools. The federal government will also provide some of the training for IT administrators and shoulder a share of the costs of these posts.

Competence centers for digital teaching

Over and above this, the federal and state governments are together planning to establish competence centers for online and digitally assisted teaching. The centers are to help schools produce media concepts and digital school development plans at local level.

The gradual development of an education platform by federal government is also planned. It is to network the existing federal-state-level systems with a view to providing material in all areas of education.  

New meeting scheduled for early 2021

Following the meeting at the Federal Chancellery, Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek reported that it had been a “good meeting that points the way forward”.  It demonstrated the importance attached by the federal government to education, she said. At the start of next year, Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the group to meet again for further discussions.

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