Cabinet advises on leisure bonus and tuition fees billion | Free press

Berlin (dpa) – The federal cabinet wants to get two major projects in family and education policy off the ground. To cope with the consequences of the corona for children and young people, a corona catch-up program for children and young people worth approximately two billion euros will be introduced.

In addition, the Ministry of Family Affairs and Education has submitted a joint bill to implement the legal right to full-day care for primary school students, which has been agreed in the coalition agreement.

Corona’s planned catch-up program will consist of two pillars: approximately EUR 1 billion will support study and support programs for school children in the federal states. It is assumed that every fourth student has to catch up on learning arrears. The states should be able to use the funding to expand existing programs, such as summer camps and tutoring during the school year. Courses could be taken over by foundations, associations, initiatives, adult education centers, retired teachers, trainee teachers and also commercial tutors.

Another billion is earmarked to supplement various social programs to deal with the social and psychological consequences of the crisis for children and young people. Among other things, a one-off payment of 100 euros has been provided for children from families who are dependent on Hartz IV or who have only a very low income. The money must be able to be used for holidays, sports and leisure activities as needed. More money will also be made available for language education at daycare centers in socially disadvantaged areas because many children could not go to the facilities. There is also more support for school social work, leisure activities and low-cost holiday travel.

The German Association of Cities called for a speedy implementation of the catch-up program. “We need to help children and young people directly so that they can deal with the social and psychological consequences of the lockdowns,” said Vice President Markus Lewe of the editorial network Germany (RND). Time and energy should not be wasted on complicated application procedures. Lewe, who is also Mayor of Münster, also called on the federal states to “noticeably” supplement the federal money with their own resources.

Minister of State for Integration Annette Widmann-Mauz (CDU) spoke out for special attention for children and young people from refugee and immigrant families and for more language and leisure activities for them. Her families have been particularly hard hit by the effects of the pandemic, she told the RND. Many work in professions where home office is not possible, such as healthcare, retail or hospitality, which has more to do with short-time working or unemployment.

The cabinet also wants to initiate the legal right to childcare for the whole day at primary school. Shortly before the end of the parliamentary term, the grand coalition tries to implement one of its central projects in the field of education and family. Under the bill from the Federal Department of Family Affairs and the Federal Department of Education, children attending school from the 2025/2026 school year must be entitled to full-day care for the first four school years – for at least eight hours. on weekdays and also during holidays.

Some federal states, especially in the east, already have well-developed day care facilities, either in the form of day schools or as a combination of school and after-school care. In other countries, a lot of investment would still have to be made to be able to meet the legal entitlement from 2025. Due to the enormous costs for ongoing operations, personnel and investments in the primary schools, there is still a dispute today. The federal states are demanding greater financial participation from the federal government. Approval in the Federal Council and implementation of the project up to the Bundestag elections are therefore open.

The government had already pledged EUR 3.5 billion for investment and continued participation in running costs. The bill mentions three-digit million amounts annually by the federal government.

The German Association of Cities and Towns was skeptical. Given the pre-existing shortage of skilled workers in educational professions, “it will not be possible to create approximately 800,000 additional full-time places by 2030,” general manager Gerd Landsberg told Funke media group newspapers. Many health care providers also reached retirement age in the coming years. Landsberg called on federal and state governments to initiate a training initiative for educational professions and spoke out in favor of a significantly higher federal government share of running costs.

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