Equal Opportunities Through Education: Broken Promises to Growth? – News from Regensburg


From the point of view of child, youth and family policy experts, the promise of promotion is broken in Germany: it is clear that poverty shapes children’s education and that it also affects the education system, he said in the public. expert discussion.

During a technical discussion at the Sustainable Development Advisory Parliament on Wednesday evening, 6 July, experts on child, youth and family policy agreed that the promise of “promotion through education” would not be kept in Germany. The lecture was on “High-quality education as a sustainable means of fighting poverty and social inequalities in the sense of SDGs”.

One in five children grows up in poverty

According to Antje Funcke, senior expert on family and education at the Bertelsmann Foundation, the situation in Germany has been deplorable since 2005, with one in five children constantly growing up in poverty. 2.8 million children and adolescents are affected. “Poverty is often an enduring condition for these children because it is very difficult to escape the reference to SGB II,” said Funke. Children from one-parent or large families are particularly affected.

Educational privileges thanks to social background

However, since the shock at Pisa in 2001, the education system has hardly succeeded in breaking the close link between social origins and educational success. Instead, the national education report on education, published two weeks ago, once again stated that “this link is consistently strong.” Differences in skills among children with the highest and lowest social status increased, said an expert from the Bertelsmann Foundation.
Fourth-graders from privileged families have an advantage of about a year in mathematics and German over children and adolescents from low-income households. Corona will widen that gap, Funcke said. The proverb: “The apple is not far from the tree” is unfortunately more appropriate to the education system in Germany than the sentence: “Everyone is the blacksmith of his own destiny.”

“Young people’s voices must be listened to urgently”

Amir Sallachi, a youth expert on the child poverty team of the Bertelsmann Foundation and a member of the Krefeld city youth council, called children’s rights education “fundamental”. He stated that thanks to this, children and adolescents could engage on a large scale in social structures. Existing formats for participation have not proved to be immune to the crisis, especially during the koruna pandemic. Children’s and youth parliaments, youth councils and other organizations have had no contact with those they are supposed to represent. “Especially in a crisis like this, young people’s voices must be heard urgently,” emphasized Sallachi.

Social mobility in Germany is declining

Michael Klundt, professor of child policy at the University of Applied Sciences at Magdeburg-Stendal, referred to a 2018 study that showed that income inequality in the most developed industrialized countries has steadily increased since the 1990s, while ‘social mobility’ has stalled a blind spot. According to the study, on average in OECD countries, it took a human being five generations to develop “from the bottom to the center of society”. While it takes “only” two to three generations in the Nordic countries, the value for Germany is six generations, or 180 years, Klundt said. “It’s not about going from a dishwasher to a millionaire,” says the researcher. To stay in the picture, it’s more about switching from dishwasher to cooking.

The education system strengthens social inequalities

From his point of view, the problem begins with kindergarten. First, there are not enough seats. On the other hand, lower-income families would also have to spend the largest proportion of all income groups in the cost of day care. It continues in the school where, according to Klundt, the best students from poor households with a low level of education squeeze out by the beginning of high school at the latest. Economically speaking, it is a waste of human resources to discourage and not promote skilled people. According to the expert, in Germany there is a disproportionate number of origins in relation to the education of own parents and a disproportionate number of promotions compared to the OECD. In this way, the education system strengthens social inequalities, Klundt said.


German Bundestag / RNRed

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