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MILITARY

Army eyes school dropouts to fill ranks

German military officials are considering pursuing high school dropouts to fill the Bundeswehr's ranks following the end to conscription, a media report said Tuesday. But a plan to recruit foreigners is encountering resistance.

Army eyes school dropouts to fill ranks
Photo: DPA

The Bundeswehr is hoping to make military service more attractive to less educated and unskilled Germans as it transitions to a fully professional force, daily Financial Times Deutschland reported.

“In light of the demographic developments as well as the ongoing structural adjustments to the Bundeswehr, young people with below-average education and school dropouts will now be approached for recruiting,” the document acquired by the paper reads.

This “opening of new potential for gaining personnel” will be necessary to maintain the necessary troop numbers, it says, calling the plan an “Attractiveness Programme.”

These recruits would be targeted to fill mainly lower-ranking military positions, the paper said.

The latest detail in military reform plans by the Defence Ministry came after this weekend’s news that foreigners living in Germany could be allowed to join the Bundeswehr.

But a Defence Ministry spokesperson told the Financial Times Deutschland on Tuesday that only EU citizens and those from a few other countries would be among those considered for enlistment.

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition are apparently considered foreigners could have divided loyalties.

“Germany doesn’t need a foreign legion,” said Christian Lindner, the general secretary of the Free Democrats.

Other ideas revealed over the weekend included plans to make the Bundeswehr more family-friendly for soldiers, with the provision of parent-child work rooms in around 200 bases, as well as holiday care for children to be provided at 100 bases.

The top age limit for reserve soldiers would also be scrapped, with the maximum time for soldiers to remain in the military raised from 20 to 25 years.

The Local/ka

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EDUCATION

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

Sweden's Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES) chain has been denied permission to open four new schools in Gothenburg, Huddinge, Norrtälje, and Upplands-Bro, after the schools inspectorate said it had not provided pupil data.

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

According to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has denied permission to the chain to open a new planned new school in Norrtälje, north of Stockholm, even though the building that will house it is already half built. The inspectorate has also denied permission to three other schools which the chain had applied to start in 2023. 

In all four cases, the applications have been rejected because the school did not submit the required independent assessment for how many pupils the schools were likely to have. 

Jörgen Stenquist, IES’s deputy chief executive, said that IES has not in the past had to submit this data, as it has always been able to point to the queues of pupils seeking admissions to the school. 

“The fact that Engelska Skolan, as opposed to our competition, has never had the need to hire external companies to do a direct pupil survey is because we have had so many in line,” he told DN.

“In the past, it has been enough that we reported a large queue in the local area. But if the School Inspectorate wants us to conduct targeted surveys and ask parents directly if they want their children to start at our new schools, then maybe we have to start doing that.”

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According to the newspaper, when the inspectorate had in the past asked for pupil predictions, the chain has refused, stating simply “we do not make student forecasts”, which the inspectorate has then accepted. 

However, in this year’s application round, when IES wrote: “We do not carry out traditional interest surveys as we simply have not had a need for this,” the inspectorate treated it as grounds to reject its applications. 

According to DN, other school chain have been complaining to the inspectorate that IES gets favourable treatment and was excused some requirements other chains have to fulfil. 

Liselotte Fredzell, from the inspectorate’s permitting unit, confirmed that the inspectorate was trying to be more even handed. 

“Yes, it is true that we are now striving for a more equal examination of applications. Things may have been getting too slack, and we needed to tighten up.” 

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