All children in Germany should return to school in March, state ministers agree

State education ministers in all 16 states of Germany have agreed that children of all ages should start attending school again this month.

All children in Germany should return to school in March, state ministers agree
Photo: DPA

“The Council of Education Ministers is in agreement. We want all pupils to go back to school in March – even if this will often mean alternating classes for the time being,” said Britta Ernst, head of the education council.

In Germany education policies are set at the state level, but state education ministers confer regularly on policy in the Council of Education Ministers.

On February 22nd, primary schools and daycares (Kitas) reopened in ten states.

READ ALSO: ‘The right thing to do’: How Germany is reopening its schools

Different concepts were deployed with some states bringing kids in on a rotating basis, while others chose full classes with fixed “bubbles” of children, and others ordered compulsory masks even in class.

“Overall, the opening of primary schools has gone well,” said Ernst, who said that attendance must now be extended to teenagers.

“Even if mutated viral strains change the picture, we cannot afford to wait for a few more weeks. The school closures come with too high a social price for that to happen,” said Ernst, who is education minister in Brandenburg.

“Children and young people are suffering greatly due to the restriction on their contacts – not just educationally but psychologically. We can’t be indifferent to this.

“It’s clear to me that we must not only open up primary schools, but also at least go to alternate teaching at secondary schools,” she added.

Push for more digital infrastructure

The SPD politician also called on the federal government to pour more money into upgrading digital infrastructure in schools.

“The investments needed to keep our schools permanently up to date with digitalisation cannot be made by the states alone,” Ernst said. 

The education ministers have cited a study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which found that schoolchildren did not play a major role in driving the pandemic, to support their position.

More accurately, the RKI had found in its study that “schoolchildren tend not to play a major role in driving the epidemic, but that the incidence of infection is similar to the incidence in the overall population.”

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Schools in Sweden discriminate against parents with Arabic names: study

Parents with Arabic-sounding names get a less friendly response and less help when choosing schools in Sweden, according to a new study from the University of Uppsala.

Schools in Sweden discriminate against parents with Arabic names: study

In one of the largest discrimination experiments ever carried out in the country, 3,430 primary schools were contacted via email by a false parent who wanted to know more about the school. The parent left information about their name and profession.

In the email, the false parent stated that they were interested in placing their child at the school, and questions were asked about the school’s profile, queue length, and how the application process worked. The parent was either low-educated (nursing assistant) or highly educated (dentist). Some parents gave Swedish names and others gave “Arabic-sounding” names.

The report’s author, Jonas Larsson Taghizadeh said that the study had demonstrated “relatively large and statistically significant negative effects” for the fictional Arabic parents. 

“Our results show that responses to emails signed with Arabic names from school principals are less friendly, are less likely to indicate that there are open slots, and are less likely to contain positive information about the school,” he told The Local. 

READ ALSO: Men with foreign names face job discrimination in Sweden: study

The email responses received by the fictional Arabic parents were rated five percent less friendly than those received by the fictional Swedish parents, schools were 3.2 percentage points less likely to tell Arabic parents that there were open slots at the school, and were 3.9 percentage points less likely to include positive information about the municipality or the school. 

There was no statistically significant difference in the response rate and number of questions answered by schools to Swedish or Arabic-sounding parents. 

Taghizadeh said that there was more discrimination against those with a low social-economic status job than against those with an Arabic name, with the worst affected group being those who combined the two. 

“For socioeconomic discrimination, the results are similar, however, here the discrimination effects are somewhat larger,” he told The Local. 

Having a high economic status profession tended to cancel out the negative effects of having an Arabic name. 

“The discrimination effects are substantially important, as they could potentially indirectly influence parents’ school choice decision,” Taghizadeh said.

Investigating socioeconomic discrimination is also important in itself, as discrimination is seldom studied and as explicit discrimination legislation that bans class-based discrimination is rare in Western countries including Sweden, in contrast to laws against ethnic discrimination.”