The Start Chances program is being debated in the Bundestag. Some see this as a great success, others see it as not enough.

A woman gives a speech.

Ria Schröder (FDP) intervenes in the plenary session of the Bundestag in the debate on educational equality Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa

SEDAN taz | Kräfitge's self-praise: The traffic light groups used the debate on educational equality in the Bundestag on Thursday mainly to pat themselves on the back. Members of government factions called the recently approved Starting Opportunities program a “paradigm shift” and the “largest educational project in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.” The opposition, on the other hand, called for more modesty.

A good two months ago, the federal and state governments agreed on the €20 billion Starting Opportunities programme. The money goes to selected schools, partly to finance construction work, but partly for free use. An opportunity budget should also be able to be used to hire more staff, especially in the area of ​​school social work. The goal is to increase educational injustice, especially in so-called hotspot schools.

Starting next school year, the initiative will initially be implemented in 1,000 schools, the majority of which will be elementary schools. It will then be expanded to around 4,000 schools by the 2026/27 school year. Over the agreed ten-year term, the federal and state governments will share the costs equally.

For the first time, funds are not only distributed according to the Königstein key, but a new mechanism is used. When distributing funds for structural changes, the risk of poverty rate, the rate of people of immigrant origin and the gross domestic product of the federated states are taken into account. However, the opportunity budget and personnel money will be distributed as before.

Union warns not to neglect children's education

According to the traffic light government, aid should reach the schools that need it most in a more targeted way than before. “We are putting an end to the watering can,” Ria Schröder, FDP education policy spokesperson, stressed in the plenary session on Thursday. The program is a declaration of war on the educational emergency. Kai Gehring (Verts) also pointed out that until now educational success depends too much on social origin, parents' pocketbooks and zip code. This is exactly where the project should start. This is “the beginning of a radical change in education,” Gehring said.

Criticism came from the opposition. Several speakers from the Union parliamentary group criticized that the program will only benefit ten percent of the approximately 40,000 schools in all of Germany. There are problems in all schools in the country, not just those selected for the program, stressed the vice-president of the Union parliamentary group, Nadine Schön. She asked for more moderate language. “Otherwise, you will only generate expectations that you will not be able to fulfill,” said Schön in the direction of the traffic light government.

The accusation that the traffic light government was neglecting children's education also came from the Union faction. “When you build a house, you can't build the wall first. The foundation comes first,” said Silvia Breher (CDU). The traffic light representatives responded and described the initial opportunities program as part of a broader educational strategy, which also includes, among other things, the Kita Quality Act and the legal right to full education.-nursery.

Nicole Gohlke of the left-wing group called the federal-state initiative a “wasted opportunity.” It is inexcusable that such a rich, democratic society still transmits educational biographies. In her speech on Thursday she also criticized the fact that only part of the money is distributed according to a social index.