Education: KMK President: Countries need clarity about the digital pact

Education: KMK President: Countries need clarity about the digital pact

Digitalization in schools is stalling. The digital pact between the federal and state governments has expired, and now there is a dispute over money. There is no end to the haggling in sight.

In the dispute over the continuation of the billion-dollar funding program for the digitalization of schools, the states are urging the federal government to give in quickly. “Unfortunately, we don’t know at the moment how much the federal government wants to contribute to the program in the future. And that actually makes us unable to act,” said the President of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK), the Saarland department head Christine Streichert-Clivot (SPD), the German Press Agency in Saarbrücken.

Since 2019, the federal government has contributed 6.5 billion euros to the first digital pact, which expired in mid-May. With this he financed 90 percent of the expenses for digitization in schools. The remaining ten percent was borne by states and municipalities.

The states are demanding 1.3 billion euros per year from the federal government for the new edition of the five-year funding in the Digital Pact 2.0. “The federal government is now assuming that there is 50:50 financing,” said the Saarland minister. “However, the federal government made this decision alone.” In view of the federal government’s tense budget situation, it is based on a requirement from the Ministry of Finance, but places excessive demands on the states. The promises that the states received from the federal government at the beginning of the year have now essentially been withdrawn.

The digital world will have a massive impact on the world of work and coexistence in the future. “And we have to prepare children for it,” said the minister. The financial situation of the states and municipalities definitely plays a role. “In my opinion, the federal government also has the task of having a balancing effect here. In this respect, it is not just about educational issues. But about infrastructure issues that affect the entire Federal Republic.”

The SPD politician pointed out that the states could no longer make investment decisions as long as it was not clear what would happen next. The state share would have to be planned into the respective budgets. “But we’ll only make progress when we know what the digital pact really entails. At the moment we’re all stuck there.”

Material such as laptops or digital boards would have to be replaced, changes in content would also be necessary – and, above all, staff must be retained: “I have to be able to plan and anticipate that I will need certain work.”

“The budget situation is tense in the federal government. It is not rosy in the states and certainly not in the municipalities,” said the minister. “And that’s why we have to discuss it together: What options do all sides have and how can we get this off the ground?”

She doesn’t see any major problems with the content. The technical infrastructure in schools has been massively improved in recent years. These structures must be financially secured in the long term. “The issue of funding levels is definitely one that concerns me at the moment.”

In June, the SPD politician wants to make the digital pact a topic again at the KMK conference in Saarland. The federal budget planning states that the next step will be taken at the beginning of July. “Our hope on the state side is of course that there is a house number on the table that we can work with. But that is not the case at the moment.”

Source: Stern

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