The promise of being able to offer all-day care to every first-grader from 2026 and then to every primary school pupil from the first to fourth grade from 2030 is in danger of failing: in most western German states, schools are foreseeably far from being able to claim the legal right to child care due to the shortage of skilled workers eight hours of full-time care.
And in the eastern German states, where there are already many more after-school care places, the care ratio is often so bad that there can be no question of individual support for the children. This is shown by the Bertelsmann Foundation’s new “Specialist Radar for day-care centers and primary schools 2022”.
The calculations of the education experts show such a serious shortage of specialist staff that the legal entitlement from 2030 is likely to be largely unfulfilled. Accordingly, in the next eight years there will be a shortage of more than 100,000 specialists for good all-day support for primary school children. “At least in the West, I don’t see a chance that all primary school students will be in the system by 2030,” said Bertelsmann education expert Kathrin Bock-Famulla WELT. The skilled workers offensive was “delayed” by politicians, and the foreseeable shortage was addressed more than ten years ago.
But instead of reforming and standardizing the training system for educators, there is often not even a training allowance. Not good conditions for getting young people excited about the educational professions. Conversely, however, the demand for school-based care is likely to continue to rise. “Parents are used to their child being cared for in the daycare center and have geared their professional lives to it,” said Bock-Famulla. “Why would you suddenly leave your child at home?”
For their calculations, the experts at the Bertelsmann Foundation first looked at the initial situation in the federal states. According to this, the eastern German federal states already fulfill the legal entitlement to all-day care for the majority of primary school children. On average, 83 percent of the children use an all-day offer and 3.5 percent an over-lunch offer until about half past two in the afternoon. Based on this high development standard, the east German federal states could, according to the calculations, offer every child a place by the end of the decade.
However, the staff-student ratio here is far worse than in the West. While the after-school care centers in western Germany have a staff ratio of one to six, in the east it is one to fourteen. A full-time specialist in eastern Germany therefore has to look after more than twice as many children as in a western German after-school center. And since this is a purely arithmetic figure, the true support ratio is much less favorable, Bock-Famulla clarified. “Then it’s often just about supervision.” In order to improve the quality and the care situation, 26,000 additional specialists would have to be hired in the East.
The situation is even more complex in western Germany. So far, only 47 percent of elementary school students attend an all-day offer and 18 percent attend an afternoon offer. If you want to offer all children an all-day offer, an additional million places would have to be created. “This requires around 76,000 more specialists than will be available by then,” writes the foundation. In East and West together, more than 100,000 additional skilled workers would be needed.
More favorable scenarios were also calculated. If not all, but only around 86 percent of the children in the east take advantage of after-school care, the need for skilled workers is reduced to 18,000 in the east and 55,000 in the west. If some of the children continue to only take advantage of the short afternoon care, 34,000 additional workers would be sufficient in the west and 18,000 in the east. Even in the best-case scenario with low take-up, significantly more skilled workers would be needed than the 37,000 who, according to the forecast, will enter the labor market by 2030.
However, the Bertelsmann Foundation points out that the data basis for these calculations is incomplete and inconsistent. This makes it difficult to take a comprehensive inventory. Nevertheless, the scenarios clearly showed that the implementation of the legal entitlement could only be managed with a significantly increased supply of skilled workers, said Anette Stein, director of the foundation’s “Education and Next Generation” program. “Therefore, the federal states, together with all those responsible, must take differentiated measures now to prevent the increasing shortage of staff in primary schools and after-school care centers.”
With a view to the results of the first edition of the Skilled Labor Radar from August 2021, the dimensions of the staff shortage are even greater, the foundation warns. Accordingly, around 230,000 pedagogical employees will also be missing in the daycare sector by 2030.
In order for the legal entitlement to an all-day place to go hand in hand with educational opportunities, sufficient and well-qualified educational staff are required, Stein warned. “The lever for this is a long-term specialist offensive by the federal and state governments.” For this, politicians must now create the legal framework, sufficient training capacities and incentives for entering the professional field.
The IQB education trend of the Conference of Ministers of Education recently showed how important it is to give really intensive support to children who have just been left behind, instead of just keeping them at school in the afternoon. According to this, every fifth child now fails to meet the minimum standards in German and mathematics.
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