Sputnik has discussed this with Dr. Menno Aden, Professor of Law at the University of Applied Sciences in Essen.
Sputnik: Can you tell us about the situation with schools being underfunded according to this most recent report?
Dr. Menno Aden: The leading German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine, reports that €48 billion are needed for the reconstruction of our schools. Several German statistical offices report a number of 11 million pupils for the school year of 2017-2018. So this would amount to €4,000 for each pupil.
So it is easy to be seen that this figure must be somehow politically motivated; the background of all this play with numbers is that Germany is currently doing very well financially. I feel that it must be taken into account that these figures are also politically motivated, but apart from this, the following can be said: I'm a member of the City Council of Essen and we have recently taken an initiative here to improve the school toilets. The toilets are in a very, very deplorable condition; in a condition which you would not expect in our country. So something has to be done.
Sputnik: What are the facts behind that?
Dr. Menno Aden: Well, when I said politically motivated, it means if you have a pot of money everybody wants to get a share of it. So I feel that, irrespective of the basic needs which are there, everybody seems to be getting greedy and saying this is the time where we could ask for more. The problem is that Germany does not have many resources. All important mineral and natural resources are outside the German borders. The only thing we have is education. If we let our educational system degenerate, as it has done for decades, Germany will lose its economic strength. The only chance for Germany seems to be that other states are even more careless in their educational system and policies than we are.
Sputnik: So can you tell us please what you feel are the main reasons that schools are underfunded despite budget surpluses?
Dr. Menno Aden: Obviously, we have rested on our past successes. The German revival after the Second World War was done by people who had a solid education, for which Germany was also famous. At that time we still had teachers and professors who had enjoyed a solid education and had a sound sense of work ethic. I'm afraid this has gone down a little bit. The political struggle for the distribution of money, which can never satisfy all needs, modem politicians care for their voters and not so much for the future of the people and the state, rarely look beyond the next election date.
Sputnik: How currently is the budget distribution to educational institutions regulated in Germany?
Dr. Menno Aden: Schools and universities, and educational institutions basically are the responsibility of our provinces. This means the federal states. The federal government has only a few educational institutions, although they finance ten projects in universities, but these are project financing, not the universities and institutions as such. To put it bluntly, federal states with rightist, conservative governments are doing well. Federal states in Germany with a left orientated provincial government are constantly falling back despite all the money they get. So money is not the only question, not the only problem, it is a little bit of a political question of what do we want to achieve.
Sputnik: It's actually been noted by some experts that the budget compilation may be a linked to migrant integration programs in the country, what are your thoughts on that?
Dr. Menno Aden: Not maybe. It is obvious that part of our government's education misery is related to the fact of migration. In my city of Essen, and this is not the only case, there are school classes with 90% of children of non-German-speaking families. These people, these children are not able to keep up with the normal standards in other schools in Germany and so these are falling back. Now, for political reasons, this has been camouflaged for many years.
The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Menno Aden are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.