Germany faces legal hurdles to implement 5-bln-euro program to digitalize schools

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-04 23:10:20|Editor: yan
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BERLIN, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) is pushing for German government's plans for digitizing schools, Helmut Holter, president of the KMK told the German press agency (dpa) on Tuesday.

The so-called digital pact, a nationwide support program for the digitization of schools in Germany, is currently negotiated by the federal states and the national government which intends to invest around 5 billion euros (5.7 billion U.S. dollars) in modernizing technology in schools from 2019 onwards.

According to a Bertelsmann study, 2.8 billion euros would be needed annually if all primary and secondary schools in Germany were to be provided with educational computer technology. "Of course, you can argue about whether 5 billion euros in the context of the digital pact are sufficient at all," Ulrich Kober, education expert at the Bertelsmann foundation, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

However, German law only allows financial support to individual states by the government if the funds are used for statewide educational projects in financially weak communities. In order to allow the planned financial support to state schools, the federal government in Germany is in the process of making the necessary legal changes to the German law.

As the digital pact will require federal states to contribute the same amount of money to the government's subsidies from their own resources from 2020 onwards, the plans have been criticized by some states.

Last Sunday, the ministers of the federal states of Hesse, Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg complained in an article in the newspaper FAS that the planned amendment of the law would be problematic for financially weak states and would curtail state autonomy in budgetary matters.

The federal council in which all states of Germany are represented will vote on the change of the law on Thursday, but Kober warns that "it would be understandable that the federal states do not simply want to accept this decision."