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Education ministers of the German Länder (regions) and the Bund (the state) convened on 22 October to discuss how to increase the quality of and the participation in the German education system. According to OECD data, Germany currently spends 5.1 percent of its gross domestic product on education. After the summit, Chancellor Merkel announced that - by 2010 - this quota should rise up to 10 percent.
If all that state and regions have decided at the summit was to come true, German schools would be better staffed, teachers better trained, high school drop-out rates reduced, and university professors would have more time for research and lectures. Obviously, these improvements can not be for free. In monetary terms, the 10 percent investment objective translates into a yearly spending of EUR 25 - 60 billion a year. Merkel specified that three percent of the new budget would go into research and seven percent should be invested in education. Where the money is to come from, however, she was not prepared to say. A “strategic group” will be asked to table concrete suggestions for the implementation of the goal.
Those familiar with the education competencies of the state and the regions will guess that the latter is fertile ground for political battle. In this light, it is understandable why the decision caused reactions in both extremes: some applauded it as a step in the right direction; others deemed it good publicity and a lot of hot air. Who is right, remains to be seen.