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Sudden agreement: Starting opportunities program for schools in troubled areas is coming

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The federal states have agreed on the internal distribution of the long-discussed “education billion” for 4,000 schools in socially disadvantaged locations. According to this, 950 million euros of the so-called starting opportunity program are to flow to the 16 countries according to their number of students.

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The remaining 50 million euros will go specifically to those countries that have a disproportionately high number of students in precarious social situations. These include above all Berlin, Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia. The billion is expected to flow from 2024 to 2034, i.e. spread over ten years.

It is still unclear how much money will reach the individual states, as key points of the program still have to be agreed with the federal government. The federal government had asked the states to raise their own funds and thus supplement its program. However, the federal states object that they themselves are already financing their own focal point programs and special measures for schools in precarious locations.

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Therefore, they did not want to commit themselves to a country contribution at their meeting on Friday. In any case, they agree that the funding should not be distributed “with a watering can”. Rather, those countries that have more students in precarious situations should receive more money. That is why the federal states advocate not distributing the money exclusively in line with the total number of students.


Million Euros should be distributed according to the social structure of the countries.

The education ministers have not yet been able to say how many million euros will arrive in each of the 16 federal states. As an example, however, it was stated that countries such as Bremen with a particularly large number of students in disadvantaged locations should receive up to 25 percent more money from the 50 million “solidarity fund”. Hamburg’s education senator Ties Rabe (SPD) added that Bremen has five times more students in precarious situations than the better-off states.

Berlin can count on around 60 million euros

Hamburg has already presented a model calculation on its own behalf: Ties Rabe assumes that his state will receive a total of at least 26 million euros over the next ten years. After a marathon of negotiations over the whole week “including an education summit, a call from the chancellor, 17 official appointments alone and a night with Excel spreadsheets”, Rabe made the breakthrough “and got through all 16 federal states,” according to his spokesman.

In purely mathematical terms, Berlin could – roughly estimated – expect around 60 million euros spread over ten years. The federal government must now ensure implementation, demanded the President of the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK), Berlin’s Senator for Education, Astrid-Sabine Busse (SPD).

It is now up to the federal government to react and, above all, to communicate how much money and when it will make it available.

Alexander Lorz (CDU), Education Minister of Hesse

For the CDU states, the Hessian Minister of Education Alexander Lorz praised the fact that the states now have “key points” for the implementation of the start opportunities program – both in terms of content and with regard to the distribution of funds. Now it is up to the federal government “to act on it and, above all, to communicate how much money and when it will make it available.”

It is a good signal that the countries are willing to change the way the funds are distributed.

Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP), Federal Minister of Education

It is “a good signal that the federal states are ready for a different key in the distribution of funds,” said a spokesman for Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) on Friday. The minister has repeatedly emphasized that the “watering can principle must be a thing of the past”.

The money should start flowing in 2024

The traffic light had already announced the starting opportunity program in the coalition agreement. In the coalition negotiations, a good two billion euros had been budgeted internally for this. The last status was that the federal government only wants to finance one billion of them – this is the “education billion” announced by Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP).

Minister of Education Stark-Watzinger later announced that this should be used entirely for the start opportunities program. According to their ideas, the countries should raise the other billion, which had led to displeasure among them.

The whole package and in particular the distribution key had been wrestled with until the very end. Only recently it looked as if an agreement could take months, especially since the mood after the unsuccessful “education summit” was at zero.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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