Opening doors to a self-determined life
An education system which offers opportunities for everyone is the foundation of Green education policy. Education is the basis of social participation. It opens up access to work and independent livelihood security. It is the prerequisite for the individual's full development into a mature and responsible citizen. In today's rapidly changing knowledge society, lifelong learning has an increasingly important role to play, so we Greens believe that everyone should have ongoing opportunities for learning, right from the start. Background, parents' financial position, age and gender should not limit this right to education. This is the vision which guides all aspects of our education policy model.
In early childhood education, children should have a legal entitlement, from the first year of life, to a full-time high-quality nursery place. We intend to progressively remove the barriers to access created by the requirement for parental contributions.
We want a nationwide system of genuine all-day schools by 2020. They are the centrepiece of an education system whose core principles are equal opportunities and integration.
In schools, children from all backgrounds should learn together for longer. Combined with individual support, this ultimately benefits all children.
We want to radically overhaul the vocational training system and make it future-proof. Within the occupational profiles, training should be divided into modules which build on each other and are recognised on a cross-occupational and transnational basis. This offers various benefits. It will enable more companies to offer training. It will enable more young people to find a training place. And every step in the training process will lead to the next. We also want to establish inter-company training facilities as a third place of learning alongside the vocational colleges and companies. This will create additional training places, particularly benefiting small companies. Because more young people can then enter training, we can streamline the current plethora of training schemes, which is expensive and complex. Due to the current lack of proper training places, many young people are spending this important part of their lives in pointless training schemes which fail to equip them with any useful skills.
In our higher education policy, we have two objectives. Firstly, we want far more young people to have the chance to enter higher education than at present. Secondly, we want to end the social selection that closes the door to higher education for some young people. As our pledge to students, we intend to offer good conditions in which to study as well as apprenticeships, instead of under-funded higher education pacts and enrolment limits at the local level, which block their way into higher education. Green student financing is a progressive model which takes greater account of social and financial inequalities than the current approach. The conservative-liberal coalition government's Deutschland-Stipendium (Germany Grant) for supposedly more gifted students is the wrong approach. Under this scheme, public funding is spent on a small number of individuals, and due to social impermeability in the German education system, most of them will already come from privileged backgrounds. It will not offer more people opportunities for educational advancement – in other words, the genuine equality of opportunity that is so urgently needed.
We want to provide consistent support for lifelong learning and firmly establish continuing education as the fourth pillar of our education system. A wide-ranging Adult Education Funding Act should be adopted as the legal basis for this process.
When it comes to education spending, Germany has featured in the mid to lower ranks of the international league tables for years. Our aim is to ensure that 7 per cent of annual GDP is invested in education. With our solidarity-based education levy, the Bildungssoli , we offer a practical model to achieve this target.
And finally, we want to correct the cardinal error made in the Grand Coalition's federalism reforms : the ban on cooperation between the Federal Government and the Länder – Germany's federal states – in the education sector has not only stalled the development of a system of all-day schools. The "education package" unveiled by the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs demonstrates the contortions that are needed, as a result of this ban on cooperation, for the Federal Government to be able to make its contribution to good educational opportunities for everyone. The Greens at federal and state level will work together to overturn this ban.