Schools should give free equipment to everyone

Immediate equipment program : How do tablets and laptops get to the children?

Distance learning will continue in the new school year. At the moment, it is not yet possible to foresee when classes in schools will be able to fully resume. However, not every child has a digital device to take part in video lessons and to work on online tasks. For this reason, the coalition committee decided on an immediate equipment program at the end of April to equip all pupils in need accordingly.

The new program is an additional agreement to the School Digital Pact. At a joint press conference in mid-May, Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) and the Chairwoman of the Conference of Education Ministers and Education Minister for Rhineland-Palatinate, Stefanie Hubig (SPD), announced details on the implementation of the program. According to the Königstein key, the 500 million euros will be distributed among the federal states and topped up by them with a ten percent contribution. Thus, 550 million euros should be available for the equipment. Some federal states have announced that they will additionally increase their share through state funds.

The immediate equipping program requires schools to set criteria

The money is not - as originally intended - paid out directly to the entitled families, but the school authorities and schools are responsible for the procurement of the equipment. “Schools are best able to judge according to which social criteria, but also according to which pedagogical requirements the devices should be used. And that's why the schools themselves should define the criteria and the distribution of the devices to the pupils, ”said Anja Karliczek at the press conference. Stefanie Hubig also promised quick and unbureaucratic help when presenting the immediate program: "We will now ensure on site that the money gets quickly to where it can be converted into digital devices."

It is planned that the tablets or laptops will remain in the possession of the schools and be loaned to the relevant students. However, Hubig and Karliczek have not yet been able to name a point in time when the devices for distance learning will be available. Since the summer vacation starts at the end of June in some federal states, it will probably not be until the next school year. It must also be clarified how to ensure that all children also have a network connection. The federal education minister promised that the federal government would work out solutions with mobile phone providers in consultation with the federal states.

The School portal has asked in some federal states which details are already known about the immediate equipment program and its implementation.

Baden-Wuerttemberg

According to the Königstein key, Baden-Württemberg receives 65 million euros from the immediate equipment program. The state wants to double the amount with state funds to a total of 130 million euros. "It shouldn't be that a child in Baden-Württemberg is disadvantaged because they don't have a laptop," said Education Minister Susanne Eisenmann (CDU). She estimates that the country can use the 130 million euros to provide around 300,000 devices. This would cover around 20 percent of the students in Baden-Württemberg. The money is also to be used to finance the technical programs and appropriate training for teachers. "Because it is important that laptops, tablets and the like are not only available, but are also used in an educational manner," says Eisenmann.

The Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs is working with the Center for School Quality and Teacher Training to develop a concept, and the additional funds still need to be decided in the supplementary budget. However, the first preliminary talks on implementation are already underway with the municipal state associations and the Free Schools Working Group. The money should then be made available to the school authorities, who are also responsible for purchasing the equipment. When asked by the Ministry of Culture, they know best which devices fit into the respective school concept and how great the need is at the school.

The schools should then lend the devices to the children and young people. There are no details yet about the specific schedule. "As soon as possible," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture School portal.

Hamburg

The Hanseatic city wants to order 25,000 tablets and laptops for schoolchildren. 18,000 could be financed with the federal funds of 12.8 million euros from the immediate equipment program. In addition, the city-state wants to finance further devices from state funds. The procurement should run centrally through the school authorities. The devices should be equipped with uniform software. The schools then organize the loan to the children and young people and the maintenance of the equipment. A “significant proportion” of the digital devices should be available to the students at the beginning of the new school year, according to a statement from the school authorities.

Lower Saxony

Lower Saxony receives 47 million euros from the immediate equipment program for the purchase of school-related mobile devices. "The program is not the end, but a good start," said Lower Saxony's Minister of Education, Grant Hendrik Tonne (SPD) last week. Here, too, the municipal and private school authorities are responsible for the procurement of tablets, notebooks or laptops. The devices are then made available on loan to the students who need it. In the Corona crisis, the acquisition of mobile devices from the School Digital Pact was simplified. This means that school authorities can currently obtain mobile digital devices more quickly, according to a message from the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs.

Rhineland-Palatinate

Rhineland-Palatinate receives 24 million euros from the immediate equipment program. With this money, the schools and the school authorities procure laptops, notebooks and tablets that can be integrated into the existing infrastructure. In addition to this program, there are already measures in the state to equip schoolchildren with end devices via loan systems. “This includes the fact that the state and the municipal umbrella organizations have provided 25,000 laptops and 12,000 tablets,” said a spokeswoman for the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Education on request School portal With. In addition, there are also sponsoring associations at schools that reacted very quickly and bought loan equipment for their students on their own initiative.

The devices should primarily be given to schoolchildren who cannot fall back on the appropriate equipment at home. The decisive factor is whether there is a “special need to compensate for social imbalances that jeopardize the achievement of the teaching objectives,” says the Ministry of Education. The decision is made by the schools. The end devices are lent "for the time of the restricted school operations due to Corona".
The schedule stipulates that the devices arrive “as soon as possible” with the children and young people. The funds should be spent in 2020, according to the Ministry of Education.

Saxony

According to the Königstein key, schools in Saxony have around 25 million euros at their disposal from the immediate equipment program. The funds would be enough for 30,000 to 40,000 devices. With the devices already available, the country could equip more than every tenth child in school with a device. The Ministry of Culture considers this quota to be appropriate. As in the other federal states, the school authorities are responsible for the choice and procurement of the equipment. "The media education centers have a high level of expertise and advise", it says at the request of the School portals at the Ministry of Culture. The local schools decide which students will be given the equipment on loan. “The devices remain the property of the school sponsor and must be returned after the end of the loan period.

The Ministry of Education is aiming for a procedure that is as unbureaucratic as possible and for procurements in 2020 if possible, ”a spokeswoman said School portals. If the pupils do not have internet access, Saxony wants to find individual solutions “that can range from exchanging physical data carriers to mobile phone solutions to changing the place of study”.

Schleswig-Holstein

17 million euros flow from the immediate equipment program to Schleswig-Holstein. "With this we can take a decisive step further in the direction of learning with digital media and at the same time create more fairness in education," said Education Minister Karin Prien (CDU) last week. Schleswig-Holstein wants to increase the amount and provide an additional 15 million euros from state funds. A funding guideline for the implementation of the immediate program is in progress. When this has been decided, the money can go to the school authorities, who then organize procurement and distribution.