Why we now need more kindergarten teachers in Thuringia
A new daycare law is currently being discussed in Thuringia. Strictly speaking about the "Draft Law on the Education, Upbringing and Care of Children in day care centers and in day care as an implementing law to the Social Code – Eighth Book ".
Pretty bulky title, or?
There are many demands and interests in the room. The state government absolutely wants to fulfill its campaign promise of a non-contributory kindergarten year. A topic that I am very ambivalent about.
Free of charge or not. That is the question.
On the one hand, a daycare center is an educational offer. And from the perspective of the AWO, education should always be available to everyone free of charge. The complete freedom to pay contributions from daycare centers is therefore an important and long-term goal of the AWO. On the other hand, the budgetary limits are difficult to overlook. The non-contributory last day of kindergarten, as it is now planned, costs 26 million euros annually. According to information from the Thuringian Ministry of Education, a non-contributory first kindergarten year would have cost EUR 77 million a year.
The Thuringian parents are now relieved of this sum. It’s good. It is the higher earners who benefit most. For low-income parents, the youth welfare office already pays all or part of the parents’ contributions. Many municipalities also stagger the parents’ contributions according to their parental income: those who earn well also pay more. And turned around. That of all things a red-red-green state government makes gifts to better earners, who would have thought.
The personnel key should not improve
In my view, the money would be much better invested in more educators. But of all the personnel keys, the new law should not be changed compared to the existing day care law. This is bad. And there is too little public discussion.
The annual education report of the Bertelsmann Stiftung certifies the Free State of Thuringia a personnel key in the lower middle of the German federal states. The foundation recommends raising the personnel key to 1: 7.5 (from the current 1: 11.4) in the kindergarten area and to 1: 3 from the current (1: 5.3) in the crèche area.
That would mean according to calculations the Foundation however, 4,706 additional nursery school teachers and 3,427 additional kindergarten teachers for Thuringia alone. Estimated additional costs: 376 million euros per year. It is clear why the state government does not or cannot follow this recommendation.
Graphics: own illustration. Figures: Bertelsmann Foundation
So all utopia? Not at all.
Every additional digit counts.
Every little improvement in the personnel key would noticeably increase the quality of care in the daycare centers and ensure better working conditions in the daycare centers.
We experience it every day in practice. This is also repeatedly confirmed by employees in employee surveys carried out by AWO daycare providers.
The educators often find the framework conditions to be insufficient. Inadequate personnel keys often require large groups with a corresponding noise level. In addition, there is an increasing need for individual support, more demanding parents and the integration of children with a migration background as well as the implementation of inclusion of children with a disability.
In their comments on the amendment to the day-care center law, the Thuringian welfare associations consequently call for more teachers in the Thuringian daycare centers. This attitude is also supported by the recently published interim report of the federal-state conference "Developing early education and securing it financially", in which the Free State of Thuringia was also involved.
When calculating the personnel key, a downtime of 15 percent is currently factored in. Much too little. In fact, according to calculations by the LIGA associations, downtime is 12 percent for vacation, 6 percent for sick leave and 2 percent for training. So a total of 20 percent downtime.
Due to the increased risk of infection, educators are also sick more often than the average number of employees. However, this is not correctly factored into the calculation of personnel keys.
If an additional 10 percent is taken into account for work outside the group, i.e. parent talks, preparations, documentation, quality management and conceptual work, which are also required in the Thuringian education plan, 30 percent of total downtime must actually be taken as a basis.
The shortage of staff, especially during vacation or illnesses, such as the current flu epidemic, is one of the most important criteria for overworking educators. The draft law consciously accepts that the day care centers work “for wear”. Which in turn leads to an increased rate of illness and emigration to other federal states or other professions. A downward spiral. As a result, nobody has to be surprised about a shortage of qualified specialists.
Deadline regulation as an additional problem
Another major problem is the existing cut-off date regulation: the daycare staff key is currently calculated on cut-off dates. If there are fewer children in the daycare center shortly after school entry in September, fewer staff have to be kept available. Logically, or?
For the educators, however, this usually means less hours and thus lower wages. In addition, it is completely ignored that the groups are not full during this time, but there are above average many small children in the familiarization period, which means a significantly higher effort. A personnel key calculation based on the annual average of the registered children would therefore relieve the teachers in their work, enable more employee-friendly employment contracts and also minimize the administrative effort.
However, all of this is hardly discussed in the general public and would be so important to ensure and improve good care in the Thuringian daycare centers. The 26 million euros of the non-contributory day-care center year would definitely have been well spent in more educators. Many parents would certainly see it that way too. Because studies by the Bertelsmann Foundation also show that many parents would even be willing to pay more money for better daycare. I think the state government should think about that. In any case, we will demand that in the further debate.
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