Germany, equipped with laptops by the end of the year?

Teachers should quickly receive laptops or tablets for digital lessons. The federal government is making half a billion euros available to the federal states for this purpose.

The federal government had already promised quick support for teachers in the corona pandemic at an education summit in the Chancellery in August. At the end of November, the federal and state governments finally agreed on an additional agreement within the framework of the digital pact for schools – 500 million euros were to be made available for teacher’s laptops alone.

How bureaucracy slows down purchases

With this report, there are many school head and administrators who were not impressed. Relying on fed government decisions such as financing takes too long to become available and useful. There were even other schools who have to rely on their own school budget in order to provide laptops and tablets for their teachers. Purchase were carefully chosen, considering laptops under $700 or cheaper for general school use. A tedious and lengthy undertaking, because the budget is tight and has to cover all expenses for the school.

Because schools cannot simply apply for the necessary hardware themselves. They report their needs to the respective school authorities, who are responsible for equipping the schools. In the case of public schools, these are usually the cities and municipalities or the rural districts, in Berlin it is the district. The school authorities then usually bundle the reports from their schools and submit them to the state. In addition to organizing the devices, you also have to set up, distribute and later maintain them.

Too many in homeschooling – online learning platforms are crashing

For most of the schoolchildren in Germany, it is time for homeschooling again. Just in time for the start of the lockdown, numerous online learning platforms collapsed in many federal states due to the rush.

These are all costly factors that complicate the process. If equipment is to be procured on a large scale, Europe-wide tenders are also required, which can take a few months.

In addition, the federal states determine in their own funding guidelines how the public funds are to be spent. Every country does this at its own pace, and by no means every country has already adopted such a directive. But only then can the devices be ordered. In addition, there are delivery bottlenecks at the manufacturers: Due to the current high demand, the delivery times for laptops and tablets sometimes amount to several months.

Time is of the essence: According to the Berlin Senate Department for Education, 36,000 teachers need a service device in the capital alone. So far, however, not a single device has been ordered under the new agreement. In many federal states, it looks similarly poor.

The Association of Education and Upbringing (VBE) informed WELT that most of the schools in its 16 regional associations had not yet received any service laptops. Wherever they exist, “the quota is sobering and in many cases is still below ten percent,” says Udo Beckman, Federal Chairman of the VBE.