Why isn't everyone trying to fight poverty?
Poverty in Germany : Fighting causes, not symptoms
The current poverty report by the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband paints an unfriendly picture of Germany. 12.5 million people are considered poor. They have less than 60 percent of the median income in our society. These include 3.4 million retirees and around 2.5 million children. People with a migration background are also disproportionately affected by poverty.
That sounds bad. And so, as in previous years, the authors reflexively demand more money. Higher pensions, higher standard rates in the basic security, more social assistance, more child benefit. Regardless of where the money is supposed to come from, it's the wrong approach. Because that's how you treat symptoms, not causes.
Now the causes of poverty are manifold. So diverse that there is no magic formula for combating them. In Germany, however, two factors can be identified that can actually be influenced with a reasonable amount of effort and are also directly linked to one another: children and low education.
Three measures that can already be implemented today can help.
1. Better child care
The fact that children are at risk of poverty is as little new as it is shameful for our society. The poverty report shows that the 2.7 million single parents are particularly affected. 41.9 percent of them are considered poor. This group could be helped: With adequate childcare. Just one number: Among the Hartz IV recipients are around 500,000 single parents who can and also want to work, but who do not do so because the children are not properly cared for. Not only is there a lack of (affordable) places in day-care centers, there is also a lack of childcare times, including on weekends, early in the morning and late in the evening. Just think of retail and hospitality workers who work on weekends and late into the evening, or shift workers.
All-day school also plays an important role for parents - whether they are single parents or not - when it comes to the question of which career paths they can pursue. And this is not the only positive aspect of this type of school: Experience - for example from the largest German school competition "Strong School" of the non-profit Hertie Foundation - suggest that all-day care leads to more capable young people who better connect with training and work Find.
From the community
... writes user prophetohnevolk
Better approaches would be, on the one hand, better pay for the lower income brackets, the possibility of part-time work and, in particular, social housing, which is responsible for a mix of income
layers ensures. The increasing segregation by income acts as the strongest catalyst for unequal educational opportunities.
2. More all-day schools
This brings us to the second major risk of poverty: a lack of education and qualifications. Why does it still exist? How is that possible after decades of prosperity, growth and development in the education system as well? On the one hand, people in Germany have been complaining about poor equal opportunities for years. What the cumbersome term means: Those who come from a well-educated family are more likely to be well educated, those who come from a poorly educated family have little prospect of better education and thus social advancement. Stigmatization undoubtedly leads to this phenomenon, but what also seems to be missing is the perhaps old-fashioned attitude of parents: "My children should have a better life than me."
But that's not all. The schools today are overwhelmed as a system. They should teach basic knowledge, promote talents and skills, convey values, prepare for everyday life, include, integrate and so on. That's impossible five mornings a week. Where everything should succeed at once, less and less succeed. The result: Annoyed students, burned-out teachers. A vicious circle.
Only the all-day school creates the time frame to be able to cope with all tasks. Also the individual support of students up to the targeted promotion to higher degrees. There is no shortage of good concepts. This includes, above all, the support of young people with a migration background, of whom far too few are still striving for a higher degree.
3. A new alliance between parents, educators and teachers
However, good childcare in day-care centers and a good school cannot flourish without the children's parents. The parents must motivate and support the children and at the same time support the principles and concepts of the educators and teachers. However, the involvement of parents beyond a parents' evening is usually viewed critically. Because a common understanding is difficult, the spectrum ranges from “helicopter parents” who accompany their child into the classroom and discuss every grade with the teacher, to completely disinterested fathers and mothers. What is therefore necessary is a “new alliance” between families, educators and teachers, with clear rules and binding target agreements.
Yes, it all costs money. And the staff required for day-care centers and schools does not grow on trees. The measures for strengthened education and a better work-life balance must be seen as an investment in the future. They reduce unemployment, ensure growth, prosperity and competitiveness. Poverty is then an issue, at least for fewer people in Germany.
The author is Managing Director of the non-profit Hertie Foundation.
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