Study Bertelsmann: the quality of the nursery school is increasing, but immense differences still exist




Changing diapers, helping with handicrafts, drying tears: in a nursery in Baden-Württemberg, these tasks take over a specialist for 3.1 children, purely mathematically. The colleague in Saxony, on the other hand, gives 6.4 children – a flagrant difference.

How well the Kita quality measured with the personnel key is still strongly dependent on the place of residence in Germany. This is proven by the "Country Monitor for Early Childhood Education Systems", which the Bertelsmann Foundation presents this Tuesday. The conclusion of her board member Jörg Dräger: "Although the quality of childcare has improved nationally, the gap between East and West Germany has remained." There is not enough progress in many regions.

According to the study, the staff key in crèches has not improved since 11 years in eleven states. The number of supervised minors has increased significantly, as many parents, employers and politicians had wished for. More than 760,000 babies are now going to a nursery nationwide. That is every third child under the age of three.

The "country monitor" is updated annually and is based on official statistics. The deadline for the most recent survey was 1 March 2017.

The results at a glance:

  • The number of nursery staff has improved on a national average: in 2012 one specialist provided an average of 4.8 children, now there are 4.3 children per caregiver.
  • Also in kindergartens educators need to care for fewer children: on average one child carer receives 9.1 children, in 2012 there were 9.8.
  • In 2014, 17 percent of nurseries reported that they did not have time for leadership tasks. In 2017 there were only 11% left over.
  • In Germany, more and more children under the age of three are being cared for in kindergartens. The number increased by more than 36 percent within five years.

Despite these improvements, according to the study, there are still "immense quality differences" within Germany, especially in the comparison of East and West.

  • In East German cribs, each educator is responsible for an average of 6.0 children, only in West German cribs for 3.6. A similar gap existed five years earlier: at that time there were on average 6.4 children in East Germany and 3.9 in the West.
  • The situation in kindergartens does not look any different: while 12.8 children in East Germany came to a specialist in 2012, there were 9.2 children in West Germany. Five years later there is almost the same difference: in the east, 11.9 children each attend and 8.4 in the west.
  • But even within individual federal states there are major differences in the personnel key, for example in Rhineland-Palatinate. In Altenkirchen, a crèche unit is responsible for an average of 2.8 children, in Landau for 4.5.
  • In some federal states, care develops much better than in others: Baden-Württemberg has been the national leader in the personnel key since 2014, both in crèches (an educator for 3.1 children) and kindergartens (an educator for 7.1 children). In Saxony, the personnel key in kindergartens and kindergartens remained virtually unchanged for years. Rural lagging behind the reception of pre-school children since 2012 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (educator for 13.4 children).

This is what the care in the neighborhoods looks like

In the light of the results, Bertasmann board member Dräger criticizes the draft of the federal government for a so-called law on good Kita. The law is expected to come into effect in early 2019, to ensure that caregivers become better in Kitas, parents are exempted from fees and trainers are better qualified. 5.5 billion euros will flow from the federal government before 2022.

Dräger complains that the concept does not define national standards. Moreover, the currently planned division of federal funds does not take into account the number of children in the provinces in both cases. Countries with many children in nurseries and childcare would be disadvantaged, traditionally this applies in the east of Germany. In general, funds are too tight and financial commitments must be made in the longer term.

According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, € 8.7 billion is needed every year to support the high-quality extension of day nurseries. The basis for the calculations is, among other things, the assumption that there must be a staff ratio of 1 to 3 for preschool-based pre-school education in nurseries and 1 to 7.5 for kindergartens.


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