Publicly-Financed Remedial Tutoring in Germany

[Due to recent travel, I haven’t been posting as actively as in previous months]

I am – by now – fairly certain that supplementary education is on the rise globally. This sense seems to be shared by a large number of the members of the emerging scholar community focused on supplementary education.

However, in some countries, this rise is clearly beginning from a very small base. Most of Europe (save some Southern European exceptions, Portugal, Malta, Greece, but also Turkey) would be in this category where supplementary education largely exists in the form of individual private tutoring. While this sector has been corporatizing since the 1990s with some real corporate education giants emerging, and is becoming more and more visible in cityscapes and advertising, there is no large-scale take up.

Some of the growth has been if not fueled, at least hastened or reinforced by public policies. France is thus a longtime exception in that it offers tax credits for supplementary education expenses.

Germany now seems to be following in the footsteps of the U.S. by offering some public subsidies for remedial tutoring. Unlike in the U.S. where eligibility for such funds is rooted in the consistent under-performance of schools, the emerging German model ties the funding to the income/welfare status of students’ parents. The promise of available funds has thus come as a part of the package of welfare reforms commonly described as Hartz IV. A subsidy of €10 per month per child has been mentioned. A quick check of some websites of German tutoring services suggests that this may pay for a single instructional session once a week, if that session is part of a larger package.

However, these subsidies are currently not formally on offer but have to be specifically applied for. Uptake seems to be very limited.

The proposed subsidy is also unusual in that it would suggest (to my eye anyway) federal involvement in education, a big constitutional no-no in Germany, through the welfare back door.

If this subsidy were to become more common, it would be a step toward a public policy that addresses the equity concerns often associated with supplementary education. At the same time, the current discussions offer no insights on the selection of tutoring services where this subsidy could be spent, nor age or subject ranges that would be eligible.

One response to “Publicly-Financed Remedial Tutoring in Germany

  1. Berlin daily “Der Tagesspiegel” reported further on the funding available for supplementary education through welfare payments today, see http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/bildungspaket-viel-angebot-wenig-nachfrage/4334198.html

    The article offers a prognosis of very limited uptake, partly due to the small amount available (along with subsidies for club dues, piano lessons, etc.), but also due to the complicated procedure necessary to apply for these funds.

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