At exactly five past 12 a school bell was supposed to sound on the Schloßplatz in the center of Stuttgart – but the technology failed, which some participants took as a symbol of the educational crisis. At least a few minutes later he could be heard. Meanwhile, around 250 educators, parents and teachers chanted: “Raise your hands, turnaround in education.” Later, children, students, mothers and other demo participants take part in the daycare spot search game: As with the trip to Jerusalem, there are more players than chairs representing the daycare spots.

Just a funny game here, but there are actually around 3,000 daycare places missing in Stuttgart alone, which is why the eliminated players get a note stuck on their backs: 1 out of 3,000. The mood on the edge of the Schloßplatz is good, even if the speeches paint a gloomy picture from the educational institutions in the country. But the approximately 250 people encourage each other to get loud.

Germany is in one of the worst education crises since the founding of the Federal Republic, the alliance criticizes: Almost 50,000 young people left school in 2021 without a qualification, nationwide there will probably be a shortage of 160,000 teachers in the next twelve years, and daycare centers are already missing a hundred thousand places and 300,000 Educators.

Unfilled teaching positions result from an outdated education system. Many students see themselves as a problem, criticizes former school principal Corinna Heller. “And that is the biggest problem for me. We need people to change that in schools,” she demands. The demonstrators clap in agreement and whistles sound. A man holds up a poster: “We need to talk” it says.

The education alliance is calling for a special fund of at least one billion euros for investments in schools and daycare centers, a training offensive for teachers and educators, a revision of teacher training courses, better integration with practice and an education summit with the heads of government of the federal states in order to discuss To discuss ways out of the education crisis.

Luk Bornhak attended a special school. He should then take part in a vocational preparation measure for the first job market, the first offer for people with disabilities in Stuttgart. However: “They didn’t know how to deal with me,” he tells Stern in an interview. He was placed on the sidelines of the class and was supposed to work alone with Excel tables. The mentally handicapped young man had to leave his special school without any qualifications.

He is not alone in this. Almost 73 percent of special needs students leave school without a recognized qualification, he says in his speech on Schloßplatz. “This is the beginning of a chain of exclusion,” said Bornhak. Due to a lack of support, many of those affected have little chance of getting a job on the labor market and end up in a workshop for people with disabilities, where they earn an hourly wage of 1.35 euros. “That is not contemporary and never has been!” shouts Bornhak, the crowd applauds him. “We have to defend ourselves against this system.”

29-year-old Tim Wahl, who works in the management team at a Stuttgart daycare center, talks about his experience as an intern at another kindergarten: “I was the person who was there the longest during the day; the specialists were burnt out.” He now works in a daycare center that fortunately has enough staff. Otherwise he would have considered changing industries, Wahl reported on the sidelines of the event.

“The entire school system is on edge,” criticizes Nadine Candelaresi, 41. This school year, her two children have to study at home one afternoon a week, even though they attend a day school, but there is a lack of teachers there. “I’m lucky that I work from home.” Other parents, however, have to juggle. In addition, there were lesson cancellations: no French lessons for six months – “this sort of thing happens more often.”

Nora Oehmichen, high school teacher in Ludwigsburg and national chairwoman of “Teachers For Future”, explains in her speech on Schloßplatz what the educational crisis is doing to students and teachers: Around 30 percent of the student body and teachers are now struggling with symptoms of stress and even burnout . She herself had already thought about leaving her job. Oehmichen has now reduced her teaching load from 15 to eight teaching hours.

The school system has been in a “desolate state” for a long time. That’s why the “Education Transition Now” alliance made up of almost 200 initiatives – from Fridays for Future to Kitastrophe and the GEW – to put pressure on politicians.

The majority of school leavers feel that the school system does not adequately prepare them for the future. Students would say: “I know how to solve a mathematical equation. But how to deal with the existential problems of today and tomorrow – no plan!” It’s hardly surprising, says the teacher, that young people are “increasingly leaning towards seemingly simple solutions such as right-wing extremism.”

The British education expert Ken Robinson compares schools to factories in the 19th century: “We sort young people into departments of the same age, divide them into subjects, clock them in 45 minutes, the school bell sets the pace of work, just like the factory bell once did. We train assembly line workers* inside, where the school law actually provides for responsible citizens. Here our education system has failed across the board,” says Oehmichen in her protest speech.

What is needed instead? “Freedom for students, where they can work on topics that are important to them and that are socially relevant, without the fragmentation of subjects, without the pressure of grades,” demands Oehmichen. This is also anchored as a long-term goal in the National Education Action Plan. The federal government is committed to implementing these goals. It is not enough if democracy is taught and tested in theory in group lessons; Students need to experience with their own projects: “I can make a difference.”

This could, for example, be about expanding a cycle path in your own town. In this way, students would learn self-efficacy. “And then they also have trust in the system,” said the educator.