Maintaining Kindergarden Quality in Germany: A case of too many cooks spoiling the porridge?

Froebel's and IB's political expert discussion on good daycare quality

Expert discussion on kindergarten quality - from left to right: Daniela Keess from the IB, Stefan Spieker (FROEBEL e.V.), Prof. Dr. Bernhard Kalicki (Deutsches Jugendinstitut | DJI) and the IB Chairman Thiemo Fojkar.

In recent years, massive progress has been made in the expansion of child day care, but without any systematic further development of quality in early education. The quality of early education in particular is decisive for the further educational pathways of children. It is thus also a pivotal point for the creation of equal living conditions for children in Germany.

As supraregional providers of day care facilities for children, Froebel and the IB have a transnational perspective on quality development in day care facilities for children - and on the different standards for collecting and developing quality. On 26 September 2019, the two institutions jointly hosted an expert discussion entitled "Quality in child day care - a patchwork carpet threatens in Germany".

The interest was great. Around 70 guests from the Bundestag and the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, the Berlin Senate Administration and academia as well as from trade unions, associations and other organisations discussed the quality of childcare and education in daycare centres. The inputs on the concept of quality and on the perspective of the provider on quality development from Prof. Dr. Bernhard Kalicki, head of the "Children and Childcare" department at the German Youth Institute (DJI), Daniela Keess, head of the Family and Special Life Situations department at the IB and Stefan Spieker, chairman of the board of Froebel e.V. triggered a concentrated, constructive but also controversial discussion.

In his welcoming address, IB Chairman of the Board Thiemo Fojkar had drawn attention to a fundamental problem that still had to be solved: "The profession of an educator is extremely demanding," said Fojkar. "Together we must ensure that the performance of educators is much better recognised in society than it has been up to now.

There was a consensus that good Kita quality cannot simply be produced, but rather a common "product of pedagogical specialists, management, sponsors, supported by specialist advice and further training (is), which is further developed in the dialogue of all responsible persons", as Prof. Dr. Kalicki put it. However, opinions diverged on the question of whether there could be nationwide uniform or at least comparable standards for good quality and their collection. Daniela Keess and Stefan Spieker have a clear stance on this. Referring to the current results of the Bertelsmann Country Monitor, Spieker said: "To date, nobody can honestly answer why the framework conditions in the individual German states should or should be so different. Annet Bauer, consultant at the Paritätischer Landesverband Brandenburg, also spoke out in favor of a nationwide orientation framework - there are currently "16 qualities that drift apart".

Keess criticised that the Social Security Code already prescribes the installation of quality management systems for institutions, but that implementation is not monitored. The Berlin model is regarded as exemplary by both institutions. Since 2008, the regular external evaluation of each individual nursery has been prescribed by law and is fully refinanced. However, according to Spieker, the results are "kept under lock and key", which is why the sustainability of the results is not assured. Prof. Dr. Kalicki would also like to see more commitment and transparency in the quality development process.

One thought that caught the attention of many guests was the idea of a "pact of all those who want early education to be good education to end the 'education lottery'," says Michael Fritz, Chairman of the Board of the Haus der kleinen Forscher Foundation. Prof. Dr. Kalicki confirmed that this was the original intention of what is now the "Good KiTa Law". As the responsible body, we hope and continue to work to ensure that the quality objectives enshrined in the law are taken more into account by the Länder in the future, with the participation of science, parents, local authorities and responsible bodies. Irrespective of which federal state they live in, which family language they bring with them and which day care centre their parents choose, children should benefit from comparable good educational standards. 

The IB President Petra Merkel also took part in the discussion. She reminded that it is absolutely necessary to involve the parents in the quality of the day care centres. "Children are our future. Therefore it must be from the outset our concern to guarantee a highest possible standard with their support , demands the IB chairman of the board Thiemo Fojkar.

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