Many beneficiaries are unaware of their entitlement

Children and young people from low-income families are entitled to support under the Education and Participation Act. But only a small portion of the funds are retrieved. This not only has negative consequences for those affected, but also harms society as a whole.



press release

study circle

  • © study group

    Scientific studies show that there is still a lot to be done in Germany to achieve equal opportunities in education.

In hardly any other country does the educational success of the children depend so much on the parental home as in Germany: those who have educated parents with qualified jobs almost always manage to get their Abitur and university degrees. Children without such a family background are less likely to make it to the highest level of education – even with the same talent. Since 2011, the state education and participation package (BuT) has been intended to ensure that children from low-income families receive more support: It is aimed at children and young people whose parents receive state support such as unemployment benefit II or housing benefit and do not have the means to finance their children’s sports courses, music lessons or private tuition.

  • Statistics and studies on education with equal opportunities and on the use of the education and participation package (BuT) can be found in the Studienkreis fact sheet “educational equity”.

About three out of ten students from the tutoring provider Studienkreis receive learning support from BuT funds. “It is very important to the parents that their children are successful in school,” says Andreas Durth, Managing Director of Studienkreis. “They cannot encourage their children themselves, for example because they do not have sufficient command of the learning content or do not speak German well enough. But they know the value of education and want their children to be well prepared for life.”

Some BuT services – such as school lunches or the purchase of school supplies – are now received by the beneficiaries without any red tape. Other types of benefits, on the other hand, have to be applied for in a complicated manner. As a result, only around 11 to 15 percent of those entitled take advantage of the benefits (see “Educational Justice” fact sheet). Many families don’t even know that they could receive the funding because nobody told them (read the interview with an affected mother in the Studienkreis blog).

“Providing funds is important, but not enough. The government must ensure that the BuT funding reaches those who are entitled to it,” Durth demands. BuT was improved in 2019, but the application process is still complicated. Depending on the municipality and the type of state social benefits, other authorities are responsible for the application. Above all, the authorities usually do not even point out to the recipients of social benefits which BuT benefits their children are entitled to. “Parents keep telling us they just found out about it by accident,” says Durth.

Education with equal opportunities – above all, this means that all children and young people use their full potential. This not only benefits the affected children and young people themselves, but society as a whole. “The shortage of skilled workers in Germany is getting worse and worse. At the same time, children and young people fall short of their potential and are not sufficiently prepared for working life when they finish school. It doesn’t go together,” emphasizes Durth.

The coalition agreement shows that the government is aware of the problem. There it says: “At schools with a high proportion of students who are entitled to services from the education and participation package, we want to establish permanent and unbureaucratic offers for learning support and socio-cultural participation in order to ensure that the use of these services rising.” Action must now follow.

More information can be found here:
Studienkreis factsheet “Educational equity in Germany”
Studienkreis blog post “Educational Justice”

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