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Germany

Germany Plans to Boost Funds for Ailing Education System

Germany's ailing education system, under fire because of its high number of dropouts and slipping standards, is to get a cash infusion, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday after meeting state premiers.

German school kids

Germany's lagging schools are said to be in dire need of reform

Merkel has picked education as a strategic focus for Germany after a series of damning reports from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Germany's federal government and the premiers of the country's 16 states agreed at a one-day education summit in Dresden to hugely boost spending on education and research to 10 percent of gross domestic production (GDP) by 2015.

"We recognise that people are the biggest resource we have," Merkel said at a news conference after the "education summit". "Prosperity for all means education for everyone," she said.

But a dispute remained over who was to pay: the 16 states or Berlin.

Long-term unemployment was worst in sections of the population which had not completed schooling, Merkel said.

Annual OECD reports have criticized German schools for failing the children of the poor and ethnic minorities, even though higher-status children are well educated.

German universities have been criticized for making entry too difficult. Raising education spending to 7 per cent of GDP and research spending to 3 per cent would mean annual increases of between 25 billion and 60 billion euros (at least $32 billion), experts said.

The federal government has only limited authority over education, with the states reluctant to give up their powers.

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