Arriving at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research after a dazzling morning at Siemens, Roundtable members worried that the educators had a tough act to follow. Kornelia Haugg, Director General of General Education, Vocational Training, and Lifelong Learning, along with Dr. Kristin Schmal of the public affairs unit of the ministry, quickly put that worry to rest.
Schmal explained that the ministry had been established in 1955 as the Ministry for Atomic Affairs, and renamed in 1962. It worries about education, science, the arts, education research, which is a significant part of its budget, and technology and technological innovation.
With a staff of approximately 1,100 it boasts of a continually rising budget in recent years, amounting to 18 billlion euros in 2019. Germany has a Federal system, with the ministry providing guidance on most issues, but policy is defined by 16 “lander”– essentially states. The single policy exception is vocational education where the ministry has a significant role.
Headed by Minister Anja Karliczek, a member of the Bundestag, the ministry maintains two offfices — one in Bonn, the capital of West Germany during the Cold War, and one in Berlin. About two-thirds of the staff are in Bonn, with a continual discussion within the government about the wisdom, cost and feasibility of consolidating both offices in Berlin.