In Brief: Thousands of Berlin residents support ‘Schools in Need’ campaign

More than 20,000 signatures have already been collected in eight districts across Berlin, calling for an end to privatization of maintenance staff and better conditions in schools. The campaign is expanding to additional districts.

Photo by moren hsu on Unsplash

 

 

A Berlin citizens’ initiative is calling for cleaner schools.

Volunteers with Schule in Not, or “Schools in Need” collected more than 11,500 signatures in Neukölln alone to call for a reinstatement of janitorial staff.

Philipp Dehne, a teacher in Neukölln and an organizer with the Schools in Need campaign, said schools elsewhere in Germany have shown reversing the privatization of maintenance staff benefits both schools and the local workforce.

“How valuable are good working conditions? How valuable are good schools?” Dehne asked. “There are examples where they already did this, they reemployed the cleaners in the public sector, and they don’t pay more money but they have better working conditions and the schools are cleaner. ”

Dehne said Germany ended 2019 with a record budget surplus of more than 13 billion euros and improving quality in the country’s schools should be a higher priority.

Organizers for the Neukölln school district delivered the signatures last week and the issue could come to a public vote in the coming months.

The collection of signatures has ended in five other districts. The collection in Lichtenberg and Reinickendorf is still underway.

Organizers say they plan to expand the effort to additional districts, such as Treptow-Köpenick and Mitte.

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The Berlinale has announced the films competing for this year’s top prize.

A total of 18 films are in the running at Berlin’s 70th international film festival for the Golden and Silver Bears. Most of the entries are world premieres.

Announcing the contenders on Wednesday, Artistic Director of the Berlinale Carlo Chatrian shared his excitement for this year’s festival.

“I’m feeling very happy because it’s the moment where we unveil our program and it’s the end of a very long, epic, adventurous journey. Now I am curious to see how the program will be first of all judged by you and then most importantly how the film will be received by the audience,” Chatrian said.

Berlin’s film festival runs from Feb. 20 to March 1. This year’s jury president is the British actor and Oscar winner Jeremy Irons.

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