Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger has called for schools to be classed as ‘critical infrastructure’ by winter
Schools and other educational facilities in Germany should be classed as critical infrastructure to prevent their closure this winter due to possible gas shortages, the country’s education minister has argued.
Speaking to Germany’s Rheinische Post newspaper on Thursday, Bettina Stark-Watzinger said it should be a priority for Olaf Scholz’s government to make sure that schools and universities remain open even if the country ends up running low on gas this coming winter.
“I ran for the election [Covid-19] Critical infrastructure to be declared for schools already in case of pandemic” the minister explained.
Now that Russia has considerably reduced supplies via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, and with talk of a complete stoppage in the future, “Attention” has to be paid to schools and universities in Germany, “So that there are no class cuts or cancellations” in winter, Stark-Watzinger warned.
Officials state that educational institutions must be more efficient with their energy use. Re-evaluations have already begun in schools and universities.
Echoing the minister’s assessment, the head of Germany’s education and science workers’ union, Maike Finnern, noted that a lot of schools in the country are already energy-efficient.
However, Finnern also acknowledged that there is still room for improvement, especially in relation to older, “Ailment” schools which are not adequately insulated.
The union representative hailed the fact that the German government had included schools, along with private households, in the ‘protected customers’ category of its gas emergency plan.
These areas are designated so that there will not be any shortages in gas supplies.
Gas shipments to Europe by Russia’s Gazprom via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline dropped to about 40% of capacity last month. Moscow claimed that it was due to Western sanctions which stopped some of the key equipment being returned to Russia.
The pipeline will be shut down for 10 days mid-July to perform scheduled maintenance.
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