The President of the Conference of Ministers of Education, Alexander Lorz, told the weekly newspaper Die Zeit that he expects penalties for striking students after the summer holidays. Lorz has called for an end to the regular student protests for climate protection.
“Anyone who goes to a demo that is not part of a course is without an excuse – with all the consequences,” said Lorz. There is no guarantee that nothing will happen if a rule is broken. For civil disobedience there should be no “comprehensive insurance” and penalties will follow.
Tens of thousands of young people have been demonstrating for months and staying away from school.
It is also not the job of teachers to offer the pupils compensation for their unexpressed absence. “Anyone who decides not to go to school will pay a price, because he has to rework, catch up and take care of himself,” Lorz said.
On Monday, the Cologne “Fridays for Future” group had started a one-week school strike. In North Rhine-Westphalia it is the last week before the summer holidays. Even during the nights, students have protested against climate change.
Climate protection has made a giant leap up the political scale of meaning and has arrived as a central issue in politics and the media. The origin of the action is Sweden, where the 16-year-old student Greta Thunberg was the first to demonstrate regularly in front of parliament.
These protests, involving school-age children refusing to attend class, have spread from Australia to Germany and Belgium.
In Belgium, an environment minister, Joke Schauvliege, was recently forced to resign after saying that the Belgian children skipping school were being directed by unnamed foreign powers.
Schauvliege suggested that the protests were being influenced by outside political actors and blamed Belgian intelligence for having knowledge that the children’s actions were “more than spontaneous actions of solidarity”.
At a climate demonstration in Brussels on 27 January 2019, Schauvliege specifically had received a lot of criticism from young climate strikers. A few days later, in a speech to the General Farmers Syndicate on 2 February 2019, she described this and other demonstrations as a “set up game” and claimed that the state security agency had informed her about the instigators of the protests.