Conference of Ministers of Education

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The former tram depot Bonn , since 2010 the seat of KMK in Bonn (2015)

The Standing Conference of the Education Ministers of the Federal States in the Federal Republic of Germany (short form: Kultusministerkonferenz , abbreviation KMK ) is a voluntary association of the Ministers and Senators of the Federal States responsible for education , research and cultural affairs . As a voluntary coordinating body of the federal states, it has no direct legislative power; its decisions are therefore not directly binding, but rather must be enacted by the respective state as legal provisions under state law. Important decisions concern, for example, the regulation of the gymnasiale Oberstufe or the legal status of the student in the school .


According to the Basic Law , the federal government has (almost) no legislative or administrative responsibilities in the field of education and culture, so that these remain the responsibility of the states ( cultural sovereignty ). According to its rules of procedure, the Standing Conference deals with “matters of cultural policy of supraregional importance with the aim of forming a common opinion and will and representing common concerns”. Since the states, as owners of original statehood, can regulate their cooperation with one another as they wish, the KMK does not appear in the Basic Law.

The annual budget of the KMK is currently 60 million euros.


Organs of the KMK are the plenary , in which the Minister four times meet annually, the Bureau and the President or the President . The President in the 2020 year of office is the Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Education, Dr. Stefanie Hubig . The plenary sessions are prepared by the heads of office of the ministries (representatives of the ministers, mostly state secretaries ) in so-called heads of office conferences. The three permanent main committees (school committee, university committee, culture committee) with their 16 sub-committees and working groups, as well as the commissions set up to deal with individual important areas, carry out preparatory work for the decisions of plenary sessions and office heads conferences. There are five standing commissions (Office Heads Commission “Quality Assurance in Schools”, Office Heads Commission “Quality Assurance in Universities”, Commission for European and International Affairs, Commission for Statistics, Commission “Sport”). In addition, the committees and commissions can appoint event-related or project-related working groups or representatives and reporters.

Since January 1, 2019, the ministers and senators responsible for cultural policy have been forming their own conference of ministers of culture (Kultur-MK) under the umbrella of the KMK. It meets twice a year for a spring and an autumn session. According to the rules of procedure, their resolutions are generally considered to be KMK resolutions, but cross-departmental issues only become effective after a resolution by the entire KMK plenum.

The KMK maintains a secretariat with offices in Bonn and Berlin, which is headed by a general secretary , to handle day-to-day business, in particular the preparation of plenary and committee meetings as well as the evaluation and implementation of resolutions . The activities and financing of the secretariat are based on an agreement between the federal states from 1959, which the new federal states joined in 1991. According to § 3 of this agreement, the secretariat is an office of the State of Berlin and is formally subject to the supervision of the senator responsible for education; the financing is provided proportionally by all federal states. According to a decision of the Prime Minister's Conference in 2007, around two thirds of the approximately 200 employees are permanently employed in Bonn, and one third at the Berlin location. The secretariat is divided into departments for general services, schools, universities, research and arts, quality assurance, international affairs and statistics; The Pedagogical Exchange Service and the Central Office for Foreign Education are also affiliated (not to be confused with the Central Office for Schools Abroad located at the Federal Office of Administration !). The federal-state committee for school work abroad coordinates the cooperation between the KMK and the Federal Foreign Office.

Chairwoman or president since 1948

Secretary General since 1955


The secretariat of the Standing Conference provides a range of other services in addition to supporting committee work. The Pedagogical Exchange Service is responsible for the exchange of students and teachers between Germany and other countries. The Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) is the national expert and information center for the assessment of foreign qualifications in Germany. This includes school, professional and university qualifications. The ZAB operates the information portal for the recognition of foreign educational qualifications ( Anabin ).

The “Vocational Education” department coordinates the KMK foreign language certificate, the “Foreign Schools” department coordinates, among other things, the German language diploma of the Conference of Ministers of Education.

Important decisions

Criticism and discussions

The spelling reform and the debate about a necessary educational reform as a result of the poor performance of German students in the PISA study brought the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs more into the public eye in recent years. Since unanimity was required for its decisions, it was viewed by critics as slow and inflexible.

The former Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was one of the most vehement critics of the Standing Conference . In his balance sheet as a politician “out of service” (2008), he found that the Conference of Ministers of Education had “created its own official substructure on the scale of a medium-sized federal ministry and acquired considerable competencies”. This authority is “neither provided for in the Basic Law, nor is it controlled by a parliament. Her ability to perform is best demonstrated by the clutter of spelling she has created to the general annoyance. Nevertheless, the heads of government of the countries have not yet decided to abolish this authority, which functions close to the edge of legality. Incidentally, it is a prime example of the general life experience according to which a bureaucracy once it has been created tends to expand its competencies as far as possible, but at least perpetuate its existence ”.

At the end of September 2004, Lower Saxony's then Prime Minister Christian Wulff ( CDU ) announced in a newspaper interview that he would terminate the State Treaty on the secretariat of the Conference of Ministers of Education. On the basis of a reform paper presented by the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, the Conference of Prime Ministers then decided on December 15 and 16, 2004 by mutual agreement to continue the secretariat beyond December 31, 2005 with a 20 percent reduction in staff. The termination of Lower Saxony was thus canceled.

On October 20, 2006, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs received the negative Big Brother Award for the project to centrally summarize school statistics data for students and teachers across national borders and to collect personal data without tying the individual educational data to fixed purposes and protecting it from misuse and unauthorized access.

See also


  • Standing Conference of the Education Ministers of the Federal States (Ed.): Collection of the resolutions of the Standing Conference of the Education Ministers of the Federal States in the Federal Republic of Germany (loose leaf). ISBN 978-3-472-50020-9
  • Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany (Ed.), Unity in Diversity: 50 Years of the Conference of Ministers of Education 1948–1998 , Neuwied / Kriftel / Berlin 1998.
  • Schmidt, Thorsten Ingo: The future of the Conference of Ministers of Education after Lower Saxony's resignation . In: Law of Youth and Education 2005 . Pp. 335-346.

Web links

Wiktionary: Kultusministerkonferenz  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Bernhard Gayer and Stefan Reip: School and civil service law for teacher training and school practice in Baden-Württemberg . Europa-Lehrmittel Nourney, Vollmer, Haan-Gruiten 2012, ISBN 978-3-8085-7954-1 , p. 22 .
  2. except: the protection of German cultural property against migration abroad, Art. 73, Paragraph 1, No. 5a of the Basic Law; university admission and university degrees, Art. 74 Para. 1 No. 33 GG
  3. except for cooperation between the federal government and the federal states: 1. institutions and projects for scientific research outside of universities; 2. Science and research projects at universities; 3. Research buildings at universities, including large-scale equipment, Article 91b, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law; in determining the efficiency of the education system in an international comparison and in related reports and recommendations, Art. 91b para. 2 GG
  4. Rules of Procedure of the KMK ( Memento of December 3, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 43 kB)
  5. Organs of the Standing Conference , see also Rules of Procedure, Section A ( Memento of December 3, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 43 kB)
  6. ^ New KMK President: Times that are challenging in terms of educational policy. Retrieved April 8, 2020 .
  7. Guidelines for the establishment and working methods of committees of the Standing Conference, cf. Annex to the rules of procedure ( memo of 3 December 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 43 kB), p. 5 ff.
  8. ^ Conference of Ministers of Culture. In: Retrieved January 28, 2019 .
  9. Full text of the KMK agreement of June 20, 1959 (PDF; 604 kB), last accessed on April 24, 2013.
  10. ^ Organization plan of the KMK ( Memento from October 11, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  11. ^ Directory of General Secretaries
  12. ^ Tasks of the ZAB
  13. Anabin information portal
  14. Information on the KMK foreign language certificate ( Memento from June 5, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  15. ^ German language diploma from the KMK
  16. Helmut Schmidt: “ Out of service - a balance sheet ”, Siedler-Verlag 2008, p. 41
  17. Big Brother Awards 2006 - Ministers of Culture and the Interior cleared Spiegel Online from October 20, 2006