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German education minister replaced after plagiarism scandal

February 14, 2013|By Emily Alpert
  • New German Education Minister Johanna Wanka speaks during a news conference at the Education Ministry in Berlin.
New German Education Minister Johanna Wanka speaks during a news conference… (Johannes Eisele / AFP/Getty…)

Germany replaced its embattled education minister Thursday, choosing a mathematician to succeed Annette Schavan, who was accused of plagiarizing parts of her doctoral thesis.

Schavan announced her resignation days after a University of Dusseldorf probe determined that the minister had “systematically and deliberately” used others’ work without crediting it. The former minister denies any wrongdoing and says she will contest the decision in court.

However, Schavan said Saturday that she was stepping down anyway because an education minister suing a university would cause difficulties for the government.

The scandal is a headache for Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government faces national elections in the fall. Schavan is the second member of the Merkel Cabinet to resign over plagiarism accusations in less than two years, after Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg stepped down in March 2011.

The education minister was seen as a close ally of the chancellor, who joined Schavan at the Berlin news conference announcing her resignation. Merkel said Saturday she accepted the resignation “only with a very heavy heart,” Der Spiegel reported.

The new education minister, Johanna Wanka, was appointed Thursday by German President Joachim Gauck. Wanka, a mathematician, previously served as the regional education minister in the German state of Lower Saxony.


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