The Digital Pact School is better than its reputation, but not as good as it could be. We hope it changes in the next edition.
The politicians have been really generous: since 2019, the federal government has provided federal states with a total of € 6.5 billion for the digitization of schools. A large chunk of five billion euros, mainly for educational institution infrastructures, was followed up as emergency programs of 500 million each for student loan devices and work equipment for teachers. And since you later realized someone had to take care of the entire IT, there was another 500 million more for maintenance and care.
While the willingness to invest was praised by all sides, there was rapid criticism. Many schools are overwhelmed by the need to present a technical and pedagogical media concept in advance as a prerequisite for funding approval. What does education have to do with connecting sockets and configuring a WLAN? The correct answer is: nothing. Internet access in classrooms should be as natural as electricity.
A criticism that regularly emerges in the media is the slow outflow of funds. According to this, the five billion of the DigitalPakt have not yet been half spent. But this is due to a miscalculation. Many schools have received their equipment very well, the municipalities have paid financial advances for it. However, school authorities’ billing with the state has been dropped in many places due to the pandemic, so there is a discrepancy between the money spent and the money billed.
Digitally for 45 euros per month
Funds for digital devices were already tight. The Alliance for Education urgently recommends budgeting an amount of at least 45 euros per month and a teacher for a complete and sustainable equipment of all teachers with a personal service device. In addition to a full-fledged professional end device, this exemplary minimum amount would also include an operational concept that spans the entire lifecycle. This includes, among other things, concepts of service, administration, necessary software applications and a periodic technology exchange, including a concept of recycling. The required amount of cost can be passed on to student devices in a similar way.
If you multiply that by the approximately 11 million general and vocational school students and the nearly 800,000 teachers in Germany, you get around € 6.3 billion – a year. It is hard to imagine that politicians will ever be able to obtain such large funding, even if federal funds are complemented by funds from federal states and local authorities.
It hasn’t been decided yet, but the new federal government’s coalition deal reads in such a way that there will likely be a Digital Pact II. Politicians should learn from this and draw the following conclusions:
- The digitization of schools is not a sprint, but a marathon that requires strength. Sustainability is important so that schools can plan for the long term and not have to ask for money every few years. The next digital pact is therefore expected to be in place at least until 2030. Only long-term and reliable funding from federal and state governments will enable long-term and needs-based planning.
- School expenses are the responsibility of the municipalities. In the digital pact, the federal government negotiated with federal states, so the people actually affected weren’t at the table at all. In the future, politicians should not speak but with municipalities. The DigitalPakt School requires timely, sustainable and practical implementation concepts.
No free digital space
Unfortunately, digital doesn’t automatically mean better. “Digitization is not the same as mechanization, but it serves to transmit skills for the future”, underlines Dr. Christian Buttner. The dean of the Institute for Education and School Psychology in Nuremberg and first president of the Alliance for Education calls for schools to open up on content and also focus on teaching “future skills”, or the so-called six Cs: collaboration, communication , critical ability, creativity, coolness and charisma (each with a C in English).
Teachers have to ask themselves the same question. Some of them have relapsed into the old routine of frontal teaching in Corona’s homeschooling and read the books via videoconference. Students increasingly question such practices and hierarchies in the classroom. They instantly check what the teacher tells them online with their smartphone. Teachers need to open up and ensure that knowledge is treated equally. Teacher training such as B. the Intel SFI program can make an important contribution in this regard.
teachers should teach
With digitalization, schools are comparable to a medium-sized company in terms of IT equipment and need equally professional support. Büttner: “Small municipalities with few schools do well with the system house around the corner, large cities with many schools still have their own IT department.” didactics and pedagogy.
This costs money, and the latest tranche of the digital pact for IT management takes this into account. It remains to be hoped that this was not a one-off positive mistake, but that schools will finally be equipped appropriately to their importance for future viability.