Regarding schools, GEW states: “Digitization increases social divisions”

BERLIN. The push for digitalization in schools during the Corona pandemic has partially increased social divisions in schools. In a GEW study on the digital pact for schools, presented in Berlin on Monday, the authors concluded that there is a “large gap in the level of digital equipment in schools”. The current practice of implementing the digital pact endangers equal opportunities in schools and is reminiscent of a patchwork quilt, said GEW board member Anja Bensinger-Stolze.

Does the current digitization of schools exacerbate the difference between rich and poor communities? Illustration: Shutterstock

The union had examined how the implementation of the digital pact works in the interaction between the federal government, states, municipalities and schools. To this end, the application and methods of accessing funds from the federal cash fund, which has now grown to € 6.5 billion, were examined. School management, teachers, IT administrators and people involved in the municipalities were interviewed.

Learning conditions for students are also highly unequal ahead of digitization, said educational researcher and study director Prof. Michael Wrase of the University of Hildesheim and the Berlin Science Center for Social Research. High schools in particular are digital pioneers. According to the report, a school’s digital positioning also depends on having competent teachers or specialists in the field of digitization or media education.

“The lack of skilled workers in education, information technology and administration is the biggest problem”

“Children’s education must not depend on the financial situation of individual municipalities or an accidental affinity for digitization of individual teachers,” stressed Anja Bensinger-Stolze, GEW Board Member for Schools. “If the funds of the Digital Pact 2.0 are distributed, they must go in particular to the previously disadvantaged schools. Unequal people must be treated unequally. Countries must guarantee adequate framework conditions ”.

“Despite other announcements, neither the Federal Ministry of Education nor state governments have published transparent monitoring of the digital pact,” said Bensinger-Stolze. “Without good and transparent data, it is difficult to distribute funds more equitably.” A pedagogically meaningful digital school development process requires sufficient time, financial and professional resources. “But this is precisely where the problem lies,” she stressed. “The lack of skilled workers in education, information technology and administration is the biggest problem in the school’s digitalization process.” The teachers needed professional support and maintenance facilities.

Bensinger-Stolze warned for the Digital Pact 2.0 as a contribution to greater equal opportunities at the federal and state level:

  • transparent monitoring that also takes into account social indicators,
  • Strengthening of digital school development processes through more time, financial and professional resources,
  • Development of IT support and maintenance structures on site,
  • Increase and improve training skills to combat the shortage of skilled workers,
  • targeted promotion of financially weak municipalities,
  • Global (interim) assessment of the digital pact.

“The study also solves some blind spots in the implementation of the digital compact,” said study leader Wrase. In principle, federal investments in the digital infrastructure of schools made with the Digital Compact are the right way to go. However, difficulties in implementing the digital pact meant that funds were not always distributed as needed.

“The learning conditions of students are very unequal, also with a view to digitization”

The reasons for this include the lack of monitoring, partially non-transparent coordination processes between administrative levels, the lack of skilled labor and, to date, often insufficient support and maintenance facilities in schools, for which the school authorities are responsible. “The consequences: the learning conditions for students are very unequal, even from the point of view of digitalization,” Wrase stressed.

Sustainable and socially just digitization requires schools to receive funds according to their needs. Furthermore, funding should be placed in a solid and transparent framework. So far, local schools have not received enough support. In a digital pact 2.0, financially weaker municipalities in particular should receive targeted support as school authorities.

Background: Using a qualitative methodological approach, the study examined how the digital pact for schools is implemented in the interaction of the different levels of control (federal, state, municipal educational bodies and individual schools). The survey is based on 21 guided interviews with experts from school practice and municipal school authorities, which were evaluated with a qualitative analysis of the contents. The study included public general education schools in Bavaria, Berlin, Hamburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Saxony. The results have been classified in the current state of research on school digitalization. News4teachers / with material from the dpa

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