Digital Education and the Strategy 2025!

What about digital education in Germany and the Strategy 2025? We have looked at outline plans, resources, signposts and concepts and analysed how much attention is really paid to data protection and data security. How much of the Federal Government’s efforts is reaching the curricula? Our analysis reveals blatant gaps – across the board.

Digital education & strategy 2025 just a concept?

In the following article we want to take a closer look at the Digital Strategy 2025 with regard to the implementation of the countries in the area of “Digital Education” and “Data Protection and Data Security”. The Digital Strategy 2025 is a paper produced by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy that defines ten steps for a digital future.

Recently, the Federal Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber also called for “Data protection must be integrated into curricula”. This article analyses the existing efforts and concepts in the area of “data protection and data security” within the framework of the media literacy framework plans for pupils (SuS) in Germany.

On the subject of data protection and security, the Strategy sets the following target:

“Users and consumers must be able to make sovereign decisions about the use of their data. Data security and data sovereignty are important cornerstones of our democracy and at the same time prerequisites for the acceptance and success of a data-driven economy.” </block quota>
Without the appropriate training, a data sovereign decision cannot be made. Looking to the future, and wanting to proactively combat these problems, Germany needs a concept on how such content can be brought into schools so that pupils can already deal with basic data protection and security issues. The Digital Strategy 2025 also defines a goal for digital literacy:

“2025 every*r school leaver* has basic knowledge of computer science, the functioning of algorithms and programming. To this end, appropriate compulsory elements must be created in primary and secondary school curricula and in teacher education and training”. </block rate>
Also the “Initiative Gutes Aufwachsen mit Medien” of the Federal Government writes that “age-appropriate and secure offers” have to be achieved.

following the Kultusministerkonferenz 2016, the paper “Kompetenzen in der digitalen Welt” (Competences in the digital world) defines requirements for school learning in a digital world. The countries are now called upon to draw up media competence framework plans (framework plans). These are now also available in almost all federal states. On this basis, we have analysed the individual framework plans of the Länder.

We use the German Education Server and the pages of the education ministries of the individual countries as data sources. The German Education Server is “a central guidepost in the education system […] and primarily refers to Internet resources provided by the Federal Government, the Länder, the European Union […], etc.”. For our analysis we have searched the outline plans for connections with “data protection” or “data security”.

Where are the competencies for Strategy 2025 to come from?

The result is that the outline plans have considerable shortcomings with regard to “data protection” or “data security”. In particular, it is unclear how competencies in the area of “data security” are to be developed. Only about every second federal state mentions the topic within the framework of the plan. The diagram below illustrates this.

In the area of “data protection” things look somewhat better, but here we find fault with the fact that around 15% of the framework plans interpret data protection only in terms of copyright law. The focus is on the correct use of third party materials, but it does not describe how SuS’s self-empowerment is integrated in terms of data protection.

A sustainable data sovereign society can only exist if the current generation of students learns how to handle data. To this end, competences must be defined either in the curriculum or in the media competence plan nationwide at state level.

Strategy 2025 can hardly be achieved anymore. This is confirmed by the current curricula.Strategy 2025 is hardly implemented in the curricula.

Another central problem arises when the question is asked: Who brings children closer to competences?

The formation of media hapses at the front and rear –
The objectives of Strategy 2025 are already difficult to achieve.

In order to make pupils data sovereign, teachers need the corresponding competences – so they have to have or build up their own competences. There is no module “data protection” or “data security” in the curricula of teacher training at universities. The study “Media education in German schools” by Initiative D21 also shows that there is hardly any media pedagogy in general and that attending these courses is usually not compulsory.“.

Approximately 66 % of all Teachers in Germany are 40 years and older. In this age range, around ⅓ of all teachers considers their competence in dealing with computers to be “less good”, according to the D21 study.

This is also reflected in the competence transfer for a data sovereign society. This is compounded by the lack of further training opportunities offered by the Länder. The following diagrams show whether there are low-threshold training programmes for teachers in the area of “data protection” or “data security”.

In the area of data protection, there are only training opportunities in every second country and in the area of data protection only in every third country. This gap in the training landscape needs to be closed quickly if IT security and data sovereignty are to be rethought and strengthened in the long term.

To sum up, we paint a gloomy picture for the goals of the “Digital Strategy 2025” with regard to education policy goals. In order to make a change, we need sustainable, rapidly and yet carefully rolled out concepts that train teachers on a low-threshold basis. Their core task should continue to be the transfer of competences in the core subject, but digital competences in the field of data protection and data security in the sense of a future-oriented education policy should not be neglected.

Other than this, doxing or hacking campaigns are still possible too easily. Talented and interested students can build responsible competencies and put their energy into a sustainable, non-penalistic career.

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