Debate on compulsory subjects: a country in a computer disaster

Tuehe goes to school in Germany can learn a lot. However, computer skills that would correspond to the pervasive digitalization of everyday life or the world of work will also not be characteristic of the majority of schoolchildren in 2023.

While in Greece, Hungary or Poland, for example, elementary school students already have an independent compulsory subject in computer science in their timetable, in Germany none of the 16 federal states has this. Between the fifth and tenth grades, students take compulsory computer science classes in one federal state: in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In Saxony, computer science is an independent compulsory subject from grades 7 to 10.

In a quarter of the Länder, it is still languishing as a national elective, and in another third, an elective offer in computer science for all schoolchildren is not even ready. This conclusion is frightening, and this fear becomes even greater when you consider that expanding the teaching of computer science has been discussed for years, but little has happened and even less has improved.

Computer skills are as important as math

Not that communication with social networks, software, the Internet, laptops or smartphones does not play any role in German schools these days. As a cross-cutting issue, some subjects, and then especially dedicated teachers, take basic informational knowledge in their lessons and try to pass it on to students.

But precisely because digitization has already covered large areas of life and algorithms have made their way into everyday life, cross-divisional placement should not stop there – especially if AI-based applications continue to proliferate, keyword: ChatGPT.

In the information age that has been going on for several decades, computer science knowledge has the same status as mathematical knowledge. And for good reason, the school system doesn’t leave it as a by-product of subjects like physics, chemistry, or economics just because students do arithmetic there from time to time. Whether it’s mandatory or not, there’s one thing that parents and their school-age children shouldn’t hope for: that the country’s information technology emergency will be alleviated too quickly.

On the contrary, by the end of the current decade, poverty may even worsen. This is due to the inertia of the German federal school system. The Saarland, the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony want to introduce computer science as a compulsory subject in their secondary schools from next school year, but only gradually. Until it’s time for all classes, entire cohorts will be leaving school without special knowledge in computer science.

Basic rule: Payment is made by data

Added to this is the shortage of teachers. In the MINT subject group in math, computer science, science and technology, it is already large compared to other subject groups, but it is especially striking in computer science. According to the Telekom Foundation’s forecast, North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, will be able to meet only a fraction of the need for IT teachers in secondary schools in the 2030/31 school year. If this scenario does happen, 94 out of 100 IT teacher vacancies advertised in the most populous federal state will remain vacant. The shortage could be just as severe in other federal states, according to the study.

Therefore, anyone who wants to equip their children with computer science knowledge must become active themselves. Initially, this includes asking about one’s own behavior in the digital space – and once again a reminder of the basic rule of the Internet age: if the service or software is free, the user pays with their data – and often is the product itself. .

Even if it sounds too familiar, this awareness is the first step out of informational immaturity through no fault of yours, on the part of parents and children. Another option would be to expand knowledge by legal guardians in the field of computer science, for example through introductory literature. Children and parents could then use special software or applications to playfully lay the foundations of algorithms and programming. You can end up with a paid course. All this costs money and time, tedious, but at the same time it makes sense – and maybe even fun.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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