Bitkom, students and parents demand the right to online lessons

ZTwo years of the corona pandemic have shattered many hopes. The hope that at some point, almost of its own free will, there can be effective distance learning in all areas in German schools is obviously one of them. Students, parents and the digital economy no longer want to rely solely on remedies. They are now calling for a “right to digital education”, which must also be enforceable in court if necessary.

This was demanded by an unusual alliance of the Federal Student Conference, the Federal Council of Parents and the digital association Bitkom on Thursday. The initiative alludes to a recent decision of the Federal Constitutional Court. The judges in Karlsruhe recently applied for the first time for the “right to school education” within the framework of the Corona measures. The demand is likely to strike a chord with many parents: according to a representative Bitkom survey, 96% of parents of school-aged children said the use of digital technology and media should be the norm in all the schools.

No classes instead of distance learning

They also issue a legal opinion that should support the ease of this engagement, prepared by the law firm Redeker Sellner Dahs. “There is no need to change the Basic Law for this,” Bitkom Chairman Achim Berg explained at the joint press conference. After all, we do not want to replace face-to-face teaching, but rather supplement it with hybrid offers. A simple law at the state level is sufficient. However, this would have to be done individually in the 16 federal states. Ideally, it should not only concern school, but also universities and further education opportunities.

The months of school closures during the pandemic highlighted the need: instead of the much-cited distance learning, in many cases there was no teaching at all: the quality of teaching remote currently depends on chance. “There aren’t even minimum standards nationwide,” complained Berg. He can think of many situations as possible applications: In addition to dramatic events like a pandemic or severe storms, there is also a need for many everyday situations: If school children cannot come to school for a long period because of a broken leg, for example, it would make sense if they could get away from it and connect from home.

All three organizations unanimously emphasized that effective and comprehensive digitization does not fail because of money. The federal government has made generous funds available for this in recent years: schools and school authorities have often failed because of bureaucratic hurdles, especially because of the mandatory creation of complicated media plans that fill dozens of pages. About three years after the start of the digitalization program for German schools, only around 1.2 billion euros have been spent.

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