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Digital education: better future opportunities for all

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Prof. Wolfgang Schuster, Chair of the Deutsche Telekom Foundation

Prof. Wolfgang Schuster, Chair of the Deutsche Telekom Foundation

We have to make the education system fit for the future in a digitized world.

At this very moment, didacta, the largest education trade fair in Europe, is once again attracting all those professionally involved with education. More and more space there is being taken up by exhibitors and providers presenting innovations centering on the topic of "education and digitization." This proves how seriously the topic is being taken by kindergartens, schools, universities, and many other educational institutions. Unfortunately, Germany has only a mediocre international ranking with regard to the digital skills of children and adolescents. Yet for young people – as for most adults – a future without a smartphone, PC, tablet, or other electronic helpers is no longer imaginable. For most adolescents, the smartphone is more important today than an automobile.

Digitization is a considerable challenge for the education system. Yet: the existence of that challenge does not in itself create digital competence. Instead, appropriate framework conditions are necessary for successful teaching and learning about digital media, with digital media, and for creative design using digital media. This is especially the case in our schools. Beginning with media concepts in the school, anchoring digital media in the curriculum, integrating digital media in everyday teaching, and above all, teachers who are happy and confident using digital media are needed, as is the appropriate technical equipment.

Our society – and thus every school class – is becoming more and more heterogeneous. This means that we increasingly need individualized forms of teaching and learning. Digital media can provide valuable help toward this. It's not about a competition between analog and digital media, but instead about the competent, sensible use of all available resources to increase the educational opportunities of every individual.

As one of the largest educational foundations in Germany, the Deutsche Telekom Foundation accepts its responsibility to contribute to better education in the digital world. For this purpose we have plans to focus on three areas: we are committed to the age-appropriate teaching of digital competence, we work to improve the media competence of primary school teachers, and we develop learning modules to improve the educational opportunities for young people from poor educational backgrounds.

To ensure even greater emphasis on the topic of "education and digitization" within education policy, we do not only use our expertise and energy for our own projects and initiatives. We work together with partners to enable as many people as possible to have opportunities in the future and to contribute to shaping and taking part in the digital world.

Thus alongside four other large foundations we have launched a national initiative – the Forum for Education and Digitization. In partnership with the federal and state governments, with local authorities, and other education providers, we intend to tackle the great challenges in education policy. We have to make the education system fit for the future in a digitized world, with the aim of achieving better education for all and thus contributing to a fairer and inclusive society.

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