Unions are calling for clarity in government and praising the work of the educational staff in distance learning

While distance learning training resumed in 2021, German education unions are calling on the authorities to support the excellence of educators in ensuring access to quality education for all and well-organized and designed exams.

VBE: Commitment of the teachers despite the "bumpy" resumption of lessons

When the students returned to school in Germany, the Association of Education and Training (VBE) took stock of the first week of the 2021 term of office. “Even if everything did not go smoothly in the schools, teachers and educational support staff do a strong and indispensable job with a high level of commitment to enable learning in school and offer support and supervision wherever necessary. This despite the most difficult conditions, ”said Stefan Behlau, state chairman of the VBE branch in North Rhine-Westphalia.

He commented that it was "a bumpy start" and that "the start of school after the holidays always brings with it some imponderables and surprises – even if it happens personally".

While "it was therefore foreseeable that a digital start would not go completely smoothly," he emphasized that teachers, students and parents had benefited from their experiences from the past year and that educators are doing their best to improve school learning for children and young people organize people. "Schools that are almost empty should not be equated with a lack of education," he said. "That doesn't do justice to the work of the schools and the students."

Don't lose sight of the whole school system

Behlau said it was regrettable that the union continued to receive complaints about inadequate equipment – lack of working WiFi or adequate equipment in schools. It was important to "communicate honestly and transparently that released funds alone do not bring lessons". It is also important to highlight that issues with learning platforms or questions about equipment are not the responsibility of school administrators or teachers, he added. "Simple solutions cannot fill gaps that many governments are responsible for," he said.

“It is necessary to offer a perspective for the coming weeks and months in good time. Everyone involved in school life deserves it. It must be about everyone's situation, including the often forgotten special schools, elementary and secondary schools. All children and young people deserve the best possible conditions for their educational pathways. "

GEW: Clear demand for special regulations

For their part the Education and Science Union (GEW) has demanded that “nobody is allowed to sit in this school year” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And if necessary, it must be possible to take that High School – a qualification awarded at the end of secondary education – or the interim degree without an examination.

"An exceptional situation like the coronavirus crisis requires special regulations," said Marlis Tepe, GEW President and Vice President of Education International. “Extending school time is not an option. This would only be done at the expense of the students and there is no staff for it. "

The design of exams and degrees must be explained

She also stressed that "it is high time the education ministers finally came up with a concept of how performance measurement, exams and degrees should be designed under coronavirus conditions."

Instead of exams, previous work, which is already the largest part of the grade, can be graded, Tepe said.

She insisted that focusing on alleged material deficits and talking about emergency audits or emergencies is not fair High School”. Tepe also urged authorities to take into account that children and adolescents acquired additional new skills during the pandemic that need to be considered in the assessment and to reduce the amount of material in the curriculum.

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