Around one in five schoolchildren lost their connection at school due to canceled classes or inadequate homeschooling during the corona pandemic. Often there is a lack of digital devices and work materials to follow the digital lessons. Parents cannot fill these gaps everywhere. Social associations also warn of the emotional consequences of distance learning because there is a lack of social contact with classmates.
The parties in the Bundestag have different approaches so that students who have been left behind can catch up on learning material. That was shown in a Bundestag debate this week, which, despite the explosive topic, received little attention. The chairman of the Greens, Annalena Baerbock, proposes, for example, an educational protection umbrella that enables children nationwide to claim Corona funding in the event of learning delays: “These children must not fall through the net.”
In an unbureaucratic survey, the learning level of the students is to be determined, for this purpose the federal government is to make funds available to the municipalities and states. If a child falls short of expectations, they would be entitled to tutoring. According to the Greens, this could be carried out by master’s students in the appropriate subject areas, private tutoring institutes and initiatives such as Teach First.
At the beginning of February, various tutoring schools in Germany wrote an open letter to the government, with the message that a good 30,000 tutors were ready to provide support.
The FDP would like to provide students with a “learning buddy”
The FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag also submitted an application on Thursday. The Liberals called on the government to set up a nationwide “learning buddy program” as soon as possible, in which students support schools and pupils in catching up on the learning delays.
The students should receive ten euros per hour and credit points for the university certificates. The proposal would have cost a billion, but the enthusiasm of the Union and the SPD was limited.
Equip existing programs better
The CDU / CSU parliamentary group does not want to reinvent the wheel. Although it is recognized that many students have learning deficits, setting up a new tutoring program at short notice is not the right approach. In addition, the students in the FDP proposal would be “sold twice” – after all, the online lectures would also result in learning losses and are not a substitute for teachers. One would rather encourage and support programs like “Culture makes you strong” from the Federal Ministry of Education or “People Strengthen People” from the Ministry of Family Affairs. With existing structures, the additional administrative effort is also limited, said Dietlind Tiemann (CDU).
On the left, one sensed an economic development program for the “tutoring industry” behind the FDP idea. And the SPD used the Bundestag debate to dig out the misconduct of liberal education ministers in the federal states. In many places, students and participants in a voluntary social year could already be employed as support in schools, said Wiebke Esdar (SPD).
Small groups, tutoring, summer school – solutions for disadvantaged students urgently needed
There is definitely a need for action. Because two further studies also show that many students have a lot of catching up to do. In a survey of more than 1000 parents nationwide, the Munich-based Ifo Institute determined how much learning time had been lost by the students. The result: The average time that schoolchildren spent daily with worksheets, video lessons or homework has been more than halved during the Corona crisis – from 7.4 to 3.6 hours.
And a survey on behalf of the Robert Bosch Stiftung showed that almost 80 percent of teachers in Germany see corona-related learning deficits among their students.