The United Nations has declared October 25th to be “World Day for Information on Development Issues”. The goal: to create a greater awareness of global responsibility. The path leads through educational work. What the status quo is and what still needs to happen, explains Prof. Dr. Marc Beutner, professor for business education and evaluation research at the University of Paderborn.
Education is the basis for responsible behavior. How can teachers contribute to equitable development in a globalized world?
Prof. Dr. Marc Beutner: Globalization, digitization and internationalization fundamentally shape our society. The changes bring with them socio-cultural and economic challenges that can and must be shaped through education in the short and medium term. However, these competencies must also be imparted by teachers who have been trained in pedagogy and intercultural skills – and that as early as possible. Education is a key factor in generating economic, social and political success and in understanding and managing sustainable developments.
The basis for successful implementation is above all educational research. How optimistic are you that the approaches and recommendations will be implemented in practice?
I am positive. A lot of money is being spent on digitization in German schools – the situation that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic was certainly an initial spark. There is currently a rethinking. Too often, however, people still talk about the technical equipment and not about pedagogically and didactically necessary skills. The international competencies of teachers should also be looked at more closely. Students with a migration background often sit in the classroom, so it helps if the teachers have gained intercultural experience. At the University of Paderborn, we therefore very much hope to be able to send the student teachers abroad again next year – for example to Paraguay, Togo or Cameroon as part of the “Active UPB” project.
Speaking of digitization: How do you rate the online offers in German schools?
In the public debate there is a lot of talk about the fact that we lack the technical conditions for a good blended learning offer, i.e. a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching. Of course the schools could be better equipped. But even if we had reached the ideal state of the equipment, the lessons would not automatically run optimally. The teachers often simply lack the necessary skills to deal with online offers in a didactically meaningful way. A task from face-to-face teaching that is posted one-to-one online could also be sent by post and has little to do with e-learning. Teachers need support and training in how to use online platforms.
In your projects, e-learning platforms are developed with which teachers can convey content in a simple and sustainable way. what is so special about that?
In an adult education project, for example, we create a concept and courses for teachers who train start-ups from NGOs, i.e. non-governmental organizations. The online course aims to improve leadership skills and enable people to found an NGO in the field of green and social measures. We work with education providers from Portugal, a technology company from Malta, a media partner from Ireland and education partners from Spain, Italy and Romania. A very central question that worries the actors is how production processes can be made fairer. Non-governmental organizations put their fingers in the wounds here and act as mouthpieces for developing countries. So I think they should be encouraged.
What about the cooperation between science and politics?
Communication between science and practice – but also with politics – is extremely important. Of course, we cannot dictate what the politicians will do later with our proposals. We scientists show the current state. It is important that both practical problem solutions and corresponding methods as well as basic research are adequately taken into account. In the profile area “Transformation and Education” at the University of Paderborn, for example, researchers from the areas of “Design-oriented Vocational Training Research” and “Competence-Oriented Teacher Training Research” research transformations and challenges in educational processes. Basic research and subsequent applications are closely linked here.
Finally: What do you think should be done to bring development policy issues into focus?
I believe that intercultural education issues should be more firmly anchored in the school curriculum and in teacher training. A firmly planned stay abroad would certainly also make sense. Ultimately, it is important to address this content as early as the teacher training course – which is often, but not always, the case. In this way, prospective teachers can be made aware of the corresponding challenges at an early stage and address them later in class. The internationalization of education must continue to make progress in order to realistically map and address development issues. Education – in general – is the key to almost everything.
Linda Thomßen and Nina Reckendorf asked the questions for the Press, Communication and Marketing department.