Children should learn digitally as early as primary school

Photo: University of Bremerhaven

September 9, 2022 – A poll shows that about 46 percent of those surveyed are in favor of enhancing digital skills from primary school onwards. Population dissatisfaction with digital education is particularly high in Bavaria (25.3 per cent) and Baden-Württemberg (28 per cent).

by Dominic Groleman

The new school year has begun all over Germany, in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, summer vacation ends this week. The demand for digital skills in the classroom is greater than ever. According to a current representative population survey conducted by the Internet Industry Association Eco
Market research and opinion firm Civey
64.2 percent of those surveyed demand that children in school learn how to confront bullying and hate online. 58.7 percent of those surveyed consider safe use of the internet and basic knowledge of data protection to be relevant. The relationship between digitalization and sustainability is also a relevant topic to be dealt with in school. About a third of those surveyed favor placing this association more in the curriculum focus.

    (Graphic: eco - Association of the Internet Industry)

Graphic: eco – Internet Industry Association

Respondents gave particular importance to the subject of computer science at school: more than three-quarters (77.2%) of Germans demand computer science as a compulsory subject in Germany. The way children and young people are prepared for the digital world and computer science education varies widely from country to country. So far, computer science has only been taught as a compulsory subject from grade 5 onwards at Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In Bavaria, it is also a compulsory subject in the fifth grade curriculum, but not invariably in all school types. In Baden-Württemberg there is a “Basic Course in Media Education” from the fifth grade, computer science becomes a compulsory subject only in the seventh grade.

For the majority of Germans, it is too late

About 46 percent of those surveyed believe that children should be introduced to the use of digital devices and services to play and learn between the ages of six and ten. A quarter of those surveyed (24.6 percent) would even teach digital skills to three- to five-year-olds.

    (Graphic: eco - Association of the Internet Industry)

Graphic: eco – Internet Industry Association

“Digitalization will continue to shape our society and economy and, above all, change it in the coming decades. Digital skills lead to a creative force, and are therefore essential success factors for each individual’s professional success, as well as for digital sovereignty and the competitiveness of the digital and business position in Germany”, says Alexander Raab, director general of the environment. Rabie added that access to digital education at all levels of the education system and during all stages of the education path is therefore a prerequisite for a successful digitization of the economy as a whole. “The only way we can counter the current shortage of skilled workers, which many member companies and user industries in the ICT sector are complaining about, is to get school children excited about the topic of digitization in an age-appropriate way as soon as possible. And to teach the basics of digitization.”

Digital education as a political mission

In particular, during the lockdowns as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, it has become clear that the German education system is in a weak position when it comes to digitization. The Digital Political Opinion Barometer, which Eco has compiled with Civey since the formation of the government in April 2022, shows that the topic of digital education is currently high on the federal government’s political agenda for many Germans. About 27.6% of those surveyed consider digital education to be one of the most pressing political issues that the federal government must deal with.

The values ​​are very high in southern Germany: in Bavaria (25.3 percent) and in Baden-Württemberg (28 percent), about a quarter of those surveyed think digital education in the state needs improvement.

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