mw. It is common knowledge for a long time: Curriculum 21 paves the way for global corporations acting in education and technology to earn billions with the help of Swiss schools and their generous budgets. This was again and again a topic in the media, but not providing real evidence of the expected costs for the cantons and municipalities and obviously disclosing rounded off figures only. Now, as Curriculum 21 is being actually introduced in many cantons, more details surface. The extent and cost of digitisation will be greater many times than admitted so far. International corporations acting in education are already in business in various schoolboards of swiss municipalities. So-called consulting firms secure their slices of the cake. And what is becoming also known now: With increasing digitisation, the school system is in danger to slip out of the public authorities. The privatization of the public elementary primary and secondary school (class 1 to 9), a service public institution par excellence, is taking place already here and there. What is particularly to be stated: exponents of the LCH (Umbrella Association of Swiss Teachers) and the Universities of Education are strongly going along with this.
Since behind closed doors the EDK has hatched its Curriculum 21, which is contradictory to any pedagogical rationale, the global IT groups are in the starting blocks. The financially strong school boards of Swiss municipalities and cantons are highly appreciated customers.
In order to “relieve” the school authorities and the teachers in the municipalities, private vendors manage and operate the school system. Already today there are Swiss municipalities, where a private company has taken over the public school paid by a fixed amount per pupil and is running the school entirely according to Curriculum 21, with “input hours” by the teachers, pardon, “tutors”, and with an individual e-learning program for each pupil working at the computer. (“Die Schonzeit ist vorbei” – “The grace period is over”, NZZ am Sonntag from 11.6.2017)
Although such a solution might be feasible for some communities, the situation still remains dubious from a constitutional and democratic point of view. Thus, the community gives the school out of its hands and eliminates the constitutional educational sovereignty of the canton. In accordance with Article 62 (1) BV (Federal Constitution), the cantons are responsible for the school system; according to paragraph 2, primary and secondary school education is subject to state management or supervision. However, after the introduction of Curriculum 21, it will not only be some individual cases. If we citizens do not take care, the privatization of our public schools could happen faster than we would like.
Most alarming are the statements of the high level people of the LCH and of the Universities of Education which have supported Curriculum 21 right from the beginning. Today they openly concede that firstly with Curriculum 21 a total digitisation of the primary and secondary school will be introduced and that secondly development of learning software for our school is to be left to the large corporations. Jürg Brühlmann, head of the pedagogical specialist team of the LCH (Umbrella Association of Swiss Teachers) concerning the privatised school: “These pioneers are laying the foundations for international, profit-oriented educational corporations.” Brühlmann does not seem to be disturbed by this. He prophesies that the digitized, personalised education of tomorrow will have “industrial character”. “Large corporations will be able to offer digitally and modularly prepared learning material from a single source. Thanks to digitisation, individualised teaching is also possible at the elementary primary and secondary school in a cost-effective way.” And Wolfgang Beywl, professor of educational management at the University FHNW (University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland), explains that the Confederation and the cantons would have “medium-term […] with their own online learning projects no chance competing with internationally-set technology companies”, because they lack the millions of francs needed to continuously develop the programmes. Google or Facebook do not know such problems”. (NZZ am Sonntag from11.6.2017)
Really very open-hearted, this Swiss educational clique – at least one doesn’t have to ask, whose interests it actually represents – those of the school children and their parents as well as the teachers, definitely not ... The claim that the digitisation of schools, left to the corporations, would be more cost-effective, is by the way, a truly bold assertion!
According to the press on 10.6.2017, the Secondary School Unteres Furttal (four villages) (SekUF) will buy 150 mobile devices at a cost of 120,000 francs. It is thus able “to implement the requirements of Curriculum 21.” The new curriculum of the Canton of Zurich for the elementary primary and secondary school requires to introduce the subject ‘Media and Informatics’ and to use of PC, laptop or tablet in all subjects. The School Authority (“Volksschulamt”) recommends to provide such device for each pupil on secondary level.” “As in the past every pupil has got a slate, a sponge and chalk, today’s students are to receive a mobile device”, as said by the external IT consultant Danny Frischknecht from the company Media-shape, a consultant to the SekUF. (“All students receive their own tablet”. “Zürcher Unterlander” from 10.6.2017)
Any other examples? Samsung provides the learning platform Learnify, which has been adapted to Switzerland and to Curriculum 21. And managing director Niclas Walter of the Swedish-Icelandic company Infomentor estimates a big potential in Switzerland: “Curriculum 21 promotes individual learning and digitisation.” (NZZ am Sonntag from 11.6.2017)
In many cantons, politicians have claimed for economy in the area of education. Reduced head count for teachers and larger classes are a no go, given integration and inclusion requests! What is not said aloud: savings have to be done to cater the Curriculum-21-compatible conversion of schools. The conversion of the classrooms into a collection of individual workplaces with recreational areas and group-tables (learning landscapes), to outfit each child with an IT device and the large quantities of learning and testing software will cost billions across the country. In addition, thousands of hours must be paid for training teachers – that is, for the reprogramming of good teachers to learning advisors!
Communities and Cantons must keep the public primary and secondary school in their hands
If we want to keep the primary and secondary school, one of the most important public service areas in the hands of cantons and municipalities, of the citizens, is now quite right: Lets put a stop to the total digitisation of our schools! Let us make sure that our children learn to write letters and not just click and they store the multiplication table in their brain cells and not just in the calculator. And we have to prevent the primary and secondary school from being fed to the corporations! •
mw. “‘On the learning platforms in the future whole school careers will be stored – you can not only see the marks and the learning curves of the pupils, but also the absences, or one can trace at which time of day they are most productive and when they surf the Internet‘ says Beywl [University of Education FHNW]. Such ‘student problems’ were lucrative data. Future employers could know before the interview whether the candidate was a disciplined student. And for the advertising industry, it would be interesting to know the time a student surfed the Internet.“ (“The time of protection is over“, NZZ on Sunday from 11 June 2017)
This is what the education management professor at a Swiss university of applied sciences says off-the-cuff – such a monstrosity! Total monitoring of our school children by IT-programmes instead of dignified lessons by a human teacher. We don’t want that!
According to the theory of constructivism underlying the Curriculum 21, every child has to construct his own world (for example, to find his own way to calculate for solving a math problem). Thus, it would be “competent“, i.e. able to learn to be self-organising. As an instrument for the acquisition of “self-competence“, the tablet is recommended for every child beginning from kindergarten! – Insofar as the pie-in-the-sky theory. Evidentially in practice, it does not work with the great majority of children. Without the lessons from the teacher, they fail. But also the good learners are left in the lurch. Those who are only oriented towards one‘s own success are often atrophied in social terms. In the school class led by the experienced teacher, a model of coexistence and action is created, in addition to the learning community, which is of great importance for the life of every child.
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