Educationblog Five bloggers, five countries: In this blog, young people from Iraq, Germany, Argentina, Russia and Kenya discuss the state of education in their home countries as well as their own experiences in the school system. Fri, 20 Jul 2012 11:54:49 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Thank you! Fri, 20 Jul 2012 11:54:49 +0000 Five bloggers from Iraq, Germany, Kenya, Argentina and Russia spent two months blogging about their educational paths, the education systems in their countries and the degree to which those systems fulfil the goal of equal opportunity. DW would like to thank the authors for their interesting entries and lively discussions. We wish each of the bloggers all the best in their future endeavors!

Final reflections Thu, 12 Jul 2012 10:00:57 +0000

Out for a ride with time to think

The morning sun shines into my room, and birds are chirping. The two-month holiday at the language school where I’m working has just started. It’s a bit difficult to believe that the time for the last entry for this blog has already come. I still have lots of thoughts to share with our readers!

Lately I’ve been riding my bike in the countryside in the evenings – it’s a good chance to relax after a very full year and to improve my skills in photography. Along the way, I think a lot about the enormous difference between rural and urban areas in my country, and between their inhabitants’ mentalities. What’s difficult to explain is that many Russians would like to move outside the city and buy nice houses there, but most villagers prefer the idea of finding a job in the city (or at least sending their children to get educated there). Of course that’s due to the financial divide between these areas, but we need to make this division less extreme.

Apart from modernizing infrastructure and offering programs aimed at stimulating young teachers to work in village schools (or small towns) by offering them additional money for several month stays and providing them with accommodation, we also need to promote studying abroad. But at least when it comes to my own pupils, I have been really glad to talk to them and discover that practically all of them think globally.

A toast to the first year of my friends' start-up

What are my expectations for the future? As I said in the very beginning, I’m the kind of person who embraces change. I’d like to try something new – not as a hobby, but as a job. Now a couple of my friends and I are working on an Internet-based project which will try to encourage people to waste less time online. Like Kathrin mentioned, the Internet can be great for learning, but it also presents plenty of distractions. I guess that as technology develops, we’re bound to see more edutainment (a combination of education and entertainment) in this sphere.

When we started the blog, I never would have thought how interesting it would turn out to be. I got impressions of educational systems in other countries, got to know my fellow bloggers more and got somehow inspired by what they discussed. It’s a pity there are regions that prevent citizens’ voices from being heard (as in Hellgurd’s case). However, youth can be an enormous force for change. I do hope there will be chances to work together with Hellgurd, Maria, Emmy and Kathrin on other projects – why not on our own?

Last but not least… Wed, 11 Jul 2012 10:00:00 +0000

Much still to learn...

It may be a wrap for this blog, but it is definitely not a wrap for the issues we have talked about. The convergence of more than 2,000 participants from over 100 nations who attended the three-day DW Global Media Forum to discuss “Culture. Education. Media – Shaping a Sustainable Future” was testimony for me that this discussion just got started at another level.

For me as a media professional with a background in education, it was interesting to see around 500 colleagues in media, including bloggers, meeting with policymakers, businesspeople, academics and representatives of civil society organizations to share their experiences and ideas.
The role of individuals, organizations and governments in propelling more inclusive, better quality education for all was a topic I enjoyed reading on, discussing and learning more about including during the conference. I believe in trying out solutions and implementing them – not just talking about them. But I feel like I have more to talk about now. Educational issues jump out at me more than before. Newspaper articles, discussions among friends, news on TV: Everything seems to have something to do with education, thanks to writing the blog.

Well, it is bye-bye for this blog, and I hope that the discussion will be carried on offline and online. I plan to continue my work with youth, training them to use media to tell stories – including on educational issues.

I also intend to further my education and pursue a PhD, most likely in information and communications technology as well as in development, as these are issues that I am passionate about. Perhaps I will start a new blog soon about research, media and education in the near future.

Looking back on the blog Tue, 10 Jul 2012 11:00:47 +0000

Hellgurd, Emmy, Gaby from DW, Kathrin and me

Reading Pavel’s last entry as well as the one where he discussed the value of a degree, I’ve been thinking, too, about the value of studying foreign languages. It’s not just about new grammar and vocabulary, or being able to translate from one language to another. From my view, the value of doing so has more to do with learning how to express your ideas in a different culture – through a different perspective and perhaps in a context that helps everyone broaden their views. At the Global Media Forum, I met a number of people who serve as good examples of what I mean.

Simon was one. We met randomly at a table and introduced ourselves to each other. When I told him I’m from Buenos Aires, he said he had been there and liked it a lot, and that he actually speaks Spanish. When I asked him about his professional background, he told me about an initiative called Vensenya, a name made up of two Spanish words: “vencer,” which could be translated as “conquer”, “defeat”, “break”; and “enseñar,” which means “teaching.” The word “vencer” is particularly significant to Spanish speakers, especially in Latin America, considering its historical associations with political struggle and combat. Vensenya is about breaking down dogmas in our approach to education. The concept that their creators came up with can be grasped in a snap. This is not just a question of speaking another language. It shows how understanding another culture can find its expression in language.

At the DW headquarters in Bonn

More often than not, in the context of international dialogue, you find that concerns are shared across borders. Education systems pose challenges in every country. What differs is the social context and the historical path of each nation.

In this entry, I have touched on all of the things that made me enjoy writing this blog so much. On the one hand, it has been a struggle on many occasions. Putting societies in context and accounting for cultural nuances is hard. But on the other hand, it has been greatly satisfying throughout.

We must be open to reform Mon, 09 Jul 2012 17:15:34 +0000

Election posters support preserving the Gymnasium in Germany

Today I’m writing my last post for this blog. For two months we’ve been blogging about education in our home countries. I’ve learned a lot about education in other parts of the world, but also about the German system.

When talking about these subjects, I recognize a certain pattern: Often an education system’s performance is only evaluated by looking at the numbers of students who go on to get higher degrees or earn better marks – in other words, those who seem more prepared for the job market. But there is another factor that makes the educational system tremendously valuable to a society. And this factor is related to the discussion with my friend Katharina that I posted: Pre-schools and schools offer a very important opportunity to bring the members of a society closer together. Yet, Germany doesn’t fully seize this opportunity. On the contrary, the three-tiered school tracking system in many German states furthers the division of our society.

While I had contact with children from all across the social spectrum during my time in elementary school, I stayed friends mostly with students who were also able to go on to a Gymnasium after fourth grade (To have a better idea of what I mean, have a look at my overview of the German school system here). Only at 17 did I hang out with my old classmates again. By then, they had finished other kinds of schools known in German as Hauptschulen or Realschulen. These reunions are traditional in our village: Those who are 18 years old organize a festival each summer. In many cities, traditions like this don’t exist anymore, and neighborhoods and social clubs tend to be divided up along class lines. Schools could be one of the few places left to work against our society breaking apart into separate classes because all children have to attend them.

Politicians often neglect this fact. In the state of Rhineland Palatinate they have abandoned the concept of the Hauptschule. There wasn’t a lot of resistance against this reform. The existence of the Gymnasium wasn’t questioned. Many students attending a Gymnasium and their parents regard their school as a symbol of their achievement and status. Yet, these students miss a lot of opportunities for learning how to socialize with other groups of people. They can also lose sight of the realities faced by many people living in their country.

My high school - a gymnasium - offered a rather cloistered environment

It is still understandable that many parents don’t worry about this as long as their children will have better chances in the job market. They think that their children will learn more easily in this protected environment. Research to the contrary is often powerless against such convictions. For this reason, many parents organized demonstrations when the Gymnasium was to be abandoned in Hamburg. And politicians in Germany’s liberal party proclaimed on their posters during the election campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia: “Keep the Gymnasium!”

Can we thus regard the fact that politicians don’t touch the Gymnasium as an election strategy? After all, the most politically active people usually send their children to one. In the socially disadvantaged parts of society, on the other hand, children often don’t make it to a Gymnasium, and there are very few people who would organize any kind of demonstrations or collect signatures or step up in front of a camera to make their point. Additionally, these people vote less often than those with a higher income and a better education.

I would like for committed politicians throughout Germany to no longer regard the Gymnasium as “untouchable” in the future. I also want them to support reforms that will really bring about fair opportunities and stronger cohesion in our society. After all, we have so many more financial resources in Germany than many other countries have. Shouldn’t it be possible to come closer to realizing these goals?

Bild1: FDP-Wahlplakat währen NRW-Wahlkampf

Bild2: Mein Gymnasium bot ein sehr behütetes Umfeld: Es war ein katholisches Mädchengymnasium