Development Education in Germany

Development Education

Development Education in Germany

Historical Background

Education on development issues in Germany began in the late SOs. Almost all of the major non-governmental organisations (hereafter NGOs) now active in the field nf DE were founded in the late 50s or early 60s in the Federal Republic of Germany, or have grown from initiatives started then.
The term NGO covers the whole spectrum, from the smallest lest action groups nr initiatives active on a community level (often generally known as grassroots movements), to large development aid organisations acting on a national nr international scale.

First Phase: 'An uneasy conscience makes itself felt'

The beginning of the economic boom following the hard post-war years saw the founding, nr the first steps towards the founding, of numerous NGOs. The motives for the establishment of these NGOs were varied, as were their principles and objectives, and their financial sources. In the NGOs' early years, development aid was first and foremost the provision of material aid - foodstuffs, for example. Public relations work was limited accordingly to provoking feelings of commiseration and compassion in order to push donations as high as possible. There was still very little sign of development work or education as we know it today.
Publications and relevant literature nf the period written for the German public were mostly in an accusatory tone and appealed to Christian morals. Already, the first slide-shows and videos nn development issues were being produced.
The film and television media, mostly in the form of documentaries, also simply served to record the situation of the reporters and their perspective. The reporters as researchers or adventurers whose travel studies smacked of colonialism - civilised `man' amongst savages.
The federal German government, represented by the Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ - German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), saw development aid firstly as a foreign policy tool. It was not until a social democrat-liberal coalition took over in 1969 that development needs took their place next to the political necessities.

Second Phase: 'The seeds of a new social movement'

In the late 60s and early 70s, the motivation and direction of development information and policy changed, not least due to the influence of a so-called new social movement. NGOs sprouted like mushrooms, mostly small groups that formed around political issues such as women's rights, the environment, international solidarity and development, or disarmament. Their oppositional stance and social criticism brought fresh air onto the development scene.
The numerous action groups, information centres and Third World shops and centres, that still see themselves as part of the international solidarity movement today, were almost all formed during this period.
In 1969, the Institute for International Co-operation nf the Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband (DVV - German Adult Education Association) was formed. The educational institution of Volkshochschule (Communal Adult Education Centre) is one of Germany's oldest and was established in 1830 for the education of the workers. The Institute, apart from providing advice and support for adult education in the South (and elsewhere), sees its task in the promotion of an understanding of the South amongst the Adult Education Centres' large public - the medium mainly lying in the crafts, arts, music and languages of those countries, on which courses are offered.
In 1977, a national coordination forum was created for the numerous and far-flung arms of the `Third World Solidarity Movement': the Bundeskongress Entwicklungspolitischer Aktionsgruppen (BUKO- Federal Congress nf Development Policy Action Groups). BUKO brought together all the Third World groups, solidarity committees and grassroot initiatives and enabled them to coordinate their various workplans, campaigns and actions so as to heighten their political weight and influence. Since the late 80s the organisation has been concentrating more on thematic focal points such as the arms industry or the pharmaceutical industry. It also srongly criticised the German government's development policies.
ln I979, the independent Projekt Dritte Welt iil der Grundschule (Third World Project in the Primary School) was formed by the Arbeitskreis Grundschule e. V. (Third World Project in Primary Schools). It now organises the nationwide distribution of teaching materials for primary schools, in class sets with a teacher's handbook, and compiles curricula on the subject Third World/0ne World for quarterly distribution.
The pedagogic euphoria of the 70s produced a flood of didactic materials on development issues. School curricula were revised and studies on `Third World/ Development Policies' became available in most schools, although at first confined to subjects such as geography, history or religious studies.
A wave of Third World information publications hit the print media market. Documentaries and overseas reports in the visual media showed the increasing influence of the new awareness towards the developing world. Criticism of colonialist and imperialist tendencies came the fore, reporting was characterised by political involvement and spoke up for the interests of the Third World.
The 70s also saw the birth of the phenomenon `mass tourism'. Germans invaded the beaches of Europe in huge numbers and these beaches were soon smothered under high-rise hotel blocks. Before long, however, the Cape Verde Islands had taken the place of the Spanish Costa Brava, and the Italian Riviera was replaced by Tunisia. to name just two examples. Voices were raised in condemnation of this form of tourism, `alternative' travel agencies and Third World groups called for awareness tourism' : holiday-making more compatible with environmental and social considerations. But, although a large majority of Germans were able to take the opportunity of travelling to far-off countries and continents, they did not necessarily show improved knowledge of the lives and situation of the people in those countries, nor a better understanding of immigrants in Germany, their lives and their reasons for being there. Erhard Eppler was Minister for Economic Cooperation under a social democratic-liberal coalition from 1968- 74, and during his period of office, DE became a constitutive part of government development policy.

Third Phase: 'Together we are better'

In the 80s, the trend was towards more cooperation, both in content and administration; informal coalitions were formed by the larger NGOs, coordinating centres were set up in various fields and networks were created on virtually all levels of DE. This tendency to join forces and arrange networks is no doubt one logical consequence of the fact that organisations and activities in this field had multiplied to the point of confusion. A great deal of consideration was still being given to the problem of how to communicate development issues in the school context, how to raise receptiveness for North- South correlations amongst schoolchildren and how best to give support in this to teachers.
The Dritte-Welt-Haus (DWH - Third World House) Bielefeld was set up in I980. It is a coalition of several development aid and church groups and works to educate and create awareness in the Bielefeld region. The organisation's many publications have helped it to nationwide recognition; the DWH is also a member of the Pedagngisches Werkstattgesprach (Pedagogic Workshop).

Since 1986, the educational foundation (Bildungswerk) of the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB - German Trade Union Association) has made DE an integral part of its work. Then, in 1987, the foundation formed a North-South Network. The main objective of this Network, apart from the reinforcement of DE within the organisation in general, was to improve coordination and cooperation with individual trade union groups, whose activities in the field of international solidarity had been more or less ignored by their umbrella association, the DGB. The North-South Network produces relevant materials, organises discussions, seminars and workshops, and sponsors solidarity groups and projects.
The basis of the Network's activities is the realisation that trade unions in the developing world are often the most important social bodies in the fight for workers' rights.
The Kölner Aufruf (Cologne Appeal) of 1985 set the ball rolling. This petition was intended to strengthen community North-South activities and draw people into more active participation in development cooperation and the North-South discussion. In 1986, the European action campaign `Towns and Development' was started. Today,13 countries are involved in the campaign which is carried by town and city federations and NGO networks. Germany was represented on the NGO side by the Deutsche Welthungerhilfe and terre des hommes. The Deutsche Stadtetag (official alliance of communities from all German regional states) represented the community level and in the following years was to play a more active role in the attainment of the objectives mentioned above.

During the European Council's North-South Campaign in 1988, about 50 North-South fora were formed with the support of `Towns and Development'; these fora have had their own coordination bureau since 1988. Their objective is to provide assistance for local NGOs, help with activities and to make better use of available (political and administrative) facilities.
The strengthening of community structures in the field of development cooperation, education and awareness-building was directly linked to the formation and support of partnerships with communities in developing countries; this includes and encourages exchange on all levels, for example, administration, culture, school, adult education.

The Arbeitskreis Entwicklungspolitischer Bildungs- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit (AEBÖ - Working Group for Development Education and Information) is the informal alliance of the PR, education and information officers of all the larger German development aid organisations. They have been holding regular meetings since 1978. The AEBÖ's importance as an integrational sociopolitical body stems from the fact that it brings together representatives of political foundations, Church welfare organisations of both confessions, as well as independent sponsors and other independent institutions. One of the AEBÖ's objectives is the exchange of information and internal coordination of projects, aims and problems in the field of education and public relations. The AEBÖ also publicises specific joint projects such as the Development Guide. In addition to this, the body issues manuals for MP's of the Federal Parliament (at election times) and declarations on problematic development issues in the form of press notices or letters to government representatives. A speaker is regularly chosen. It was decided within the AEBÖ to hold regular meetings to discuss pedagogical issues.
Since 1988, education officers from the most important German NGOs have been meeting twice a year within the Padagogisches Werkstattgesprach (Pedagogic Workshop) to discuss, update and exchange information on developmentally relevant pedagogical affairs. Another important function of the Padagogisches Werkstattgesprach is lobbying: depending on events, the body writes or commissions assessments, demands or commentaries that are agreed upon by all members. On several occasions in the past, it has worked as a voting panel. In this way, it formulated the demand for an information and coordination office for teachers (`Schulstelle') for the federal state of Northrhine Westphalia, directed this demand to the relevant Ministries and worked out a concept for this coordination office, with the result that the Northrhine Westphalian teacher training institute is to receive this office in 1994.

There is a specific department of the BMZ which is responsible for surveying DE in Germany and providing funding applied for by NG Os for materials and activities (not to be confused with the BMZ public relations department which has the task of publicising and explaining government development policies). This department sought to work more closely with NGOs and experts on contemporary issues in the field and allowed itself to be advised by them. In the late 70s and early 80s, just as the hopes of the Third World movement were disappointed, and revolutions around the world failed, the `Third World film' was in a state of crisis. Filmwork representing the interests of the developing world experienced a backward trend, returning to the perspective of pity and concentrating on misery, with appeals for donations as a parting shot.
At this point, mention should be made of the spectacular `Day for Africa' in 1985, on the occasion of which the major NGOs used all the means and the media at their disposal in order to show how desperate the situation was in many African countries and encouraged millions of Germans to donate for the continent's starving people. The awesome media extravaganza prompted many to reconsider the purpose and the methods of educational work and awareness building in the field.

NGDO-EC Liaison Committee: Development Education Group