Thomas de Maizière has been Chairman of the Deutsche Telekom non-profit Foundation since November 2018. From 1994 to 1998, he headed the State Chancellery in Schwerin and from 1999, served as State Minister in the Free State of Saxony. In 2001, he moved to the Ministry of Finance as Saxon Minister of State, in 2002, to the Ministry of Justice and in 2004, to the Ministry of the Interior. In 2005, Thomas de Maizière became head of the Federal Chancellery, four years later Federal Minister of the Interior.
From 2011 to 2013, he was appointed Federal Minister of Defence and from December 2013, to March 2018, he served as Federal Minister of the Interior again. He has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2009, humbly serving as a directly elected member of parliament.
By increasing the reach of your investments and their results as quickly as possible, for example through cooperation with other foundations. The Education Digitalization Forum we initiated works like this. Another very successful cooperation project is the “House of Little Researchers,” which introduces three-to-six-year-olds to the topics of science and technology in kindergartens. The project is funded on a large scale by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, foundations and other partnerships, and has thus gained an enormous reach. Wherever we do something specific, we do it alone, in our own name. In this respect, we always have to weigh things; do we want to be recognizable by our name or do we want to reach more people, more schools, more educational institutions – including extracurricular ones – together with others? We are trying to find a good mix between the two.
When it comes to “specialists,” everyone thinks of engineers who develop apps worthy of the Nobel prize. But we also need what we call “skilled workers” in the analogue world at all levels of qualification in the IT world. For example, to lay cables for appropriate connections and repair work. That’s why we shouldn’t just focus on academic functions and universities. We also need corresponding offers in the area of vocational training. As a foundation, we cannot reach or satisfy the entire field of education, but we can show others that this is how it could be done.
We focus on this age group because educational biographies are decided at this age, but also because many young people lose the desire to learn during this phase. This often has something to do with didactics, in other words with forms of teaching or with how the pupils are addressed. How do I teach a rule of three, for example, so that a pupil does not lose the desire to learn a solution? In the future, we will try even harder to act as a model in schools so that the pupils’ desire and joy in learning, but also in constructing, doing handicrafts and in realising themselves, is simply strengthened. This also creates a tendency to make such a thing a profession.
If you ask students directly, “Would you like to become an IT specialist?” then many probably say “No.” But if you instead ask, “Do you want to not just use a smartphone, but to build computers and understand what happens inside your smartphone? Do you enjoy developing something together with others and not just on your own? If you want to do that, the MINT section could be of interest to you.” Maybe we have to separate ourselves from narrow technical terms like mathematics, physics and chemistry. For many, this already creates a hurdle. If instead you talk about developing something, being creative, experiencing new things, being able to concentrate, then I think it makes you enjoy IT and mathematics much more quickly.
Through meaningful support that does not burden, because a lot is already expected from schools. They should promote democracy, teach arithmetic, reading, writing, as well as swimming and cycling. They should promote health behaviour, good nutrition, be against racism, teach how to file a tax return and write a cover letter for a job application. Schools should do all of this, but they are totally overloaded with these tasks. That’s why we as a foundation are increasingly trying to link schools and extracurricular activities. This also has an effect on schools, for example in that children are not only left to their mobile phones for hours during the afternoons at allday schools.
Yes! and perhaps the example of our early musical education is a good one. There are many ways to learn to play the violin, but the use of an instrument must always be explained, evaluated, improved, corrected and, in case of doubt, simply discontinued. When instructing children how to handle instruments, this all too often neglected in communication today. Perhaps this is because smartphones, children’s computers and their operation are so self-explanatory. This is neither good for the use itself nor for the development of young people.
Questions from parents like, “What are you doing there? Could you explain that to me?” would be the first step in turning the child from the user to the creative designer of the device. This is a key qualification for school and for education, especially in the MINT subjects. By the way, saying something like that first and foremost at home also has a lot to do with safety: protecting children and adolescents from fraudsters, traps, viruses, basically cybercrime. When we don’t make young people aware of the importance of using the Internet responsibly, external rules, state intervention and counselling services are of little help.
At the press conference following the cancellation of the international football match in Hanover, my concern was to conceal the possibility of another attack. As a minister responsible for security, to achieve this goal you must talk intelligently around the issue – just as politicians often have to do. But comparable situations such as cyber-attacks on public infrastructures and the security operations of our country can occur. Look at so-called critical infrastructure, which can also be privately owned, for example, transfer centres of savings banks or network transmission centres for electricity or telecommunications supply. The state must do something about this. It is already doing something about it, and it must continue to do so, but the private companies themselves must also do something about this: the railways, the postal service, Deutsche Telekom and its competitors, large hospitals, banks and energy providers. This is a major and ongoing task.
Even Wikipedia will not be the only blessed Brockhaus of the future. But the fact that the platform today enjoys a relatively high degree of seriousness has to do with internal quality criteria and their linkage with a systemic corrective. We find that more or less reliably in the print sector as well. For example, I can’t do without my own judgement at the newspaper kiosk. Which magazine do I take? And when I buy one that everyone knows is full of talk, rumours and gossip, I have to ask myself first, “Do I want to be amused by the gossip or do I really want to believe it?” In other words, it does not work without people’s ability to judge – neither a democracy, nor reasonable buying or environmental behaviour, nor the use of the Internet.
“It does not work without people’s ability to judge – neither a democracy, nor reasonable buying or environmental behaviour, nor the use of the Internet.”