Open letter “Decolonize orientation framework!” published

A joint working group of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK) published the Orientation Framework for Global Development Education in 2007. This has emerged in recent years as a frame of reference for (extra-) school activities of Global Learning and Education for Sustainable Development. In the last two years, the orientation framework has been revised and expanded by the working group, but without criticisms v.a. from postcolonial and migrant-diasporic perspectives, which have been repeatedly a.o. on joint panel participations, inquiries, publications on power- and racism-critical analyses to the current orientation framework were brought in. Now, since mid-July 2014, the revised version of the orientation framework has been available for public discussion on the Internet.

glokal, together with karfi, moveglobal, Berlin Postkolonial and IMAFREDU, used the summer break to hold a two-day working meeting at the end of August to jointly analyze the new version of the Orientation Framework and to draft the Open Letter “Decolonize Orientation Framework!”. More than 80 migrant-diasporic, racism-critical and postcolonial initiatives, organizations, associations and academics co-signed the letter within a few days. This makes it very clear that the demands are supported by a broad alliance of academia and practice, and that migrant-diasporic, critical of racism, and postcolonial perspectives need to be heard in Germany. The letter is still welcome to be forwarded and signed.

In our initial analysis, we concluded that the Framework – even in its draft revision – does not live up to its own claim and goal of transformative education.

The central demands of the letter are therefore:

Demand 1: Migrant-diasporic and civil society experts as well as experts from the Global South must be actively and significantly involved in the revision of the Framework with their different perspectives.

Demand 2: The Framework needs to be revised to use gender- and discrimination-sensitive language that acknowledges the realities of Germany’s classrooms and civil society and actively considers all students (regardless of origin, class, religion, legal status, etc…) as a target group.

Demand 3: The theoretical framing of the orientation framework must identify its ideological foundations, abandon its hegemonic perspective and address alternatives to the development paradigm and the dominant sustainability discourse.

Requirement 4: Categories of analysis such as gender, class, and “race” must be included. Capitalism and neoliberalism as dominant economic and social systems must be named and critically addressed.

Demand 5: The orientation framework must take up the stories of enslavement, colonial violence, racism and economic exploitation, but also of self-assertion and resistance, and encourage people to understand the 500-year – also German – colonial history as directly affecting the present.

Demand 6: The orientation framework must live up to its claim of enabling transformative education also in the formulation of options for action. To this end, all those involved in schools should be given access to emancipatory knowledge and options for action that change society, in order to promote their development into mature and critical people.

Requirement 7: If the claims postulated in the orientation framework are to be fulfilled and the work is actually to contribute to a more just world, the revision process cannot be completed by the end of 2014 as planned. Rather, taking into account the fundamental deficits listed here, this process must be relaunched with an open mind and transferred to a much broader and continuous social dialogue.

A public hearing on the new version of the Orientation Framework will be held in Bad Honnef from September 3-4, 2014. We will bring the perspectives of the letter there and will report on everything else.