Learning without borders - Conference of German Schools Abroad in Berlin
More than 130 school principals are meeting from 4th January in Berlin. Their schools do not just ensure that children all over the world can be taught in German. In fact, from Chile to Indonesia, German and local children can together complete their university entrance qualification, the Abitur ‑ an encounter that stays with them for life.
From Asunción to Shanghai, “Guten Morgen” is chorused at eight o’clock in the morning not just in classrooms in Germany but also in German schools abroad all around the world. Those attending a German school abroad are learning in a special place. After all, the curriculum of the more than 140 schools abroad does not just feature maths, English and German. The schools abroad are places for children of different cultures to meet and engage in dialogue. After all, it is usually not just the children of Germans living abroad who learn there but also of course local children, as well over the world, the German education system has an excellent reputation.
Most German schools abroad are international schools. Lessons are given both in German and in the local language. German and local pupils thus get to know two languages and cultures at an early age. They can conclude their schooling with the German Abitur, the university entrance qualification thus opening the door to German universities and the German labour market.
Creating places where people can meet
Around two-thirds of pupils at German schools abroad come from the host countries. Many go on to attend German universities after they complete their Abitur and retain links to Germany in their future careers. This leads to networks on which foreign policy, exports and culture can be based. To exploit that potential to an even better extent, the German Government, via the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), has since 2001 offered full scholarships to study in Germany to the best non-German school-leavers.
That is why German schools abroad are a key component in our cultural relations and education policy. Accountable to the Federal Foreign Office, the Central Agency for Schools Abroad advises German schools abroad. The Federal Foreign Office has set itself the important goals of creating places where pupils can come face to face with the society and culture of the host country, ensuring schooling for German children abroad and promoting German as a foreign language around the world.
German schools abroad form a network spanning the world. More than 80,000 pupils in 70 countries attend German schools. The Federal Federal Foreign Office also promotes more than 1000 schools which offer intensive German lessons and the German Language Certificate of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany. This means a further 300,000 pupils are benefiting every year.
The principals and teachers working in schools abroad face particular challenges. How does inclusion work in Sweden? How do we best protect the school building in Erbil? How do we best encourage Japanese school graduates to study in Germany? The annual meeting of principals is very important for the network of German schools abroad as it provides an opportunity to discuss key developments in education and develop new strategies.