For the first time the World Congress of German schools abroad is meeting in Berlin, in close proximity to the Federal Government. There are good reasons for this. These education institutions are not simply schools for German families abroad, but have long been part of Germany’s foreign cultural and education policy. Three quarters of the pupils are not German. Against the background of the demographic development and the looming skills shortage, German schools abroad are held in particularly high esteem. Many of the cross-culturally educated graduates from the host countries later study at a German university and remain connected with Germany in their professional life.
Altogether, German schools abroad comprise about 1,700 schools, including more than 140 German schools abroad, about 1,000 schools offering the German Language Diploma of the Standing Conference of Education Ministers (DSD schools), and approximately 550 other schools where German language instruction is new or being expanded (“fit schools”). More than half a million pupils are now taught at these schools, with the numbers continually rising because of the popularity of German as a foreign language.
Study on public value
What makes the German schools abroad valuable to society? A research project of the World Association of (WDA) and the University of St. Gallen, sponsored by the Siemens Foundation, has studied the question about the public value of these schools. Details will be presented in Berlin, but it is already clear in advance, apart from all statistical indicators, what German schools abroad succeed in doing: as cultural and linguistic ambassadors, they contribute, according to those surveyed, to the reputation of the “brand” Germany in the world. They stand not only for excellent education, but also for social integration, international understanding, equality of opportunity and achievement orientation. Particular strengths of the schools are also seen in their being promoters of foreign cultural and education policy and economic partnerships.
German schools abroad World Congress under the motto “Education Worldwide. Opportunities Worldwide”, 4 to 7 June 2014 in Berlin