The German Schools Abroad are to receive an additional 22 million euros in funding in 2016. Foreign Minister Steinmeier announced the good news at the opening of the annual Meeting of the Heads of the German Schools Abroad in the Weltsaal of the Federal Foreign Office on 6 January.
From Erbil to Abuja
There’s one in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil and one in the Nigerian capital Abuja. The 140 German Schools Abroad are situated not only in obvious places, but provide a first‑class education all around the world, sometimes under extremely difficult conditions. In his opening address at the Meeting of School Heads, Foreign Minister Steinmeier told the story of a partner school in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, which was rebuilt with German help following a grenade attack in 2014. The children couldn’t enjoy their school for long, because the building came under renewed attack at the beginning of 2015. Again, Germany helped with the reconstruction. For Foreign Minister Steinmeier, this story “aptly sums up foreign policy in times of crisis: progress is difficult and setbacks are almost foreseeable, but giving up is not an option! Since early September 2015, the secondary school has been operating normally. That sends a heartening message!”
Students retain lifelong ties with Germany
The Heads attending the meeting are responsible for around 82,000 pupils, 62,000 of whom are not from a German background. In his speech, Foreign Minister Steinmeier praised their work, and highlighted the importance of the German Schools Abroad: “You communicate in your schools what kind of country Germany is, which questions it asks itself, what its dark and bright sides are. You open up channels of understanding and create the basis for an education which often results in your graduates forming lifelong ties with our countries.” The German Schools Abroad have a much bigger role to play than merely promoting German as a foreign language. They are an advert for German culture. They create education opportunities locally and at the same time open doors to Germany.
Additional funds primarily for teachers
The importance of these tasks was recognised in the most recent round of budget negotiations in the German Bundestag, with parliament earmarking an additional 22 million euros for the German Schools Abroad in 2016. Two million euros will be used for construction measures and 20 million for teachers’ remuneration and the further qualitative expansion of the schools. Foreign Minister Steinmeier announced that, following the implementation of the new German Schools Abroad Act, teachers’ salaries would be modernised and, above all, made more family‑friendly.
“That will also make it easier for schools to attract good teachers. For good teachers are vital. They are the cornerstone of our schools abroad. We also want more to be done at the schools for inclusion, social measures and the further qualitative expansion.”
Federal Foreign Office Inclusion Prize
To signal the importance of inclusive education, the Federal Foreign Office Inclusion Prize for education projects was awarded at the meeting for the second time. First prize, worth 10,000 euros, went to the Europe School in Cairo for its project “Being different”. In simulated scenarios, pupils were able to experience various restrictions and disabilities for themselves, to increase their awareness of and sensitivity to fellow students with disabilities. Second prize, worth 5000 euros, went to the German School in Santiago and its project “Borderless”, in which role‑play and exercises encouraged children to appreciate diversity in their class, to recognise their own needs and those of others and to support each other. The 2500‑euro third prize went to the German School in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the project “Creativity, Action, Service”. Participants digitised teaching materials for a visually impaired pupil, so that he could access lessons. A special award was presented to the German School in Rio de Janeiro for its long‑standing engagement in this area.