Education and research


Latin America is constantly becoming more important in the sphere of science, research and innovation. The growing internationalisation of academic cooperation is reflected in the large number of collaborations between German and Latin American universities and research institutes.

Vocational training – dual training system

An apprentice at a German company in Irapuato (Mexico) takes measurements. The apprentices are trained using the German dual training system.
An apprentice at a German company in Irapuato (Mexico) takes measurements. The apprentices are trained using the German dual training system.© Thomas Köhler/photothek.net

In many Latin America countries, there is keen interest in the German dual system of vocational training. This kind of training is thus an important focus of bilateral relations with many partners in the region. For example, in recent years, the countries of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru) have shown increased interest and, as an observer country, Germany is playing an active role when it comes to vocational training.

Research cooperation

Latin America's role in the sphere of science, research and innovation is growing constantly. National investment in education and research is generating progress, and the region is becoming an increasingly important partner for Germany as a result. The growing internationalisation of academic cooperation is reflected in the large number of collaborations between German and Latin American universities and research institutes.

More and more German researchers are finding interesting research partners in Latin America. In 2010, for example, the first Fraunhofer Institute in Latin America was set up in the Chilean capital Santiago. In Argentina, increased cooperation on research led to the establishment of the CONICET - Partner Institute of the Max Planck Society (2011) and of a branch of the Max Planck Society in Buenos Aires (2014) and of the Max Planck Laboratory in Rosario (2014). A forum for events and services by German scientific organisations was created in São Paulo in Brazil with the inauguration of the German House of Science and Innovation.

Cooperation at universities

Academic cooperation has also become more important in the university sector, resulting in a large number of successful collaborations. As part of the Research and Academic Relations Initiative, three of a total of four centres of excellence worldwide were set up in Latin America – The Corporation Center of Excellency in Marine Sciences (CEMarin) in Colombia, the German-Colombian Peace Institute and the Heidelberg Center in Santiago. The German-Argentine University Centre promotes academic cooperation and the development of binational degree courses at German and Argentine universities.

Academic exchange is developing just as dynamically. Relatively few German students and academics opt to study or engage in research in the region. The number of German Academic Exchange Service fellows from Latin America has however risen significantly over the past years. The great interest is also reflected in the large number of grant programmes that are co-financed and co-run with partner countries. For example, in the period from 2012 to July 2016, the Brazilian Government’s academic travel programme, Ciência sem Fronteiras (Science without Borders) helped around 6500 students, PhD candidates and post-doctoral candidates to study at a German university. As a result of the economic crisis in Brazil, the programme has now been suspended. The same holds true for the cooperation programmes UNIBRAL and UNIBRAL II concluded between the Brazilian and German Education Ministries in 2000 and 2008 to promote cooperation between universities in the two countries. The programmes were implemented by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and its Brazilian partner organisation CAPES and facilitated exchanges for German and Brazilian students, post-doctoral candidates and professors as well as cooperation between faculties of the two countries. In 2017, the two programmes were integrated into the regular DAAD programmes International Study and Training Partnerships (ISAP) and International Degree Programmes with a Double Degree.

Promotion of the German language

While English is definitely the foreign language of first choice in Latin America, there is great interest in what Europe has to offer in the cultural sphere. One reason for this is that many Latin Americans have German roots. This also explains why the German language is comparatively strong in the region. There are 760 schools in Latin America where German is taught. Around 350,000 pupils in the region are now learning German.

The PASCH initiative

The initiative Schools: Partners for the Future (PASCH) was launched by the Federal Foreign Office in February 2008. The goal is to create a worldwide network of German-language partner schools. The aim of this initiative is to encourage young people’s interest in contemporary Germany and the German language.

The initiative’s network in Latin America now numbers 192 partner schools. These include 37 German schools abroad, 85 schools offering the German Language Certificate (DSD) and 70 schools starting up or expanding German teaching programmes (FIT schools).

Most of the German schools in Latin America were founded by German immigrants for their children and their neighbours’ children, some of them 150 years ago. They have now developed into major international schools and include the largest such school worldwide: Porto Seguro in São Paulo with a total of some 10,000 pupils, most of whom are Brazilian. Seven of these schools have vocational training centres, which primarily offer business training courses based on German models.

The main vehicles for promoting interest in the German language in Latin America also include the 15 Goethe-Institut branches, which offer German classes as well as training courses for teachers of German. Latin America also has ten Goethe-Zentren, 33 German Academic Exchange Service lectorships and 31 funded German-partner country cultural associations.

German in higher education

Some 345 universities in Latin America offer German studies or German language programmes. In total, they have some 2500 students enrolled in German studies programmes and some 41,000 students learning German as a foreign language alongside their main subject. The growing demand for German classes at universities reflects a global trend towards more practical language learning. The German Academic Exchange Service also promotes partnerships between German studies departments at German and Latin American universities. It is currently supporting the following partnerships in Latin America:

  • In Brazil: University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre – Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • In Colombia: Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín – Freiburg University of Education
  • In Chile: Deutsches Lehrerbildungsinstitut W. v. Humboldt (LBI) – Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)
  • In Cuba: Universidad de la Habana, Havana - Gießen University

German as a foreign language in school tends to be offered mainly in southern Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and southern Brazil), where a significant proportion of the population is of German descent. A considerable number of universities in these countries have German studies departments, but some of their students have only very limited German language skills. The aim of inter-faculty German language classes, which are mainly given by DAAD lectors, is to remedy this situation.

Out-of-school German language programmes

In some countries, German language courses for adults are only provided by the Goethe-Institut, Goethe Centres and German-partner country cultural societies. In a few metropolitan areas (such as São Paulo, Mexico City and Buenos Aires) there are also a limited number of commercial providers of German courses.

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