The worldwide network of German schools abroad is designed to cater for the needs of Germans who are working abroad and who want their children to have a German education. Most of them are “contact” institutions today and admit children from the host country and other nations, allowing them to get to know Germany, its culture and language.
German schools abroad therefore provide the opportunity for children from different cultures to meet and engage in dialogue. They are particularly suited to prepare pupils from various countries and cultural Backgrounds for a shared future.
Supervised by the Federal Foreign Office, the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) promotes and advises German schools abroad, and also organizes programmes which second teachers to the state education systems in partner countries with the support of its specialist advisers and coordinators.
German schools abroad – a public-private partnership
The system of German schools abroad is the oldest example of a future-oriented public-private partnership. The schools are run by independent bodies. They raise much of their funding (on average 70 percent of the school budget) themselves through fees and donations. Some schools are also supported by their host countries.
The Central Agency for Schools Abroad is currently providing personnel and financial support to 140 German schools in 72 countries with about 82,000 pupils. These schools are attended by 60,000 non-German children and thus have a direct impact on the societies of the host countries. Around 600 teenagers are being prepared for commercial careers in technical and vocational colleges using the German dual system. In total, more than 2000 German teachers are currently on secondment to the supported schools. In addition, there are more than 6900 local teachers. In 2011, the seconded teachers were financed from the Federal Foreign Office schools fund to the tune of 152.5 million euros and around six million euros were provided from the Federal Foreign Office construction fund.
In addition to the 140 German schools abroad, the Federal Foreign Office is currently supporting 1100 schools around the world which offer the German Language Certificate of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (DSD). In 2051, some 377,0700 pupils were taught German at these schools and a total of around 74,000 of them took German-language and German and international school-leaving exams there. Some 14,500 of them took the exam for the Stage II German Language Certificate (DSD II). By passing the DSD II, school-leavers around the world meet the German-language requirements for university-level education in Germany.
The teacher secondment programmes play a significant role in ensuring that the German language is now a fixture in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe as well as in the territory of the former Soviet Union (CIS states). There, as well as in the Baltic states and Mongolia, German teachers ensure that German as a foreign language can be introduced and further developed at schools which offer the German Language Certificate and that subjects can be taught in German.
German schools abroad create alumni networks
Around two thirds of pupils at German schools abroad come from the host countries. Many go on to attend German universities 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. Experience has shown that these young students are high-fliers in their chosen disciplines. This, in turn, is evidence of the high quality of German schools abroad.
Within the framework of the “Schools: Partners for the Future” initiative, the DAAD scholarship programme for graduates of German schools abroad and partner schools was expanded significantly in 2008. The number of full grants for study in Germany was doubled from 60 to 120 and was advertised internationally for the first time. Another novelty is the BIDS programme (BetreuungsInitiative Deutsche Auslands- und PartnerSchulen), a support initiative for German schools abroad and partner schools which is aimed at German universities. The goal is to improve direct contact between German universities and the schools abroad and partner schools to attract more students. Assistance is provided in the form of motivational scholarships, personnel for intensive support as well as contributions in the shape of equipment or travel expenses to foster cooperation with specific schools abroad and/or partner schools.
For German firms the network of German schools abroad is a major factor in the secondment of staff and their families. The schools take this into account and, wherever possible, react to changes in political and economic priorities.
Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA):
The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany
Information in English
International Association of German schools abroad
Website (in German)
Organization of German teachers abroad
Website (in German)