On 13 May, Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, and Eric Schweitzer, President of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), presented three prizes endowed with a total of 80,000 euros to the winners of the 4th German Schools Abroad Competition 2014.
The motto of this year’s award ceremony was “Pupils build bridges worldwide”. Prizes were awarded to German schools in Turkey, Ireland and Chile: first prize and a cash sum of 40,000 euros went to the German department at the Istanbul Lisesi, whose project “No Abitur yet, but already a student” paves the way for academically gifted pupils to study in Germany. The second prize and 25,000 euros was won by the German school St Kilian in Dublin for its environmental activities as a “Green School”. The German school in Santiago de Chile won the third prize with its social project “C.A.S.A.” (Centro de Acción Social del Alemán) and was awarded 15,000 euros.
Importance of German schools abroad
In her speech, the Minister of State stressed the outstanding importance of the German schools abroad: due to the demographic development and the shortage of skilled workers, their work will be ever more important. Böhmer went on to say that the competition thus demonstrated the special recognition of the German business community and emphasised after the event:
The successful engagement of German industry around the world would not be possible without the work of the German schools abroad.
Schools build bridges to Germany
The Minister of State said that the schools offered an excellent education for the children of those working for German companies abroad. Thanks to the fact that they welcome children of all nationalities, however, the schools were increasingly functioning as bridges to Germany:
The German schools are a vibrant expression of our culture of welcome. They are the most enduring means of instilling enthusiasm for our country, language and culture in young people. They gain the hearts of young people around the world and help our country in the global competition to attract the brightest brains.
The Minister of State also said that many countries were interested in Germany’s dual system of vocational training. The German schools abroad prepared their pupils not only for academic professions but, in some cases, also for skilled trades. The Minister of State reaffirmed that the dual system of vocational training is to be further developed at German schools in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce Abroad and local business communities.