Speech by Minister of State Cornelia Pieper on the occasion of the graduation ceremony at the GUC in Cairo on 1 October 2011
-translation of advance text-
Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m delighted to be with you here in Cairo today to take part in your graduation ceremony. Allow me to congratulate the graduates most sincerely on their success. The degrees you are being awarded today and – what is much more important – the wealth of knowledge you have gained at university during the last few years, have equipped you well to view the future as an opportunity and to actively shape it. I’ve heard from many quarters that you are highly qualified and thus have excellent prospects on the job market.
I’d like to sincerely thank you, representatives of the GUC, for this invitation. The GUC highlights in an impressive way the value of international exchange and cross-border cooperation in the education and research fields between Germany and Egypt. That it has become a showpiece establishment which offers quality and has proven very attractive to the brightest brains in the region, is reflected not least by the fact that it now has 8000 motivated and able students.
In collaboration with its German partner universities, the GUC enables its students and graduates to familiarize themselves with the German higher education system and gives them a chance to go to Germany for an internship, a period of study or a research residency. The German partner universities in Ulm, Stuttgart and Tübingen also benefit from this exchange and the development of new cooperation partnerships in the region. The GUC is thus a boon for both sides. I therefore welcome the fact that with the support of the DAAD, the GUC opened an office in Berlin this February in addition to its Germany office at its partner university in Ulm. This is intended to further intensify the exchange with German universities.
Within the scope of “Track to Germany”, scholarships are awarded and also funded by the DAAD for many different kinds of period of study in Germany. Each year, between 600 and 700 students and staff members go to Germany as part of group programmes. At present, around 400 GUC graduates are enrolled in postgraduate courses in Germany.
To ensure that the GUC can develop well, the opportunity for students to spend part of their course in Germany, and to carry on studying or researching there, are to be extended. At the same time, the GUC should enhance its profile in the research sphere and expand its contacts with Germany’s university and research landscape. The Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research will actively support and foster this course of action. For especially in the light of the historic changes sweeping the region, the German Government believes it has a responsibility to help young people in Egypt to shape a bright future for their country and to support them in their education and vocational training.
Since the start of the Arab Spring, Germany has been observing with considerable interest how young people in Egypt and Tunisia, who felt they had been robbed of their future, helped bring about a largely peaceful transformation of their countries. Young people and students were agents of change during the Egyptian Revolution.
Germany would like to help ensure that these young people, who have taken their country’s future development in hand, can lead it into a prosperous future and secure better lives for themselves.
That’s why the German Government has concluded transformation partnerships with Egypt and Tunisia, for which we will provide 100 million euro over the next two years. These partnerships are intended to promote the necessary political and socio-economic reforms. For ensuring long-term freedom and prosperity on the southern shores of the Mediterranean is a matter of vital significance to Germany and all the other member states of the European Union. We also want to promote civil society structures. These structures will boost the formation of political will and also safeguard and strengthen the freedom gained by fostering democracy.
In the medium and long-term, education in particular will be crucial to the development of countries and societies. It’s the key to the future and the decisive factor in a society’s ability to ensure long-term employment and prosperity. However, education also helps a society to define its culture, to become aware of its identity. That applies to Germany just as much as it does to Egypt.
Cooperation in the education and higher education spheres therefore plays a central role within the transformation partnership. We would like to enter into equal partnerships with you in the education sector, so that we can both take advantage of the knowledge and development potential. For we need to apply shared knowledge to find joint solutions in order to master today’s huge challenges. I hope that the GUC will become an important voice in the dialogue between the European and the Arab world.
Allow me to congratulate you most sincerely again on your degrees. You can be proud of what you’ve achieved. Johann Wolfgang Goethe once said: “It is not enough to have knowledge, one must also apply it. It is not enough to have wishes, one must also accomplish!”
You, the young people of Egypt, have already shown that you are prepared to get involved and change things. I want to encourage you to continue along this path and to engage actively in the exchange and cooperation with Germany.