Minister of State Cornelia Pieper has welcomed the approval of the German Schools Abroad Act by the German Bundestag on 13 June 2013 and issued the following statement in Berlin today (14 June):
This is a historic moment for German schools abroad. For the first time, the German Bundestag has granted them their own legal basis for funding.
We have thus recognized the successful work done by these schools. They are beacons of the German education system and pillars of a value-oriented foreign policy.
The German Schools Abroad Act is intended to create planning security for the schools by granting them a legal right to funding for three years. They will become more independent as a result of budgeting.
Furthermore, the Act recognizes the growing importance which German schools abroad have gained during the last few years due to demographic developments, the resulting shortage of skilled workers and Germany’s internationalization as a centre of higher education.
The German Schools Abroad Act was drafted at the initiative of Minister of State Pieper with the Federal Foreign Office acting as lead agency and cooperating with Länder, associations and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad. It grants a legal right to funding to schools which are fully established and can demonstrate this by producing a stable number of graduates on a long-term basis.
The necessary threshold has been reached once a school has awarded an average of 12 school leaving certificates per year over a three-year period. Thus, 82 of the 141 German schools abroad will immediately be able to take advantage of the legal right anchored in the Act.
Schools which are not yet fully established or small schools in difficult locations which do not (yet) meet the criteria for the legal right to funding will continue to be financed through the flexible allocation instrument in line with their specific needs. They can gain a right to funding once they have fulfilled the quality criteria.
The German Schools Abroad Act implements the reform strategy for German schools abroad which was agreed upon by the Federal Government and the Länder in 2011. The number of teachers which the German state is legally bound to send to German schools abroad will be reduced in favour of considerably higher funding. In future, the schools will be able to choose whether to use these funds for employing additional teachers from Germany or for taking on suitable local teaching staff. The funding will – in contrast to the current situation – be granted in the shape of a budget which has no bearing on the schools’ own resources. German public funding will thus become both more predictable and more flexible for the schools.
The Act acknowledges that the German Language Certificate (DSD) is the primary instrument for promoting the German language in schools abroad at a high level. The DSD is offered by several hundred schools in other countries which are not part of the German schools abroad programme.