Although not as prevalent as they once were, German educational opportunities are still making a difference around the world.
By Anna Cramer
Birgit S., wife of a diplomat, has just seen her third child Merle finish school with admirable success. After thirteen years living in countries as wide apart as Estonia, the United States, Nicaragua, and the United Kingdom, Birgit’s experience not only as a mother of three children of school age, but also as a part-time teacher of German as a foreign language, provide an inside view of German schools outside Germany.
“Our children learned to adapt quickly to a new environment and a new language,” she sums up the benefits, “but most of all they enjoyed being members of a community they could be proud of. The dedication of most teachers, the diversity of the students, and the many extra-curricular activities reflecting the customs of both Germany and the host country helped them overcome difficulties. They became open-minded young people with respect for other cultures, but they never had to sacrifice their German roots.”
Presently, the world over, there are more than 140 German schools outside Germany and, in addition, about 1100 schools teaching intensive German and/or offering the German Language Diploma (DSD). These schools are pedagogically and financially supported by Germany. The “German schools”, attended by around 82,000 students, are often private schools run by a local organization (“Schulverein”), but supported to a great extent by Germany, through financing and providing fully licensed and experienced teachers from Germany for a limited number of years. The organization behind all this, the ZfA (Central Agency for Schools Abroad), also advises local schools wishing to start German programs or to administer German language exams meeting international standards.
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