IHK (Chamber of Commerce) German Schools Abroad competition: Awards presented to the winning schools
On 10 May, the prize-giving ceremony for the Fifth Chamber of Commerce (IHK) German Schools Abroad competition, held under the banner of "School Students Build Global Bridges", was held at the House of German Business in Berlin. This year’s winners were the Deutsche Schule Pretoria, the Deutsche Schule Washington and the Deutsche Evangelische Oberschule Kairo.
"Understanding is the pivot of our cultural relations and education policy, in which our schools abroad play a central role." This was the point stressed by German Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier in his opening speech. The winners received their awards at a ceremony held in the context of the World Conference of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad. The numerous guests included high-profile politicians alongside representatives of business and industrial associations.
Dr Eric Schweitzer, President of the Conference of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), also praised the commitment of the German schools abroad: "What the students, but also the teachers and parents who support them, are doing is putting the theory of international understanding into practice." When the DIHK President announced that the prize money had been increased from € 80,000 to a total of € 120,000, the audience broke into loud applause.
The award-winning school students then welcomed the guests in their native languages before introducing the projects in vivid and descriptive short films. On the stage they painted a picture of their personal impressions and experiences. With the assistance of Prof Maria Böhmer, State Minister in the Foreign Office, Dr Schweitzer presented the prizes to the students and teachers who had made the journey to the ceremony.
The winning projects
The first prize went to the Deutsche Schule Pretoria for its "LEGO-Robotics activities". In the development of LEGO robots the young people work together in teams to acquire expertise in automation technology. They then go on to spark into life the playful inventiveness of their classmates by sharing the newly-acquired knowledge with them. School students from disadvantaged regions, such as the townships in South Africa, are given particular encouragement and support in the process. The € 60,000 prize money will give young people in school year 10 the opportunity to participate in work experience in Germany.
For its development of innovative business ideas, the Deutsche Schule Washington was awarded the runner’s-up prize worth € 40,000. In the course of their independent project work, the students plan their fictional company from market analysis right through to the business plan. Professional advice is provided by the German Executive Roundtable. As Viktoria Buben from the Deutsche Schule Washington said at the prize-giving ceremony: "The project has inspired me to study international business. I hope one day to be able to put my idea into practice in real life."
The Deutsche Evangelische Oberschule Kairo won third place for its outstanding social commitment. For over 25 years, its social committee of some 25 students has been helping disadvantaged social groups in their region. In small projects, they organise campaigns to distribute free bread and arrange free lessons or fundraising appeals. The prize money of € 20,000 has already been earmarked for holiday trips and to pay the school fees of disadvantaged children, as Hanna Hartmann, head of the social committee, explained.
The competition has been hosted every two years since 2008 by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry. One of its central aims is to strengthen relations between the German schools abroad and German companies in the respective host countries. The Central Agency for German Schools Abroad (ZfA) provided organisational support and guidance in respect of teaching methodology.
The 140 German Schools Abroad are supported by the Central Agency for German Schools Abroad of the Federal Office of Administration on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office and assisted by the countries in terms of personnel, finance and also teaching methodology. The ZfA reinforces quality-oriented school development and supports the foundation of new schools with a German profile. It advises local schools in the development of German lessons and also with the introduction of German school-leaving qualifications in accordance with international standards.