Award-winning alumni projects

Environmental protection in Mongolia, music lessons in Cameroon, support for indigenous peoples in Peru – six alumni projects from the PASCH initiative have been honoured in Berlin.

PASCH bursary recipients with Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Berlin
PASCH bursary recipients with Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Berlin Felix Zahn/

Arousing interest and enthusiasm for Germany, motivating young people to learn German, and building a global network of schools – these are the objectives of the programme "Schools: Partners for the future" (PASCH), an initiative by the Federal Foreign Office that is celebrating its tenth birthday in 2018. Since its launch, German teaching has been established and expanded and German language and culture taught at 2,000 so-called PASCH schools in 120 countries.

After graduating, students have the opportunity to participate in an alumni competition that promotes creative and charitable projects in particular and is oriented towards students who remain committed to the objectives of PASCH even after their school years. Six of these are selected to receive awards by a jury comprising members of the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) and the Goethe-Institut, with 2,000 euros of funding provided to each. Three project teams are also permitted to travel to Berlin for the award ceremony.

Mongolia: Exploring culture and nature

After 2016, the competition was held for a second time in 2018 with a total of 38 teams from 20 countries submitting their ideas. The three main winners, which were presented with their awards on 12 October at the Federal Foreign Office, include “Mongolia 1.0”, a project by two Russians and one Mongolian who are working together to research and document the cultural and natural significance of Lake Khövsgöl in northern Mongolia. The intention is to then develop the material gathered so that it can be used as teaching material for German lessons in other PASCH schools. The jury was clearly impressed by the cross-border, networked aspect of the plan.

Cameroon: Teaching music and dance

As part of their project “Activity holidays with music”, three young dancers and musicians from a PASCH school in Bafoussam in Cameroon want to offer music and dance courses for children and teenagers from their former school. This way, they hope to balance out the lack of music schools in their city. The PASCH network, according to the comments of the jury, is not merely about conveying language, but also culture, and the project by the three young Africans represents a great example of this.

Peru: Strengthening cultural identity

With their project for the revitalization of the Shipibo identity in Peru’s Amazonas region, four PASCH alumni from the Alexander von Humboldt German School in Lima (Peru) want to support young people from the Shipibo indigenous communities with facilities for cultural exchange and educational opportunities. On top of this, workshops are to be offered that aim to not only strengthen their links to their own cultural heritage, but also enhance their job prospects. The jury praised the combination of social engagement and the reinforcement of cultural identity.

Bursary for a university study course in Germany

The enormous potential of the PASCH project, which goes far beyond school education, and the high priority it enjoys in German foreign and cultural policy were made clear by a panel discussion held as part of the orientation seminar for new recipients of bursaries from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). All PASCH alumni are able to apply for this kind of support, and the best are offered a full bursary for a degree course in Germany – this year 112 students from 39 countries benefitted.

“PASCH schools are our gateway to the world”

“This makes it clear how much emphasis we place on facilitating study beyond the secondary-school stage in the German university system and job market”, says Heidrun Tempel, the Federal Foreign Office’s Commissioner for Foreign Cultural Policy. For former teacher and ex-vice-president of the German Bundestag, Ulla Schmidt, the significance of projects like PASCH cannot be overestimated. “If parents anywhere in the world decide to send their child to a German school, then they want build a relationship with the country – and that’s precisely what the aim should be. PASCH schools are our gateway to the world, our point of access to civil society.”

About the PASCH initiative

The PASCH initiative (“Schools: Partners for the future”) was launched by the Federal Foreign Office in 2008 and is being implemented together with the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), the Goethe-Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the Pedagogical Exchange Service of the Secretariat of the Conference of Culture Ministers. A key component of the initiative is fostering exchange among the PASCH schools abroad and with schools in Germany.