The BMZ's involvement

Guidelines of German development policy in education

A child in Nairobi passes under a row of shoe hooks.

Germany helps its partner countries in many different ways to improve their education systems. The aim is to develop high quality education systems that are open to all sections of the population.

Strengthening education systems

The foundation is a sound education policy. Germany advises the governments of its partner countries on initiating reform processes and improving their policy steering options.

One of the elements in this is monitoring the education system. As an example, the BMZ promotes the setting up and running of information systems for education management, and the regional and international exchange of experience; it also supports procedures for measuring and comparing teaching and learning performance on a regional basis.

Education is the responsibility of society as a whole. The BMZ therefore promotes an intensive exchange between the governmental and non-governmental actors involved in education.

Improving the infrastructure

Constructing a school as part of a project of the Malteser Hilfsdienst and Welthungerhilfe in Myanmar.

Building, renovating and expanding schools are key elements of Germany's approach to promoting education in developing countries. School facilities and equipment – sanitation, furnishings, blackboards, books and other teaching and learning materials – are also upgraded.

In order to raise the incentive for children to attend school, and if possible complete their schooling, additional services such as medical care and school meals are provided in many places.

Developing local capacity

Student at a training centre in Bandung in Indonesia where, with German support, young people are acquiring technical skills.

If the education system in a developing country is to improve in the long term, the performance of local professionals and managers must be improved. The German government attaches great importance to strengthening its partners’ ownership. Consequently, it promotes human resource development and organisational development at all levels of the education sector.

The BMZ promotes skills acquisition and skills upgrading not only for teaching staff; the training of administrative staff in schools and in local, district and state authorities is a further area of priority.

With the ambitious goal of Education for All in mind, Germany also tests innovative approaches to education promotion. For example, funding was provided towards setting up a Global Leadership Academy, the purpose of which is to improve the innovation and leadership skills of education experts and policymakers from developing and emerging countries.

Eradicating child labour

Dhaka, Bangladesh: A boy producing bricks.

Germany supports the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its efforts to eradicate child labour. Among other things, German development cooperation has supported the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) since the early 1990s.

Legislation banning child labour does not, however, reach the large number of children who work for or with their parents, for example on farms. Financial subsidies to offset the loss of a child's earnings can offer many of these children the opportunity to attend school. In Brazil, for example, families with children receive income support, through a nationwide programme, if each child attends at least 90 per cent of classes.

Widening access to education

In recent years, efforts at national and international level have brought about substantial progress towards widening access to education, though not enough to achieve the international goal of Education for All by 2015. Germany is working in its partner countries in many different areas to enable more children to receive basic and secondary education.

For example, Germany supports the involvement of parents and communities in basic and secondary education. Experience has shown that parental involvement can encourage parents to send their children – especially girls – to school even if they did not receive any schooling themselves. One option is to set up education committees that together with the teachers are responsible for teaching and school administration.

Germany is also committed to creating alternative, non-formal forms of education for young people who have dropped out of secondary school and have very little chance of completing their education at a later stage. The BMZ promotes, inter alia, the development of teaching materials specifically designed for second-chance education and works with its partners on developing teaching concepts and certification procedures.

Improving the quality of education

Improving the quality of education is another priority area of German development cooperation. For example, Germany promotes training and development for teaching staff.

Germany has introduced curricula development into its development cooperation activities, with a view to aligning education more closely with schoolchildren's needs. Topics being brought into curricula include democratic conduct and peaceful coexistence, environmental and health education, HIV/AIDS prevention, and preparation for the workplace.

The quality of education is largely dependent on good education planning and regular impact monitoring. Germany therefore not only supports its partner countries in developing educational content and methods, it also promotes the systematic evaluation of education programmes.

Promoting gender equality

Early discrimination has a negative influence on a person's entire educational career. One of the goals of Germany's education promotion programmes, therefore, is to avoid or eliminate inequality between the sexes.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) endeavours to ensure that girls and women have equal access to all areas and forms of education. It is important to take account of the special needs of girls – including a safe way to school, separate sanitary facilities and a greater proportion of female teachers in all areas of education – so that girls do not end their school careers prematurely.

Germany advises its partner countries on, among other things, legal and policy reforms that set gender equality in education on a sound legal footing. Germany provides support in devising and implementing gender strategies in education and developing funding models that promote school attendance among girls. Ensuring schools have appropriate facilities for girls is one aspect of development cooperation, as is the training of female teachers and academics who can act as powerful role models.

Promoting socially disadvantaged groups

Ethnic minorities, the urban and rural poor, people with disabilities and people living with HIV are all excluded from attending school. German development cooperation therefore pays special attention to the promotion of these socially disadvantaged groups and is committed to inclusive education: it should not be the student who has to adapt to the existing system, but the education system that takes account of the needs of all students – in all areas of education.

Integrating socially disadvantaged children is at the core of an interregional programme on education promotion and conflict management. Armed conflict severely damages children’s education prospects and Germany has set out to interlink these two areas of development cooperation more closely. The programme is aimed primarily at child soldiers, refugees, street children and children with disabilities. The programme also addresses violence prevention. It does so in schools, in extracurricular education and political education, for example human rights education.

BMZ glossary

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