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COVID-19: German International schools fear closing down over lack of funds

COVID-19: German International schools fear closing down over lack of funds. (image courtesy of pexels)

All 140 German schools abroad are closed while some have resolved to host online classes. Most of these school are running out of funds to operate due to the coronavirus pandemic as students are not attending school and parents are reluctant to pay fees.

Some school may have to be shut down forever while others have been forced to change to teaching through computer screens. However, changing over to digital lessons has not been the biggest challenge facing schools in recent times: it is also in the grips of a financial emergency

DW talked to the chairwoman of the school association at Colegio Peruano Aleman Alexander von Humboldt in Peru’s capital, Lima, Ann-Katrin Petersen who said that the school was always in a very good position but now everything is getting shaky.

The school, known informally in German as the Humboldtschule, is one of 140 German schools abroad. Like every other German international school, it is run by a non-profit support association. Some 70% of the financing is covered by school fees, with the rest provided by the German federal and state governments, including in the form of teaching staff sent from Germany.

Most schools rely on parents paying fees but they have been unwilling to pay fees as families are also struggling to get by themselves. A lot of people are eating into their savings and this makes things such as school a ‘luxury’. Most families cannot afford to pay fees and those that can do not see the reason as to paying full fees because lessons are only taking place online but there is a problem with this: Overhead costs still have to be covered and teachers have to be paid.

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A survey carried out by the WDA indicates how serious things are for many German international schools. Altogether 105 school support associations were asked about the current situation during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the survey, 64 associations feel their schools are critically endangered, while almost three-quarters expect pupil numbers to drop.

All schools fear negative impact on their financial situation asking for immediate aid from the German state to save the school from collapsing, it would be easier for international schools to even receive loans.

The chairs and head of all the German international schools will discuss exactly what kind of quick support the schools could receive at a web conference in the coming week. Members of the German Parliament (Bundestag) and the minister of state responsible for the international schools, Michelle Müntefering, will also take part in the debate.

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