On September 28, 2018, the first German-Egyptian Education Conference took place at the Deutsche Evangelische Oberschule (DEO) in Cairo to commemorate the 10th Jubilee of the PASCH initiative (Schools: Partners of the Future) and partnership between Egypt and Germany. PASCH is an initiative by the Federal Foreign Office and represents a global network of some 1,800 schools that place a high value on German and is supported by the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), the Goethe-Institut (GI) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The event, which was organized by the ZfA, the Goethe-Institut Cairo, the German Embassy and the DAAD Cairo, brought together key PASCH actors such as representatives of teachers and students from all types of PASCH schools, of the PASCH Alumni community in Egypt and of institutions such as the Goethe-Institut and the DAAD. Together they set out to develop a vision for the future of the PASCH Initiative in Egypt by addressing important issues of communication and cooperation between the different PASCH actors.

The programme started with a series of greeting words by high-ranking guests and patrons of the PASCH initiative, foremost among them Ms. Heidrun Tempel, director for research and academic relations policy and cultural relations policy at the Feder Foreign Office, as well as Ms. Christiane Schmeken, director of strategy at the DAAD headquarters in Bonn. In her welcome address, Ms. Tempel emphasized the PASCH initiative as a success story of German-Egyptian partnership and expressed her belief in its importance as a catalyst for intercultural understanding. This sentiment was echoed by Ms. Schmeken, who voiced her great appreciation for the commitment of all the individual PASCH actors to bring Germany and Egypt closer together through academic exchange and cooperation.

In addition to Ms. Tempel and Ms. Schmeken, the following honoured guests proceeded to welcome the participants of the conference and reflect on the PASCH initiative in Egypt:

  • His Excellency, the German Ambassador to Egypt Mr. Julius Georg Luy
  • Georg Leber, Headmaster of the Deutsche Schule der Borromäerinnen Cairo and representative of the central office for German Schools Abroad (ZfA)
  • Heike Uhlig, Head of the Language Department at the Goethe-Institut Cairo
  • Elke Kaschl-Mohni, Head of the Goethe-Institut Cairo
  • Roland Harken, Headmaster of the Deutsche Evangelische Oberschule
  • Ahmed Daher, Deputy Minister at the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education
  • Naima Ali, Advisor for the German Department at the Ministry of Higher Education
  • Mohammed Sadek, General Director for Information Systems and Decision Support at the Ministry of Higher Education

These introductory remarks were followed by a keynote presentation on “Learning in the digital society” held by Mr. Jöran Muuß-Merholz, CEO of the J&K Agency for Education. In his keynote, Mr. Muuß-Merholz addressed the future challenges and opportunities of digitalisation in the field of education. Developing a vision of how current and future digital advancements will shape and challenge traditional models of education and teaching, he pointed towards the need to accept the loss of traditional boundaries on knowledge and encouraged acceptance for more independent modes of learning using the possibilities of the internet.

In the afternoon, the conference participants have been divided into smaller working groups to discuss specific aspects of the PASCH initiative in Egypt and to reflect on previous good practices, as well as to develop suggestions for future approaches to and possibilities of improvement in their particular focus area. Overall, nine workshops were offered on the following topics:

1) Working with Alumni
2) What Do Employers Expect from PASCH School Graduates?
3) Studying after PASCH School
4) Education and Personal Development
5) Opportunities for Qualifying Teaching Personnel
6) Strengthening the Cooperation Between the Actors of the PASCH Network
7) DaF – Modern Language Learning
8) The Role of the Student at PASCH Schools
9) School and Digitalisation

The DAAD Cairo was primarily involved in the following three workshops:

The workshop “Studying after PASCH School” was moderated by Ms. Ingy Nafie from the DAAD Cairo and specifically focused on the topic of studying in Germany. The participants who joined this workshop included students and teachers from different types of PASCH schools, as well as representatives from German higher education institutions and from the “Studienkolleg Ägypten”, founded by the Goethe-Institut and the TU Berlin. In this diverse round, the possibilities and challenges for graduates from different types of PASCH schools regarding the pursuit of studies in Germany were discussed. This included on the one hand the concerns of students regarding the application process to German universities, the possibilities for those students that will not receive a German Abitur to visit a “Studienkolleg” in Germany or Egypt, as well as an evaluation of the possibilities to provide more support for graduates of Fit-Schools. On the other hand, possibilities for improving communication and cooperation between the different PASCH actors involved in supporting students interested in studying in Germany were discussed.

The workshop on “Working with Alumni” was led by the DAAD and PASCH school alumnus Mr. Khaled Mostafa. In a small round of other alumni and representatives from the PASCH schools, which was also joined by Ms. Schmeken from the DAAD headquarters, the question of how to improve the integration of alumni into the PASCH network and thus keep them engaged and connected, was addressed. In a creative approach that took into account the needs and motivations of both the Alumni and the other PASCH actors, this work group developed a roadmap for keeping PASCH school alumni active and engaged in helping with the development of PASCH projects in Egypt, by highlighting the advantages of a strong alumni community with regards to networking and academic as well as professional exchange.

Finally, during the workshop “DaF – Modern Language Learning”, which was moderated by Ms. Gertje Krumbholz, lector at the DAAD Kairo Office, three important questions regarding the study of German as a foreign language (DaF) were addressed. First, the participants of this workshop thus considered the best practices for designing a curriculum for the study of DaF, approaching this question from different perspective, most prominently from that of the DaF teachers. Secondly, it was discussed how the practical implementation of study goals in the classroom can be shaped and optimized. Rounding off this discussion the work group then lastly focused on identifying the options of further training for German teachers and possible innovative approaches in this regard.

The conference ended with a general presentation of the results, in which the participants were able to gain an insight into the discussions and results of all individual workshops and reflect upon these amongst each other in an informal setting.