Knowledge is the key resource of the 21st century. This view has been internalized in Dachau county. Therefore, education is given the highest priority and the county will again invest significant amounts of money in this area over the next few years.
Education begins in early childhood
In the county of Dachau, the city of Dachau and other municipalities offer early childhood education for their youngest residents age zero to three in day nurseries, followed by nursery schools for children between three years and school age. This county-wide offer is complemented by daycare centres for children between the ages of zero and 14 years, and by after-school care. This offer is rounded off by privately run forest nursery schools. Dachau county has for many years played a pioneering role regarding the quality and availability of daycare provided by qualified childminders.
The municipalities in the county of Dachau have established a tightly knit network of elementary and lower-level secondary (Hauptschule) schools. The schools in Dachau county deliberately tackle the challenge of supporting pupils and their parents in all phases of school education and offering reliable and competent advice. The well-equipped elementary schools constitute an excellent foundation for the school career of young residents, while lower-level secondary schools have a large range of offers that help young people decide on their future career.
The privately run and state-approved Montessori school sees itself as an alternative to existing regular schools in the county of Dachau. Two out of five lower level secondary schools, as well as the Montessori school, offer what is called M courses, which lead to an intermediate qualification (mittlere Reife). Young people with special needs – whether due to learning difficulties, language deficits or behavioural problems – are given special care in a county-funded support centre offering full-time daycare, and in two private special schools.
Equal education opportunities
The county of Dachau offers favourable conditions for secondary school education. The wide diversity and permeability of local educational offerings gives students the chance to choose which option best suits their capabilities – from vocational school to intermediate qualification to subject-linked university entrance qualification (Fachhochschulreife) and general university entrance qualification (allgemeine Hochschulreife), from public to private schools and including one international school. The county equips all secondary schools it operates with modern infrastructure and links such schools to public transport.
This is a key element in ensuring equal education opportunities.
Three six-grade intermediate secondary schools (R 6) – two of which are funded by the Roman Catholic Church – and, from grade seven, a private commercial school lead to intermediate qualification.
In 2011, the public intermediate secondary school (Realschule) in Dachau will move to a newly built property, an energy-saving passive building, which will create more space for students and enable them to discover and experience exemplary systems and methods of climate protection. After intermediate qualification, people can obtain a subject-specific university entrance certificate at the privately run and state-approved specialized secondary school (Fachoberschule) in Karlsfeld, which offers three different course fields. The county runs three grammar schools, which prepare young people for university entrance qualification (Abitur). Due to a continued increase in students, the county plans to open a fourth grammar school.
Both the three grammar schools and the three intermediate secondary schools offer lunch and care services, and the two private intermediate secondary schools even provide afternoon care. Over the next few years, grammar schools as well as intermediate secondary schools will start to provide full-time daycare.
From nursery school to International Baccalaureate Diploma or High School Diploma
Dachau county is home to the privately funded and state-approved Bavarian International School at Haimhausen castle. It is owned by an association which is mainly made up of parents of the pupils. Approximately 700 students from 45 different nations attend the international school.
Laying the foundation for a professional career
The public vocational school in Dachau is recognized as a centre of competence for commercial occupations. With the support of the Bavarian state government, the school implemented the “learning field concept” in 2009: In a statewide pilot project, theoretical and practical instruction is combined in a workshop building resembling a small business centre. Two private vocational schools complement the secondary education offerings for adults. The Akademie Schönbrunn, for instance, is an education and conference centre providing a diverse range of vocational education opportunities for people specializing in therapeutic education, nursing and therapeutic care, who work in the care for disabled or senior people as well as in youth and child welfare. The Amper Kliniken AG operates its own vocational school specializing in nursing care at the Klinikum Dachau hospital, where healthcare professionals and nurses are trained. In addition, municipal adult education centres and comparable organizations such as Dachauer Forum and Landvolkshochschule Petersberg provide opportunities for lifelong learning for the citizens of Dachau county.
Dachau county supports adolescents
„JOB in Dachau“, a cooperative project initiated by Dachau county and the employment agency, has become a model of success. Each lower-level secondary school in the county employs two social education professionals who provide guidance and support to young people by helping them to decide on their future occupation, apply for a training contract or obtain practical work experience.
The county also attaches special importance to ensuring social care for adolescents. The youth welfare agency and six lower-level secondary schools collaborate at the interface of family, school, entrance into work life and social environment. In the context of a model project, the county provides funding for social work at the Petershausen elementary school. In addition, social care services for young people are offered in the public vocational school of Dachau and in the Dachau-based support centre for children with special educational needs. This puts Dachau county far ahead of the Bavarian average in terms of youth welfare work.
The author, born in 1947, studied law in Munich. He has been county commissioner of Dachau county since 1977. He is chairman of the supervisory board of the housing association of Dachau county and of the commercial real estate company “Dachauer Grundverkehrsgesellschaft”. Since 2005, he has also chaired the supervisory board of the development association “Fördergesellschaft Landkreis Dachau AG”.