Hansjörg Christmann: Education in Dachau county: optimal conditions for lifelong learning

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.

Schlosses-Haimhausen

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.

Gut-Häusern0033

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.

Landvoklshochschule_Neubau-zentral

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.

_2A_0001-(1)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”.