Did you know that the French and German Sections of Taipei European School officially constitute a “Eurocampus”? It’s got nothing to do with Brexit, we’re not intentionally excluding the British from the party, it’s just that the denomination “Eurocampus” is applied uniquely to cases where French and German schools work together under the same roof. There are only 5 such partnerships in existence in the world, in Dublin, Shanghai, Zagreb, Manilla and Taipei. Theses 5 Eurocampuses are governed by a convention between the AEFE and its German equivalent, the ZfA.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the convention, the AEFE invited the heads of the Eurocampus schools to Paris on the 21st and 22nd of November. Some of us were accompanied by members of our Parent Councils – thanks to Mr Nicolas Ng Kon Tia for having made the trip with me – and all of us were joined by our German colleagues, in my case, Mr Roland Heinmueller.
The aim of the seminar was to breathe new life into the Eurocampus concept, which hasn’t always lived up to its declared promises, and to work together on a new partnership agreement that would permit other schools to join the Eurocampus
club in the future.
As you can imagine, the competition that the networks of both German and French schools experience from international schools can at times pose an almost existential threat. The global dominance of private Anglo-Saxon schools, the seriousness
and quality of their accreditation bodies (CIS and the IB for example), and the arrival on the market of investment funds proposing excellent schools (Nord Anglia and Dulwich, to cite two of the most well-known) are all factors that make the scattered cooperation of French and German schools around the world seem a credible reaction to the global standardisation that the world of education is currently undergoing.
The Eurocampus project is therefore a political one (two countries that aim to maintain their influence in the world), an economic one (particularly in that it allows for economy of scale) and of course, (thankfully!) an educational one. We worked primarily on the last aspect of the project during our seminar in Paris (which took place in French and German thanks to the aid of an interpreter – almost not a word of English was spoken!).
Together we composed a common canvas to be presented to our respective ministers that will allow for further development of the existing Eurocampuses and the project in general, and for the schools in question to work on projects that will attract more families and promote a certain vision of education.
Is the vision still a common one? Can we go beyond our differences? Those are the daily challenges Eurocampuses face whatever their context may be (our TES context not being the simplest one ….)
Finally, on to another issue entirely. I wanted to let you know that a number of our teachers have expressed their support for their colleagues in France for yesterday’s general strike. Some of them symbolically declared that they were striking too out
of solidarity (although you will not have noticed because everyone did teach their regular classes). You should know that the vast majority of our French teachers (23 of them in total in primary and secondary) are civil servants on secondment from the
French Ministry of Education and they still have very close ties to their profession and to the Ministry.