One Square kilometer of education in action One Square kilometer of education in action

What is One Square Kilometer of Education?

One Square Kilometer of Education is a ten-year program organized by the Freudenberg Foundation and the authorities of a specific city, which aims to ensure the best possible educational support for children in the elementary school of a disadvantaged city district. The coordination and support center of every Square Kilometer is a Pedagogical Workshop that works together with the local educational institutions to develop custom-made educational measures as well as further education projects for schoolteachers and kindergarten teachers. One Square Kilometer of Education is a supra-regional program that is adapted to local needs. The Association of Foundations “One Square Kilometer of Education” was set up in 2009.

What are the goals?

One Square Kilometer of Education strives to merge the efforts of local educational institutions in an educational alliance, in which the institutions jointly assume responsibility for the learning success of the children and adolescents and which involves everyone who can help ensure that no child is lost. This also includes the urban planning and development agency, health agency, and local associations. No single institution, no single person alone can solve the complex task of achieving educational equality for children and adolescents. The point, for one, is to support an educational chain within a selected community, i.e. a continuous chain of support extending over a period of 10 years, in which the children and adolescents are accompanied through the different school levels. For another, the dynamics of the positive experiences gained hopefully will spread to other districts/communities, both regionally and supra-regionally. The children need to be accompanied for an extended period of time so that it can be determined what needs to be done in the fields of linguistic expression, math and social skills as early as kindergarten and continued throughout elementary school so that all children have equal educational opportunities and can master the transition to vocational training and working life.

What does One Square Kilometer of Education do?

  • It makes use of already existing effective programs striving to promote the inclusion and talents of children and adolescents, also by working with them over an extended period of time, after these have been initiated by the community, the state and the foundations, and helps to sustain them,
  • Together with the local actors, it develops a local educational alliance, which assumes responsibility for ensuring that children and adolescents will have an encouraging educational biography and involves everyone who can contribute to this goal,
  • It works closely together with day-care centers and principals of schools, who receive more scope of action and additional resources to develop coordinated and continuous learning strategies for the children and adolescents,

  • It encourages schoolteachers and kindergarten teachers to realize pedagogical ideas, for example in learning workshops, art projects and extended learning over several grades,
  • It utilizes the resources existing in the system to promote the quality of the day-care centers and schools, and to finance measures, e.g. encouraging the involvement of parents,
  • It proceeds from the strengths and interests of the immigrant parents, who make up the majority in One Square Kilometer of Education, and calls in bi- or multilingual assistants,
  • It regularly informs the parents about the progress of and the best possible support for their children at home and in the educational institution,
  • It accompanies and advises the educational institution as regards the school’s program work,
  • It encourages the respective institutions to evaluate themselves, e.g. with the audit procedure,
  • It suggests craftsmen, artists and reading tutors to the school or to the day-care center,
  • It studies, evaluates and transfers experiences gained in the course of setting up and developing a local educational alliance,
  • In order to achieve sustained improvements and success in the education of children and adolescents, it concludes agreements with the communities and the educational authorities concerned to ensure that the measures are coordinated and an effectiveness check oriented along the educational success of the children is carried out.

Which foundations are supporting One Square Kilometer of Education in the Association of Foundations?

  • Freudenberg Foundation, Weinheim
  • Breuninger Foundation, Stuttgart
  • Karl-Konrad-and-Ria-Groeben-Foundation, Baden-Baden
  • BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, Berlin
  • Linden Foundation for Preschool Education, Weinheim

Why is the Freudenberg Foundation engaged in One Square Kilometer of Education?

Since 2002, the Freudenberg Foundation has been bundling its activities in specific disadvantaged urban districts. The foundation wants to create islands of hope wherever the educational disadvantages are greatest. Consequently, it is concentrating its efforts primarily on districts that are characterized by a significantly under-average rate of transition of children from elementary to secondary school and a markedly above-average poverty rate among the parents. Not only do the teachers working in the kindergartens and schools in this social environment frequently feel overtaxed, they also are aware that they cannot meet the educational needs of every individual child despite their utmost efforts. Therefore, the Freudenberg Foundation, in 2007, began to strengthen the educational opportunities of children and adolescents in a more concentrated form in the manageable context of one elementary school so as to be as close as possible to the educational needs of the children, adolescents and their families. And it called this approach One Square Kilometer of Education. Based on this method, the foundation wants to show that change is possible when working together with local partners.

Dr. Pia Gerber
Sascha Wenzel
Freudenberg Stiftung GmbH
Freudenbergstrasse 2
D-69469 Weinheim
Phone +49-06201-17498
Fax +49-06201-13262

Change Story

“Care-Takers” and others

Dr. A., a Palestinian, grew up in Jordan and obtained a doctorate in Regional Planning, in particular emergency economics in refugee camps. He is working at the Community Foundation of Neukoelln and as an intercultural moderator – a “care-taker”. His stories tell about Nelson, Gül and Samir as well as their parents. “Nothing gives you hold here. No village, no family.” Dr. A. hears such laments frequently, as well as: “We aren’t used to this freedom”. Many overstrained parents and children don’t understand each other anymore, the relationships between men and women are disrupted. The picture he describes has nothing to do with ideas of authoritarian family structures. Dr. A. suggests: “Invite parents to come see you or go to their homes. They need information about their children and they need help, too.”

Yet, where can the knowledge about every individual child, which is so urgently needed by many parents, be obtained? Dr. A. tells us about Samir, son of Lebanese parents and in 7th grade. A teacher wrote in a memo: “Samir is undisciplined, puts down other students, fights often.” Nowhere is it noted that Samir cannot speak sufficient German or Arabic and, therefore, cannot understand the classroom instruction. And where is it noted that, after being “thrown out of class”, he ran right into Dr. A.’s arms crying: “My heart hurts – the way the teachers treat me here.”

The conversation about Samir ends with three promises of the “Square Kilometer”: Firstly, it wants to help teachers perceive the progress and deficits of children competently and sensitively and to talk about these questions with the child’s parents. Secondly, it has to maintain the relationship of trust with the “care-takers”, such as Dr. A., who is called “Uncle” by both the children and parents. Thirdly, Samir’s prospects are uncertain. His perspectives of development (and those of every individual child) will be determined and agreed together with his parents and teachers, volunteers and professionals, and it will be agreed who will work with him in which constellation. The success of the “Square Kilometer of Education” will be measured when Samir finishes 10th grade.

The fact that these promises are not just daydreams can be illustrated by the stories of Nelson and Gül. Both attended the same school as Samir and completed 10th grade – and received their Mittlere Reife. They were the only two students who transferred to an upper school form. Nelson, an African refugee living with his mother in Berlin for five years, and Gül, a Turkish girl born in Berlin, were assisted by mentors from the “Square Kilometer”. For more than a year, students like Safyah, Marco and Robert helped 10th graders prepare for the final examinations and became role modes for them. Their success, as described by Nelson and Gül, can be traced back to the feeling that “they support us, they stand up for us”. Robert and Safyah phoned Nelson and other children until they finally came to their course. Marco studied with Gül whenever possible, even on the stairs to her family’s apartment if necessary.

Now Nelson is attending the senior form of an inter-company educational institution. Robert studies with him regularly. Gül believed that additional assistance would be a loss of face. She has broken off her apprenticeship in the meantime. Dr. A. is trying to convince her and her parents that she work together again with Marco and Safyah, and he is looking for a new apprenticeship.