“Austria’s schools abroad are a success story. A prime example is the Higher Technical School for IT in Shkodra. There is incredible potential in our schools abroad, which we will continue to develop. For this reason, I have commissioned a demand-oriented reorientation and further development of the Austrian school system abroad. In doing so, we have set ourselves the goal of increasingly offering training in schools abroad that is relevant to the labor market. We will also examine new locations for Austrian schools abroad worldwide and expand the international school network. This is a sustainable measure to also attract internationally qualified specialists to Austria,” Polaschek emphasized on the occasion of his visit to Albania.
The Austrian School Abroad Shkodra is attended by about 470 students. 23 Austrian teachers are teaching in the school, who are financed by the BMBWF. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, headed by Federal Minister Martin Polaschek, is also investing in IT equipment for the ÖAS Shkodra. In 2021, 48,100 euros were invested for this purpose and in 2022, an additional amount of around 60,000 euros is planned.
“In the realignment of the Austrian schools abroad, we are pursuing a whole-of-government approach. In concrete terms, this means that we are networking with the Austrian players, ‘Team Austria’, in the target countries and involving our local partners. Albanian graduates of the ÖAS Shkodra told me on-site how well this is already working at the existing locations. An education at an Austrian school abroad, for example, gives students a comprehensive education with a degree equivalent to the Austrian school-leaving examination. This gives them the tools they need to integrate well into the Austrian labor market,” continued Federal Minister Martin Polaschek.
Austria’s schools abroad
There are currently eight Austrian schools abroad. Two of them are in Budapest (an elementary school with a new secondary school and an upper secondary school) and one each in Prague (upper secondary school), Istanbul (upper secondary school and commercial academy), Guatemala City (elementary school and AHS), Shkodra (BHS for IT), Querétaro (elementary school and AHS) and Liechtenstein (bilingual AHS).
The eight school locations of the Austrian Schools Abroad were established due to historical, economic-political and cultural-political considerations. The oldest Austrian school abroad is the Sankt-Georgs-Kolleg in Istanbul, which was founded in the 19th century. It was followed by the Austrian School Abroad Guatemala in the middle of the 20th century and the other locations after the fall of the Iron Curtain or in the implementation of development policy priorities together with the Austrian Foreign Ministry. Depending on the location, foundations, associations, or religious orders act as school sponsors.
The Austrian schools abroad are private schools with public law, but the Austrian curriculum applies, in combination with curricular adaptations to the respective host country.
The more than 3,300 students at Austrian schools abroad are primarily children and young people from the host country, for whom (except for Liechtenstein) the language of instruction is German, which is also a foreign language. Every year, about 200 students graduate from the Austrian School Abroad with both the Austrian Matura and the standard national diplomas; the certificates are recognized by both countries.
The school in Liechtenstein recruits and finances its teachers independently; all other schools work with Austrian teachers seconded by the BMBWF and local teachers who are paid by the school authorities.
Teachers of general education and vocational schools can apply to all Austrian schools abroad; for elementary school teachers and teachers at new secondary schools, there is the possibility of teaching at the Austro-Hungarian European School in Budapest, at the Instituto Austriaco Guatemalteco in Guatemala City and the Colegio Austriaco Mexicano in Querétaro. In addition, short-term internships at Austrian schools abroad offer an insight into the European locations of Austrian schools abroad, but also into other local educational institutions.
The assignment at Austrian schools abroad sensitizes teachers to the migration-related pedagogical challenges in Austria. Especially the possibility to send teachers to those countries from which many Austrian students with migration backgrounds originate leads to an increase in experience in the field of migration pedagogy. The simultaneous development of language and subject competence requires flexibility and a willingness to work intensively on language support in all subjects in a multilingual environment. In addition, teachers who learn a new foreign language themselves and at the same time teach children with non-German mother tongues simultaneously develop into competent language mediators in the sense of language-sensitive teaching, also in science subjects.