Why is it fun to learn culture?
"Cultural education makes children self-confident"
Ms. Wanka, it goes without saying that, as Minister of Education, you find education important. You also stand up for education outside of school: education through culture. Why is this so relevant to you?
Johanna Wanka: If we succeed in giving as many young people as possible, through cultural education opportunities, confidence in their own abilities, if we can show them: Learning together is fun and you can be proud of what you have learned - then we have achieved something very good . That is why we also specifically promote the many, many cultural offers that exist outside of schools with the “Culture makes you strong” program.
Which ones, for example?
Johanna Wanka: That can be a lot, because for us culture is a very open, broad term: learning an instrument in a music school, participating in a dance group, making a video, reading exciting books, visiting museums or theaters - the possibilities of playing around the world discover are great. These projects are important, both for society as a whole and for the development of the individual personality.
What do the children and young people learn when they take part in such projects?
Johanna Wanka: First of all, you get to know art, theater or music. And not just passively as a spectator, you become active yourself. If you develop and implement ideas, it also increases your self-confidence. Working together with culture develops the ability to work in a team and to be critical. The children and young people can try things out, participate, and shape things together. I think these are all important skills for a self-determined life.
Doesn't that happen by itself? Do you need a separate funding program for this?
Johanna Wanka: Yes, we need that. We know from studies that around a third of children and adolescents in Germany grow up in a difficult social or financial situation or where their parents do not care much about their children's education. Their educational opportunities are limited because their parents have no money to pay for music or dance lessons. Or the money is there, but the parents don't think arts education is important. “Culture makes you strong” especially helps those who have a harder time in life. Incidentally, in response to current events, we have expanded the program to include additional measures that are specifically aimed at young refugees. The goal is educational equality, in school, but also after class.
Have you come closer to this goal through “Culture makes you strong”?
Johanna Wanka: A big piece, actually. Since the start of the project, more than 11,500 measures have been launched with over 16,000 alliance partners. According to the current status, we have reached more than 400,000 children, young people and relatives. In all of Germany: The funding affects all federal states and 95 percent of the districts and urban districts. This is largely due to the structure of our “Alliances for Education”. This brings together at least three local institutions that are involved on site. Unusual alliances can develop, for example between the Chaos Computer Club and a theater project.
What is the next step with “Culture makes you strong”?
Hopefully as diverse and committed as before! The program will run until the end of 2017, with the BMBF providing a total of up to 230 million euros.
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