Dusseldorf Six eighth year pupils of the Dieter-Forte-Gesamtschule now receive 200 euros per month until the end of the tenth year. What is the money for.
Avista (15) and Zehra (14) have a dream. Both want to be doctors after school, preferably in surgery. The two eighth-graders of the Dieter-Forte-Gesamtschule are aware of the need to obtain an excellent Abitur. However, both are on the right track – the desired grade point average in the first year is already reflected in the certificate in most cases. “If someone in the class calls me a nerd, I take that as a compliment,” says Avista.
With their big goal, they now receive support from the Düsseldorf Citizens Foundation and in the person of Michael Biallas. In fact, the former deputy director of the comprehensive school is already retired. But ensuring that young people complete their studies successfully remains an issue close to the heart of the retired teacher. He is still involved in a number of municipal projects aimed at reintegrating absent students into classroom and school structures. When he learned that the community foundation was planning a new scholarship to promote student education, Biallas not only agreed to support the scholarship recipients, but also managed to win the program for his old school. “The money can be used particularly well here. After all, especially children who are socially disadvantaged also have fewer educational opportunities,” he says.
Six scholarship recipients now receive 200 euros per month from the community foundation until the end of the tenth year. The students were recommended in advance by their class teachers and rewarded after selection interviews. All are committed and eager to learn, but their families cannot provide them with sufficient support and encouragement due to financial reasons or language barriers. Under the care of Biallas, the budget is used for excursions, school materials or cultural education – but the students themselves decide what exactly. In terms of education, the scholarship is based on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 4K model, which aims to promote critical thinking, communication skills, and creativity, among others.
Thanks to the funding, he recently went to the Neanderthal Museum, and a little later to the memorial site. “We were interested in the development of people’s social behavior. Also why it developed so negatively towards racism during the Nazi era,” explains Zehra. The scholarship also allows her to take the self-defense course she wanted and to take piano lessons soon. Avista, in turn, needed a new laptop, which was funded by the foundation.
However, both particularly appreciate the collective and individual weekly sessions with the other scholarship holders and Biallas. “He’s not like our boss or our teacher, more like our supporter,” says Avista. “He was able to help me a lot to learn in a more disciplined way, for example with a learning schedule. I have already improved two grades thanks to it.”