The RAG-Stiftung, Essen/Germany, and Quinoa Bildung GmbH, Berlin/Germany, are opening the Quinoa school in Herne/Germany in the academic year 2022/23. With this school, the two partners are making an important contribution towards achieving greater educational equality and equal opportunities for children and youth in the Ruhr area.
In Germany, educational opportunities and perspectives on life are still largely down to family background. Children and young people who grow up in an uneducated, socially disadvantaged home and/or come from a migrant background, are not adequately supported in the German education system. The result: many drop out of school, refuse to attend or fail. For years, the number of young people in Germany who leave school without any qualifications has been increasing. In 2014, it was 5.8 %, by 2018 it had already risen to 6.8 % (see national education report for Germany). This affects many young people in Herne, too. In 2020, 7.4 % of pupils left the education system without a qualification. The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the problem. The risk factors for failure at school are particularly high in Herne. This can be seen on the one hand in the high proportion of young people who grow up in households with transfer benefits. In addition, over 30 % of the population of Herne come from a migrant background.
The partnership between the RAG-Stiftung and Quinoa Bildung is based on a shared conviction that more needs to be done to ensure that all young people in Germany achieve a school leaver’s qualification. As one of the greatest promoters of education in the Ruhr region, the RAG-Stiftung initiates and supports numerous educational projects, thereby making a major contribution to establishing equal opportunities for children and young people. “In our efforts to leave no child behind, we must also explore new avenues. This calls for a pioneering spirit. We at the RAG-Stiftung are used to pursuing more creative ideas, as long as they are promising and we are trying to meet particular challenges in educational work”, explains Bärbel Bergerhoff-Wodopia, member of the RAG-Stiftung Board of Management, then adds, “We have absolute confidence in the Quinoa concept. Our belief is also supported by the results of our study into the “Social Return on Investment”, launched in collaboration with Quinoa Bildung, which indicates how much added social value is generated from a project. This is why we are keen to get involved, not only financially, but also by bringing all of our expertise in supporting underprivileged children and young people.” The RAG-Stiftung is supporting the building of the Quinoa school in Herne with approximately 1.5 M € over three years.
The Quinoa educational concept is specifically tailored to the needs of children and young people in difficult situations. The pillars of the educational concept include individual support, relationship work, language development, identity formation, family work, digitisation, vocational orientation and making connections. “We would also like to use our educational concept in the Ruhr region to improve the starting conditions for disadvantaged children and young people. In 2018 almost 1,710 pupils in the Ruhr Regional Association left school without a qualification. Not only is there a significant need here, there is also a great opportunity”, stresses Ulrike Senff, Managing Director of Quinoa Bildung.
The Quinoa educational concept has been successfully implemented at the Quinoa school in Berlin since 2014: In 2018, 88 % of the pupils in Grade 10 achieved a secondary school leaver’s certificate, in 2019, the figure was 92 %, in 2020 saw 100 % achieving the same and 2021 94 %. In comparison with other schools in the Berlin Mitte district, pupils of the Quinoa school achieve more qualifications (on average 9 %) and a significantly higher level of qualification (on average approximately 48 %). The concept is designed in such a way that it can be transferred to other cities with similar structures.
A feasibility study commissioned by the RAG-Stiftung concerning the establishment of a Quinoa school in Herne confirmed the positive impact of the project. The internationally established approach to the Social Return on Investment (SROI) was adopted in the study. This provides information on the added social value of a project, following detailed calculations of costs and effects. If the result is greater than one, the project achieves a positive added social value that is higher than the investments made. The predicted social return for a Quinoa school in Herne significantly exceeds this value. It stands at 2.03 to 4.63 € per Euro invested – a worthwhile investment in the future.
It is clear, therefore that the foundation of a Quinoa school in Herne will make a substantial contribution to equal opportunities and will have a positive effect on the education and qualifications of the pupils – regardless of their social and cultural background. Attendance at the private Quinoa school will be free for all pupils. As an independent school, it receives public subsidies from the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in accordance with the Alternative School Financing Ordinance (FESchVO). This funding is a good foundation but is not enough on its own to be able successfully implement the innovative and challenging educational concept. Individual support and close cooperation with the pupils takes a considerable amount of personal effort and financial cost. The Quinoa school will start in August 2022 with Grade 5 and Grade 7. New classes will gradually be added in subsequent years, until the school is working at full capacity. (RAG-Stiftung/Si.)