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The Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO)

Dates and key statistics

The Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO) is an organisation which serves to foster Franco-German co-operation.

1.   Some background

By signing the Elysée Treaty on 22 January 1963, General De Gaulle, President of the French Republic, and Konrad Adenauer, Federal Chancellor, laid the foundations of the Franco-German Youth Office. The Intergovernmental Agreement of 5 July 1963 implemented provisions made under this Treaty of Franco-German co-operation by creating a body known as the “Franco German Youth Office'', to foster relations between French and German young people.

Article 2 (1) of the initial Agreement stipulates that '' The aim of the Office is to tighten the bonds between young people in both countries, to strengthen their mutual understanding and, to this effect, to provoke, encourage and, where necessary,  to set up meetings and exchanges between young people''. 

2.   Objectives

The FGYO is a centre of expertise for both countries’ governments. It acts as an adviser and intermediary for local and regional authorities, as well as for civil society in France and Germany.

The FGYO addresses all young people from the age of three to thirty: kindergartners, apprentices, young unemployed persons, employees, students or pupils. Furthermore, it takes up current issues which concern young people in both countries, and adapts its offers to the everyday life and needs of young people. It is a unique “laboratory” for transnational projects and European cooperation. Some of the projects of the FGYO are open to third countries. The FGYO wants to pass on the experiences of French-German youth exchange to third countries as reconciliation work.   

3. Exchange – the central task

International meetings are the focus of attention of the FGYO-funded programmes. Important criteria are language and mutuality, i.e. a return meeting takes place. Priority is given to the intercultural learning, which is supposed to be as intensely as possible and accordingly accompanied.

In 2013, the FGYO has funded 8.892 exchange meetings: 5.249 group exchange programmes and 3.643 individual exchange programmes, in which a total of 204.745 young people took part. Additionally, 35.000 people participated in events organised by the FGYO.

4. A dynamic network

The FGYO works according to the subsidiary principle with more than 6.000 institutions, partners and project agencies. They are the actual players of the education and youth policy and specialists in their respective field of action (schools, vocational colleges, training centres, universities, universities of applied sciences and arts, associations, partnership committees, holiday camps, sports clubs, youth centres and cultural institutions, youth welfare services). Thanks to its partners, the FGYO had a radius of action which covers the whole of France and Germany and reaches all levels of society for decades. The FGYO helps with the preparation and evaluation of meetings and plays a significant advisory role.

5. Increasing funds

During the anniversary year 2013, the contributions of the German and French government to the budget of the FGYO have been raised by two million Euros for the first time since its foundation. This means an increase of almost ten percent. Thus the FGYO’s budget for 2013 was 24.8 million Euros, made up of equal contributions from the French and German governments. This includes a special fund of 540.000 Euros provided by the two Ministries for Foreign Affairs for exchanges with countries in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

6. Organisation

The FGYO is an autonomous international organisation, led by a Board of Governors, presided over by Patrick Kanner, French Minister for Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport, and Manuela Schwesig, the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth in Germany. The Steering Committee offers the Board of Governors advice and makes recommendations.

The executive functions of the Board are carried out by the General Secretariat, led by Béatrice Angrand, appointed in 2009, and Dr. Markus Ingenlath, who took up his post in January 2012. The duration of a term is six years each. It can be renewed once and begins time-displaced by three years.

The objectives of the work of the FGYO are based on an orientation report, issued every three years, which is worked out by the General Secretariat of the FGYO, presented by the Steering Committee and passed by the Board of Governors. A new orientation report for the period of 2014 to 2016 was passed in 2013.

In 2013, more than 10.000 funding applications have been evaluated. The staff of the FGYO, consisting of 70 employees, is working in bi-national teams in two locations, in Paris, where the head office is currently situated, and Berlin.

7.   Fields of activity

Vocational training and university exchanges

An important goal of the work of the FGYO is to improve the employability of young people with the help of intercultural exchange experiences. That is why the acquisition of professional, social and linguistic competences is the focus of attention of the mobility programmes in the field of vocational training and university exchanges. By offering internships, seminars, conferences and mobility programmes, the FGYO enables a large number of young people to continue their education, to gather unique experiences and to lay the foundation of their professional future.

1.830 meetings took place including 14.144 young people in the field of vocational training and university exchanges: 702 grants for professional internships (individual grants and PRAXES) and 381 grants for work placements; 158 seminars took place in the field of higher education, in which 2.717 students participated. The programme “Work in the partner country” listed 42 participants. 460 programmes including 8.921 participants promoted exchanges between institutions of vocational training and technical education as well as between apprentices at vocational schools. 146 young people committed themselves one year in the context of the voluntary service.

School exchanges and extracurricular exchanges

In the school and extracurricular exchanges the FGYO funds predominantly programmes which enable a first contact with the neighbouring country. The traditional group exchange and the individual stay both focus on the discovery of culture, the joy in learning a language and the examination of another country. It is about motivating young people to participate and to offer inventive and innovative formats.

Concerning school exchange, 2.709 meetings of school classes in the partner country were financed, including 123.504 pupils. 93 meetings took place in a third country, uniting more than 2.000 pupils of secondary schools, and 64 meetings were lead with 1.600 primary school students. 5.059 students took part in individual exchange programs.

In 2013, the FGYO funded 980 extracurricular exchange programs with 18.467 participants. They were led by youth associations, twin town committees, sports clubs, art and cultural associations as well as associations for academic and technical youth welfare work. 154 young persons got a grant for an individual project in the other country.

Learning the partner language

It remains an important task for the FGYO to support language acquisition of children and young people as well as to support multipliers. In 2013, 2.181 young people and adults took part in FGYO-funded school or extracurricular language courses (extensive, intensive, tandem). 4.511 children of the age of three to twelve were introduced to the language in children courses. 112 teachers and educators spent one year in the other country in order to enable a vivid contact with the language as native speakers.

Pedagogy of intercultural learning

The FGYO wants to ensure and drive forward the quality of the educational work as well as support language promotion in bi- and trinational meetings.

In 2013, 134 bi- and trinational trainings of special staff were granted. The topics range from intercultural education, methods of language promotion and teaching to trainings on social issues as well as specific educational concepts of intercultural learning. A total of 1.994 team leaders were trained. For teachers 16 advanced trainings were organised by the FGYO or its partners with the aim of using the potential of a student exchange in a profitable and educationally valuable manner.

To support the quality of the meetings, the FGYO continually develops educational material, which can be used by organizers during the preparation and the meeting itself.     

Communication and events

Topical meetings, organisation of manifestations and events, press and media work, information of young people and multipliers, public relations. The FGYO has participated on 41 events and fairs in Germany and France, it has installed 90 info meeting points and developed an information network of 64 junior ambassadors in Germany and France.

Third country programmes

More than 226 trinational meetings with over 7.000 young people from Germany, France and 42 third countries; mostly with countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe as well as the Mediterranean.

The statistics referred to are from 2013

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