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The Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO)

France - Germany: in the face of terror, lets mobilize!

One week after France, Germany was attacked as well. Many families, young people and innocent children fell victim to this bloodthirsty act. Acts of violence claiming religious, identity-related or racist motives are piling up in our world.

Atrocities such as these fill us with horror.

Against this tragic backdrop, this context that increases the value of every expression of sympathy and solidarity, we are overwhelmed by your outpouring of condolences and support. You have moved us deeply.

The indiscriminate violence, to which we neither can nor wish to become accustomed, manifests itself through unbearable intolerance and tyranny. It targets our values and our liberal way of life.

For the past 50 years, the FGYO has intensely devoted itself to intercultural learning. This effort roots questions prejudices and warns against confusing facts with mistaken and hastily drawn conclusions. Intercultural learning is based on peace education.

Within its sphere of action, the FGYO thus contributed towards building a Europe in which the peaceful coexistence of languages, cultures, nations and generations, and the freedom of persons and the mobility of young people, seemed to have been achieved.

Now, however, these achievements have been greatly weakened or even called into question.

For this reason, we appeal to you: Take the feeling of ‘upset’ that many of you share with us and invest it in commitment! We have already experienced some cancellations and are aware of the risk of further cancellations of exchanges. So let us dedicate ourselves to ensuring that the bonds between young people in Germany and France, between the young people of Europe and of the Mediterranean region, are maintained and even strengthened.

With this in mind, we sincerely urge you to inform parents about the security measures undertaken for youth exchanges. We also urge you – in the event of cancellations of the exchanges – to seek alternative solutions (e.g. shared Facebook groups, interactive platforms, e-mail exchange, shipment of parcels, etc.). Young people who were about to travel to a neighbouring country must not feel as if the neighbouring country is now not a suitable partner. Similarly, we would like not to disappoint those who would have welcomed the partner group.

We want to thank you in advance for all of the steps you take in this regard; naturally, we are also available for further discussions.

You can count on our support and our best intentions at this difficult time.

Best regards,

Dr. Markus Ingenlath                     Béatrice Angrand

Secretary-General                        Secretary-General

Dates and key statistics

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

1.   Some background

By signing the Elysée Treaty on January 22nd, 1963, General De Gaulle, President of the French Republic, and Konrad Adenauer, the Federal Chancellor, laid the foundations of the Franco-German Youth Office. The Intergovernmental Agreement of July 5th, 1963 implemented provisions made under this Treaty of Franco-German cooperation 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 in 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 reciprocity, 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 2014, the FGYO has funded 8,865 exchange meetings: 4,978 group exchange programmes and 3,887 individual exchange programmes, in which a total of 194,043 young people took part. Additionally, 24,500 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 exchanges 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 2014 was 24.35 million Euros, made up of equal contributions from the French and German governments. This includes a special fund of 581,000 Euros provided by the two foreign ministries for exchanges with countries in Central, Eastern and Southeastern 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 Markus Ingenlath Ph.D., 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 2014, more than 9,000 funding applications have been evaluated. The staff of the FGYO, consisting of 70 employees, is working in binational 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.

2,262 meetings took place, including 15,857 young people in the field of vocational training and university exchanges: 1,097 grants for professional internships (individual grants and PRAXES) and 410 grants for work placements; 158 seminars took place in the field of higher education, in which 2,882 students participated. The programme “Work in the partner country” listed 45 participants. 398 programmes including 8,530 participants promoted exchanges between institutions of vocational training and technical education as well as between apprentices at vocational schools. 192 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 the 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, 2,619 meetings of school classes in the partner country were financed, including 117,366 pupils. 92 meetings took place in a third country, uniting more than 3,821 pupils of secondary schools, and 58 meetings were lead with 1,350 primary school students. 2,062 students took part in individual exchange programs.

In 2014, the FGYO funded 943 extracurricular exchange programs with 18,653 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. 131 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 2014, 1,608 young people and adults took part in FGYO-funded school or extracurricular language courses (extensive, intensive, tandem). 4,768 children of the age of three to twelve were introduced to the language in children’s courses. 109 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 trilateral meetings.

In 2014, 145 bi- and trilateral 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. 20 advanced trainings for teachers 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 the organizers during the preparation and the meeting itself.      

Communication and events

Topical meetings, organisation of manifestations and events, press and media work, information for young people and multipliers, public relations. In 2014, the FGYO has participated on 29 events and fairs in Germany and France; it has installed 87 info meeting points and has developed an information network of 85 junior ambassadors in Germany and France.

Third country programmes

More than 330 trilateral meetings with over 7,100 young people from Germany, France and 43 third countries; mostly with countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe as well as the Mediterranean.

The statistics referred to are from 2014

To get more information on the RYCO creation process: www.rycowesternbalkans.org