Multi-level partnership

The Osterode model

Tilman-Riemenschneider-Gymnasium and Elhadj Diouf Foundation in Osterode am Harz, Germany,
and Lycée Valdiodio Ndiaye and Association Koumby Saleh in Kaolack, Senegal

It all began with an email on 30 March 2012, in which Elhadj Mamadou Diouf, a German teacher from Kaolack, enthusiastically responded to the idea of Tobias Rusteberg, a French teacher from Osterode, to start a pen-friend project with their students. Eight years later, all those involved can look back with pride on the results, which include not only a school partnership, but also cooperation at the municipal level and the establishment of two foundations. The interplay of the three levels of school, community and foundation – the so-called “Osterode model“ – has facilitated a long-term educational and exchange project between Osterode and Kaolack.

Level 1 of the Osterode model is the school partnership between the Tilman-Riemenschneider-Gymnasium in Osterode and the Lycée Valdiodio Ndiaye in Kaolack. In particular, exchange visits organised around different themes chosen by the students themselves (for example relating to participation, music, the environment, sports or art), have created a bridge between Osterode and Kaolack. After each encounter, Junior ambassadors are appointed who report on the project results and their experiences in the form of presentations. This school partnership enables the students to learn from each other, to confront their future in a globalised world, to develop more realistic images of both Africa and Europe and to commit themselves to the Agenda 2030. All those involved (teachers, parents, students and partners outside the schools) are touched by how much the encounters have opened their eyes and created mutual understanding – emotionally and cognitively.

Level 2 involves the extension of the school projects to the community. The city of Osterode participated in the international project “Municipal Climate Partnerships“. Inspired by the junior ambassadors of the Tilman-Riemenschneider-Gymnasium in Osterode, the city of Osterode added the SDGs to its spectrum of activities in early 2018. The aim of the project is to initiate climatefriendly changes in both Osterode and Kaolack. Representatives of the city of Osterode and the district of Kaolack have met several times to discuss issues related to drought, flooding and reforestation. Students are also involved in the project. In Kaolack, for example, they have formed a climate action group, spurred on by the network of junior ambassadors, among other factors.

Level 3 includes the Elhadj Diouf Foundation (EDF) in Osterode, which was founded in June 2018. The foundation‘s objectives are to promote education, exchanges and different perspectives. The EDF is in close contact with Osterode citizens, business people and the students‘ parents. It provides information about the exchange programmes and acts as a platform for the alumni network. In parallel with the EDF, the Association Koumby Saleh was founded in Kaolack in pursuit of the same objectives. The most important guiding principle behind the two foundations is to encourage young people to get involved in shaping their respective communities. Successful initiatives have already been launched in various areas, including sports, health and education.

“If you manage to get through to young people, you can achieve a lot“

This quote from our late colleague Elhadj Mamadou Diouf has touched us because young people are the driving force behind our partnership with Osterode. The regular meetings are immensely enriching for everyone involved. We all learn from each other and motivate each other to get involved in our respective communities. Such results can only be achieved through an exchange of ideas and understanding as well as with commitment and patience on the part of everyone involved. Kaolack is the first and, to my knowledge, only African city to be involved in a partnership at all three levels, and it would be a source of pride for us too if we were able to inspire other cities as well..

Djibril Thiam
German teacher at the
Lycée Valdiodio Ndiaye