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Education is a privilege and not a basic right in many parts of the world, where school facilities are non-existent or inadequate. Therefore, in countries outside Europe, SOS Children's Villages often builds schools which are open to both the children and young people from the children's village and the neighbouring districts.

In Europe, the children and young people from the SOS Children's Villages attend local schools and make use of the existing education and training facilities. However, outside Europe and in regions where there are SOS Children's Villages, the education system is often inadequate because of a lack of state assistance and financial funds.

The social situation of large sectors of the population makes it impossible for many to afford school fees. Education is a luxury beyond reach and as a result, existing schools frequently have overcrowded classes of between 50 and 70 pupils, and are unable to cope with an additional intake of children from the SOS Children's Village.

By building SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools, SOS Children's Villages not only provides for the educational needs of the children and young people from the children's villages, but also improves educational opportunities locally, particularly for children from the surrounding districts, and takes the strain off existing schools.

The spectrum of SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools ranges from primary and secondary schools, to vocational training schools and international colleges, of which there are two worldwide. However, the objective of SOS Children's Villages' commitment in the educational sector is not to create academic and elitist institutions. The focus of our educational activity is to ensure that adequate schooling is provided to each child who grows up in an SOS Children's Village, and to as many local children as possible.

Primary and secondary schools, which offer classes from the first to the ninth grade, are accordingly the most frequent school types amongst the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools. In addition, there are agricultural colleges, technical courses and vocational training programmes, special needs schools, and even nursing schools.

All SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools - often regarded as model schools in the country of their location - are state recognised and teach according to the applicable national curricula. Cultural features are taken into account. A maximum of between 30 and 40 pupils per classroom are taught by well-qualified teachers, almost exclusively local personnel.

The school buildings, frequently arranged in compact smaller units and characterised by elements of regional architecture, are solid constructions that will provide suitable facilities for as many generations of school children as possible.

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