A unique Danish school helpful for Danish youngsters living abroad

In November, Ranum Efterskole College took a charm offensive in Singapore and other Asian countries to promote their ‘efterskole’. A boarding school that combines the professionalism of a full international program and still preserve the Danish youth freedom.

Photo: Ranum Efterskole College

Most Danes knows what an efterskole is. We’ve had it for 150 years since Grundtvig, an important poet, philosopher and priest, made the foundation for these kinds of schools. It’s a school based on a mix of academic learning and ‘life-learning’ and it’s meant for preparing the Danish ninth and tenth graders for all aspects of life and prepare them in ways they might not learn in ordinary schools. An efterskole can also boast that is has more freedom in terms of teaching methods and choices of subjects compared to public schools.

This might sound exciting for many foreigners and Danish expats who’ve never had their kids in a Danish school. And that’s why Principal Olav Storm Johannsen from Ranum Efterskole College in Northern Jutland have been on an Asian tour spreading the word about this unique kind of Danish boarding school. Among some of the places the tour brought him was China, where he held parent-teacher conference with parents whose children are attending the school. He also paid a visit to Singapore were ScandAsia sat down among the small crowd of Danish expats and expat-children at the presentation.

“This is a good way for many of these youngsters to get an understanding of Danish youth culture. It’s a safe way to get away from home,” Olav told the attendees. Many of the expat-youngsters that Ranum Efterskole College is trying to get a hold on, have never tried a Danish school. And a lot of them are unfamiliar with the typical youth culture from their home country.

One of the youngsters attending Olav’s presentation was Oscar Andersen on 15. Along with his parents he listened to the presentation and became more and more excited about the idea of spending a year in a Danish school with all the variety of opportunities.

“I’m a bit tired of school after seven years here in Singapore and I do miss some more Danish acquaintances,” Oscar said – and adding that he would probably have a hard time in an ordinary Danish efterskole due to the seven years he’s been in the Singaporean school system – “Then this would be better.”

Prejudices of Danish youth culture
At Ranum they offer IGCSC’s, AS and A-level exam. All accredited by Cambridge international examinations. Their courses are taught in English and they have different teaching levels matching the students own academic talent. This, the students can benefit from on further education in Denmark, but also internationally.

Among other things, this makes the school a different kind of Danish boarding school. It operates like the large international academies but with the advantage – some would say – of being Danish minded and therefore making sure the students become whole human beings. Olav says that the students enjoy freedom, happiness and social development that also characterizes the normal Danish efterskole.

Olav also tried to break the prejudice that young people in Denmark learn to binge drink and smoke on these kinds of schools:

“There are two narratives about Danish youth culture. Many abroad get the story that they drink a lot, but they don’t get the story that the students experience great joy and freedom by going,” he said.

The fact that they live there with the freedom and the friends they receive, is something Olav emphasizes a lot.

The school has more than 430 students from all over the world. They come from a variety of different backgrounds, but they learn the Danish way of managing their freedom with responsibilities. A few years ago, Olav had to turn down a couple’s wish to bring their sons personal maid – here you learn to clean up after yourself.

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