The France Strategy is the approach adopted by the German Bundesland of Saarland to introduce French as the second lingua franca of the Land by 2043. This mission reflects the strong socio-economic interconnections among regions as France is the Saarland's most important trade partner. It also hosts many Franco-German institutions, as well as subsidiaries of over 100 French companies which provide 3,000 jobs. On the other hand, a large number of Saarland companies have their branches in the French territory. The Saarland local government actively promotes a bilingual approach at all levels of education from preschool to university and vocational schools. The strategy does not just include the linguistic dimension but promotes cooperation in cross-border environmental protection, regional marketing, research and innovation, culture, and administration.
The project was launched in 2014 by the then Prime Minister of Saarland, and it has been continued by the successor as the strategy was considered a focal point of government’s action. The strategy is mostly implemented by the local government of Saarland and its Finance and Europe Minister. A crucial role in the implementation of the actions is played by the Franco-German University of Saarland which created a network of collaborations for facilitating cultural and linguistic exchange with France and providing courses for the formation of bilingual teachers.
The strategy is supported by the Interreg VA Greater Region programme. Notably, the Interreg Babylingua project (around EUR 2 million of ERDF) will lead the opening of two bicultural nursery schools on the French-German border in 2022.
In 2020, six years after the launch of the strategy, the Bundesland of Saarland benefitted from:
- 68 nurseries qualified for the Elysée network across Germany and France;
- 240 of the 480 nurseries in Saarland using a bilingual approach;
- 44 of the 161 primary schools teaching French from the 1st grade, all the others from the 3rd grade;
- 4 AbiBac schools where students can take a German-French double high school degree;
- 4 Franco-German vocational schools in different occupations (tourism, hotel, catering);
- Saarland University offering training for primary school teachers with a mandatory major in French and over 20 bi-national and tri-national courses.
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