The Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg (DSJ) is a German international school in South Africa with a bilingual educational programme. Founded in 1890, it is one of the oldest schools in Johannesburg and one of the largest German schools on the African continent. The DSJ takes pride in offering learners co-educational teaching of the highest standards.
In 2016, the DSJ was named the ‘Best German School Outside Germany’ by a panel of judges from the Deutsche Schulpreis Award and in 2018, it was again awarded the status of an ‘Excellent German School Abroad.’
State-of-the-art Infrastructure & Facilities
Headquartered in Parktown, Johannesburg, the lush green campus of the DSJ consists of world-class infrastructure and facilities. These include spacious classrooms, state-of-the-art computer labs, a modern Learning Centre (Library), biology labs, physics labs, and a huge dining hall with catering services. WiFi is also available to students throughout the school grounds.
Likewise, the DSJ has set up a support centre with a social worker, a psychologist, and an inclusion consultant at its campus. A free 11-route bus service takes students from all over the greater Johannesburg area to school in the morning and home in the afternoon. The DSJ houses a sports hall, soccer, volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts and a swimming pool for sports activities.
What Sets the DSJ Apart from Other International Schools?
The education at the DSJ is recognised for German Excellence, rooted in South African Ubuntu (humanity for others) values. Therefore, students from kindergarten to grade 12, representing more than 38 nationalities, choose the DSJ as the favoured education destination.
“We are a German school in South Africa that always tries to incorporate the best of both, very different worlds for the benefit of our more than 1000 students,” reveals Thomas Bachmeier, Headmaster. “We are proud to be a very heterogeneous school with students and parents from all social classes and very diverse cultural backgrounds.”
Since 1989, the DSJ has accepted 25 children from disadvantaged backgrounds into grade 5 each year with a 95% tuition reduction. In addition, the institution enables all its graduates to learn the German language and culture, empowering them to study or make a successful career in Germany.
Expert Team of Faculty
The faculty of the DSJ consists of highly qualified teachers with extensive teaching experience in their respective fields. This academic community not only imparts instruction through regular teaching periods but also motivates and inspires students to participate in various extra and co-curricular activities.
“We offer more than 40 in-service training for teachers every year and support them if they want to continue their education outside of school,” reveals Mr Bachmeier. This professional development training not only enhances the faculty’s pedagogical skill sets but also ensures that they are aware of the new trends and research in the field of education.
Fostering Creativity in Students
As part of its mission, the DSJ educates students to become self-confident personalities with independent and critical thinking skills coupled with personal and social responsibility. To achieve this, the school continuously tries to develop its methodological repertoire and offer students individual learning support.
Regarding teaching pedagogy, the DSJ has promoted cooperative and project-oriented learning for many years and increasingly promoted interdisciplinary projects over the past two years. Beyond the classroom, students are encouraged to participate in over 40 afternoon activities in theatre, choir, orchestra, robotics, and arts.
Positive Parental Involvement in the School
At the DSJ, students as young as 1-year-old are accepted into kindergarten, and parents, like their children, become a part of the school family for the next 17 years. As a result, they often develop a close, personal relationship with the teachers and the school.
“For several years, we have individual learning development meetings with parents and children in kindergarten, elementary and high school,” shares Headmaster Mr Bachmeier. During these meetings, parents are updated on their child’s progress and the areas that need improvement. The school also has dedicated parent representatives who integrate new parents into the school and organise many social activities.
A High College Acceptance Rate
DSJ has two Career Counselors, one for Germany and one for South Africa. In addition to a general Career Day, the school hosts numerous events for study and career choices with domestic and foreign universities and companies. Owing to this, the DSJ has maintained its 100% passing record in the NSC/IEB and the German stream for the last 20 years.
Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic Challenges
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DSJ was affected in more ways than one. Even though the e-learning mode was adopted by the school, the learning of students without appropriate digital devices and internet access was hampered in the initial days. During that turbulent time, the parent representatives extended their support by distributing devices and data to the students. Soon, the school switched to e-learning mode, putting all the classes and exams on track. The kindergarten children were provided with self-created videos daily, while virtual classes were conducted for higher grades. Likewise, teachers also played their part and put in a lot of effort in delivering online classes, scheduling daily homework, and planning questionnaires for upcoming exams. As a result, the outcome of the academic term was a huge success.
“We were surprised and very proud at the same time of the high level of flexibility, motivation and resilience demonstrated by our teachers, but especially by our 11th and 12th-grade students during the pandemic,” proudly states Mr Bachmeier. “Anyone who achieves such great successes under difficult circumstances is well-prepared for all eventualities in the future.”
Implementing Strategies in the Post Pandemic World
“At DSJ, we realised above all during the pandemic that students need very different social and academic support,” mentions Mr Bachmeier. “Therefore, we are convinced that there must be greater individualisation of learning processes in the future and have already initiated three pilot projects to this end.”
The DSJ is gearing to host Schulbasar, the biggest school event in Johannesburg in May 2023 for which preparations are in full swing.
For More Info: https://dsj.co.za/
About Thomas Bachmeier, Headmaster
The Headmaster, Thomas Bachmeier, studied Pedagogy, Business, Economics, IT and politics at universities in Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany and Nairobi, Kenya, from 1989 to 1994 and graduated with a Master of Education. He then taught and worked at various schools in Germany. He is the Co-Founder of the first German Virtual Technical College (www.vibos.de) and worked there from 2000 to 2005 as a Content Manager and Developer of Distance-Learning Units.
From 2005 to 2007, Mr Bachmeier worked on behalf of the German government as Head of the IT Department in TVET for the Ministry of Education in Gaborone, Botswana. In 2012 he finished his part-time studies and graduated with a Master’s degree in International School Management from the Technical University Kaiserslautern. Since 2014, he has been Headmaster at the German International School Johannesburg, Chairman of the German Headmasters in Southern Africa and Arabia, facilitator at the preparation of German Headmasters and a member of the expert panel for a postgraduate diploma program for Headmasters at the Faculty of Education of the University in Pretoria.