Young People Discover The Potential Inside Them.


The curtain is raised. The lights go on. Rashid, 23, from Iran, enters the room and, beaming with joy, presents the designer object he has invented to his family, friends and acquaintances who have gathered here.  It is a speaker made from a truncated glass bottle shaped into a horn as the output and a piece of copper pipe with a hole as the pickup. Dock your smartphone, put your music on and enjoy. Steve Jobs, eat your heart out.

Rashid is one of around 250 teenagers and young adults, who in the last eight years have passed through our Bildungsmanufaktur (‚education factory‘). They have included pupils from all types of schools in the school system. People with or without a migration background. Young people bursting with energy alongside those who don’t know what their next move is.

They all come here over a period of several months to meet each other and, with the help of experienced artists, craftspeople and designers, come up with design ideas and then actually make them. The formal term for it is ‚vocational guidance‘. We prefer to call it a personal journey of discovery. And by the end of it everyone knows what’s hidden inside them. And that’s what counts.

The role model: In the 1920s the artist Johannes Itten designed the ‚Bauhaus preliminary course‘. Anyone who wanted to train as an artist, architect or designer at the Bauhaus art school in Weimar was first required to pass this manual skill-oriented introductory course. Many art schools worldwide still take their inspiration for their basic vocational training programmes from the Bauhaus model.

The Bildungsmanufaktur was established in 2010 and was initially primarily geared towards young refugees. The idea is to help participants to get settled, to allow them to catch up on anything they may have missed out on, and to build up their trust and confidence in new surroundings. Every morning up to 60 youngsters come to S27 from their school gyms or temporary accommodation, from Monday to Friday, for seven months.

Each day begins with a one and a half hour German class. This is followed by four hours in the creative workshops, ‚die Kochinsel‘, ‚Clan B‘ or ‚die Macherei‘. There they practise working with wood, metal, glass, ceramic, textiles, plastic, paper and food – within the projects there’s always a new material for them to discover, try out, design and invent.

The workshops also offer the ideal surroundings to improve one’s linguistic and mathematical skills along the way, both of which are key requirements in order to enter the school or apprenticeship systems. Participants also get a certificate from the Chamber of Crafts (Handwerkskammer) for each module they complete.

Open doors. Make friends. Gain confidence. We go on visits to Berlin businesses to work towards achieving these goals. The participants cook, eat and have fun together, and at the end of each course they can proudly present their work to their family, friends and acquaintances.

Fotos: © Maximilian Dreusch / Federica Teti

The various course groups are separately funded by:

  • Berlin Senate Department for Education, Youth and Family (“Senatsverwaltung für Bildung, Jugend und Familie”)
  • The German Children and Youth Foundation (“Deutsch Kinder- und Jugendstiftung”) as part of the programme ‚Start together – ready for school. Education programmes for young refugees in temporary shared accommodation.‘ („Gemeinsam starten – Fit für die Schule. Bildungsangebote für geflüchtete Kinder und Jugendliche in Not- und Gemeinschaftsunterkünften“)