General Information about the Danish Efterskole
The efterskole is a unique Danish independent residential school for students between 14 and 18 years old. Presently some 26.500 students attend one of the app. 260 schools throughout Denmark.
The schools are open to students from abroad, but please note that to attend you like Danish students must pay school fees. Send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want us to send you more information about the efterskole. The Danish "Efterskole" is a free and independent residential school for students between 14 and 18 years old.
Approx. 25.000 students per year attend an Efterskole.
The number of schools is aproximately 250. The number has increased considerably within the last 25 years.
All Efterskoles are residential and all students live at the schools for one or two years of study.
Most Efterskoles are situated in the countryside or near provincial towns.
An Efterskole offers general education. It is regarded as the primary task for the Efterskole to deal with the entire development of each individual young student.
The Efterskole offers education at 8th - 10th forms, and you can choose to complete a school year in the Efterskole, instead of the municipal school (Folkeskole). You even have the same possibilities of passing final examinations.
Although the Efterskoles fulfil social functions, it is important to stress that they are schools and not social institutions.
The average size of an Efterskole is approx. 85 students.
The Efterskole is a private self-governing educational institution, run by a private school board with great responsibility and authority. The school is superintended by The Danish Ministry of Education.
Education and boarding fees are charged and can vary from one school to another, in reality though with only minor differences. The fees are paid partly by parents and partly by state and municipal grants. The public financial support ensures that everybody has a realistic, free choice of attending an Efterskole.
The historical and cultural origin of the Efterskole
Historically and culturally the Efterskole is related to the Danish free school movement, and the Efterskole is often regarded as a junior form of the Danish Folkehøjskole (Folk High School).
The important role of the Danish Folkehøjskole in the development of democracy and the transformation of Danish society in the 19th century (co-operative movements, changes in political, educational, religious, and judicial systems) is well documented. And the Folkehøjskoles, of which the first was founded at Rødding 1844, are recognised as Denmark's most original contribution to international education.
N.F.S. Grundtvig (1789-1872) - bard, poet, educational thinker, politician and clergyman - was the founder and visionary genius of the Folkehøjskole movement, but it was most notably
Kristen Kold (1816-1870) who transformed Grundtvig's visionary ideas into educational practice. While Grundtvig intended the Folkehøjskoles to be for adults, Kold wanted to reach the young people when they entered puberty. Thus Kold's first school, founded at Ryslinge in 1851, was for young farmhands, and this school is recognised as the first Efterskole.
For Grundtvig, schools were to provide enlightenment for life rather than formal or vocational training. Therefore, they should be free from any kind of examinations. The teaching style was based on "free, open poetic-historical talks", without fixed syllabi, but with emphasis on human enlightenment. The learning environment would make a strong cultural impact, by means of "the living word", creating in young people a receptive attitude, and bringing the students into a concrete relationship with the practical aspects of life.
The initial target group (in the agricultural society of that time) was the young rural population. At the Efterskole or at the Folkehøjskole these young people were encouraged to supplement their basic elementary school education (7 years) with free studies, thereby creating a counterculture whose members would be in a position to exercise the instruments of democracy which were introduced with the first free Constitution in 1849. In other words: the idea was to develop the peasantry from a group of subjects to a group of participating citizens.
A famous anecdote concerns how Kold met a young farmhand out in the fields and tried to persuade him to come to his Efterskole. When asked what good that would do a future farmer, Kold asked him if he had a pocket watch. Yes, he had. "That watch," said Kold, "can go for a time, and then it has to be wound up again, but at my school you will be wound up so that you will never stop!"