50 Years of DVV International


Earlier this year I wrote a note on 100 Years of the German Volkshochschulen (vhs) as community-based adult education centers. In 1919 the Weimarer Republic was the first democracy in Germany that followed on the end of WW1, and also the end our emperor system. In the constitution of this new democracy there is the clause: Adult education, including the Volkshochschulen should be supported at national, provincial, and local level. This being a constitutional matter later led to the support which policy, legislation and financing brings to adult education as a system.

In 1953 the Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband (DVV) was founded of which a popular translation is German Adult Education Association. The DVV is service provider to the local centers and the state level associations, and plays a key advocacy role on German, European and global level.

In the year 1969 the international work had grown so much that a special Institute was established within DVV to organize the diversity of collaboration. One stream was within the development cooperation dealing especially with partners in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and the other was constant professional exchange especially within Europe. Today this Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association is widely known as DVV International. I was lucky to work in its leadership for almost 40 years.

On 7 and 8 May 2019 DVV International celebrated its 50th anniversary in the historic city of Weimar, not far away from the national theatre where the Weimarer Constitution was proclaimed. The celebratory event was back-to-back with two other important meetings: DVV and the vhs had their Annual General Assembly, and DVV International was host to the international 9th Adult Education and Development Conference with the title The Power of Adult Learning and Education – Achieving the SDGs”.  The DVV Assembly and the AEDC ensured high participation of more than 300 colleagues in the celebratory event where Dr. Gerd Müller, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) gave the keynote. The occasion was also the first that the Rita-Süssmuth-Prize was given to three vhs for their outstanding contribution on international aspect of adult education, including migration.

Two publications were distributed alongside the conference and the jubilee: The analytical study on Youth and Adult Education in the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. Role, Contribution and Further Potential is helpful for practitioners and the policy debate. Those who want to know more of DVV International´s long-term achievements it would interesting to read about 50 countries and partnerships, embedded in a historical reflection and a look into the future via the celebratory volume 50 Years DVV International: Half a Century of Adult Education. They are both featured below and attached herewith.

More information on the 50 Years of DVV International via www.dvv-international.de , and on the 100 Years of vhs via https://www.100jahre-vhs.de

Heribert Hinzen