Enlightenment for life, the Danish way

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If you’ve ever thought about studying in Denmark, you’ll likely have come across the ‘efterskole’ concept. This unique educational institution for teens currently sees almost 30,000 students attend and reside at in total close to 250 schools across Denmark – and heralding a slightly different form of enlightenment.


Similar in philosophy to the more senior Danish folkehøjskole (folk high school) concept, the efterskole tradition is closely linked to the values and ideas of N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872), who didn’t believe in formal vocational training but wanted schools to provide, as he called it, enlightenment for life. As such, while these schools offer many of the same subjects and qualifications as state schools, most efterskoler also provide students with the chance to specialise in a field of interest close to their heart, such as sport, music or theatre. Overall, these schools take a freer, sometimes more alternative approach to teaching and education generally, some in line with their political, religious or pedagogical ethos.

The first few efterskoler were founded in Denmark around 150 years ago, but the popularity of the tradition is showing no sign of waning – quite the contrary. With many efterskoler practising a genuinely democratic governance and making a conscious effort to prepare students for a life as active, engaged world citizens, this segment has seen a surge in interest in recent decades. If you want to spend a year indulging a special interest while making friendships for life as part of a community that makes the world seem that bit warmer and more positive – read on.

Want more information about the efterskole concept, registered schools and courses, and relevant rules and regulations? Efterskoleforeningen has all the details and links.


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