FO-Aarhus - Free Education Association- is one of
the Danish education associations. These associations were
initiated by the four oldest Danish political parties respectively.
Today party affiliation may be seen only in board membership.
"Frit Oplysningsforbund" was founded in 1952 by members of Det
Radikale Venstre - The Social Liberal Party - with the object of
broadening public enlightenment in general and working for public
acceptance of the ideals of the UN.
Night School - Evening Classes
The "traditional" leisure time education for adults still
take an important role in the activities of
In August every year FO-Aarhus publishes a catalogue offering
courses on a wide range of subjects such as foreign languages,
history, Danish and foreign literature, psychology, astrology,
handiwork, cooking, music, singing, and many more.
Most classes still take place after working hours but week-end
courses and daytime teaching are in great demand as well.
Classes are placed all over the greater Århus area mostly in
public school rooms. In general students don't have to travel far
to attend their classes.
Normally it takes 14 participants to start a class. This also
means that any group of 14 people can contact FO-Aarhus and have a
class or course opened to them on the required subject as long as
this subject is an acknowledged popular enlightenment subject.
All the tuition offered by the educational associations is
non-formal which means that there are no exams. This is in
accordance with the public enlightenment concept based on the
ideals of the particular Danish Popular High Schools as laid down
by the founder of public enligtenment N.F.S. Grundtvig, priest,
historian, philosopher ....
- to create self confidence and possibilities of knowledge,
capability, and action.
Danish education associations are NGOs operating under the
Public Enlightenment Act of 1991. They are private organisations
partly funded by local authorities.
In the beginning it was the object of the education associations
to offer improvement of basic skills in Danish, courses in foreign
languages, mathematics, history, handiwork, and music.
But today, understanding our body and mind, understanding our
society and its laws, understanding our computer and its software,
understanding those who are different from ourselves, are subjects
of increasing importance.
And joint ventures with public services to offer unemployed
people opportunities to return to the labour market have become
Projects of this kind have become a speciality with FO-Aarhus. Many
of them aim at offering education to immigrants thus paving their
way to integration into the Danish association.
The Danish education associations in general have become
important partners in combatting unemployment and in the
integration of foreigners.
Examples of initiatives and projects initiated by
Wemens lives (Dayschool For Women)
Entrance 2 - for street kids
(approx. numbers per year)
- 45000 lessons
- 5000 participants
- 250 teachers
- 40 subjects
FO-Aarhus co-operates with various other schools for adult
FO-Aarhus has initiated a number of major projects which eventually
have taken on a life of their own.
FO-Aarhus is in joint ventures with a number of public
FO-Aarhus is a local division of the national association
NETOP - training network (www.netoplysning.dk)
(formerly the FO national union) and was founded by a circle of
members of the political party Det radikale Venstre. The Aarhus
division was founded in 1973 and initially consisted of evening
classes, usually known as main area 1.
Since then, activities have expanded greatly. During the 80s and
especially the 90s, much has happened, with the implementation of
an increasing number of all-day teaching projects, usually called
main area 2. FO-Aarhus is managed by a board which has appointed
committees for activities and finances.
Main area 1: Evening classes
During the first decade of FO-Aarhus, activity wasn't intense, but
catalogues were printed and classes were completed annually.
Gradually, the amount of up-and-running classes expanded, and
presently, more than 25 years on, we produce a comprehensive
four-colour program with a wide range of evening classes and
lectures, including exercise, needlecraft, IT, languages, cooking,
crafts, navigation, music, culture, and religion.
Every year, spring and autumn catalogues (www.fo.dk) are made,
along with a lecture package featuring lectures for the
). In addition, the magazine NICOLAI (nicolai.fo-aarhus.dk)
is mailed to evening class teachers and students 4 times a year.
Evening class teachers elect a representative with voting rights to
the board of FO-Aarhus.
Main area 2: Projects
Since the 80s, FO-Aarhus has run a wide range of projects
). Some of these are going on more than ten
- Projects for refugees and immigrants, e.g. Vision and Insight,
Half Heaven, Arabesque, and Words and Life.
- Projects with practical as well as theoretical activities, like
Water and Woods and The Clean Team.
- Projects focusing on computers, e.g. Propylon.
- Projects for underprivileged groups, e.g. The Creative Workshop
for late developers, Project Fast Lane for former drug addicts and
Project Picture Trail for those with psychological problems.
- Projects meant to assist those going into the job market, e.g.
the Corporate Stewardesses, Bachelor with Ballast, Job-breaker, Job
Placement of Refugees and Immigrants, Immediate Clarification and
Every project is self-managing and answers to the school head.
Frequent closing-time meetings are held for all project managers
and every two weeks, a newsletter is delivered to all projects and
Gimle courses. In 1998-99, supplementary training for project
managers and Gimle course managers in FO-Aarhus was created in
cooperation with The Teaching College of Denmark. The projects
elect a representative with voting rights to the board of
The Gimle folk high schoolIn 1995, FO-Aarhus established a folk
high school and called it Gimle after the golden, heavenly hall of
the ancient Norse gods.
The Gimle folk high school has its own board and support group,
frequent meetings are held for all project managers, and 6-8 times
a year, common events are organized for all Gimle students.
Aarhus school of special education (AAS)
In 1997, FO-Aarhus merged with the Aarhus school of special
education which runs an all-day school for late developers. After
the merger, the AAS program remains unchanged.
FO-Aarhus is difficult to describe with regards to its
organization. It doesn't seem to match the existing organizational
theories and schemes, but one thing is for certain: FO-Aarhus
doesn't have the hierarchical structure of a pyramid.
However, structure was the theme for one of the courses in our
supplementary training for project managers and course managers
which fed people's imagination. One work group drew the structure
as the cosmos above Earth. The structure of FO-Aarhus is visualized
as outer space, in which all elements move in a particular circuit
while being part of one or more shared circuits. The "mother
planet" FO-Aarhus has been placed in the periphery, since it is
organizationally linked with many associates, e.g. legislators, not
part of the core business area of FO-Aarhus. The projects and
courses are viewed as "autonomous" planets which revolve around
their axis while in a particular circuit, either by themselves or
accompanied by another planet. The planets are part of the great
circuit of FO-Aarhus. Shooting stars may symbolize single projects,
e.g. Culture Night, Green Guide event or Evening Class Open House.
Satellites are a sort of benchmarks which guide as well as check.
Another group drew FO-Aarhus as a bi-celled amoeba with separate
nuclei but with common, ever-changing plasma.
Yet another group described FO-Aarhus as a marketplace with
stalls for every taste, surrounded by houses, and with a crossroads
in the centre, in which people socialize.
Finally, a third group imagined FO-Aarhus as a soapbox car being
pushed by a group of all sorts of people. Driving the soapbox car
is N.F.S. Grundtvig with the school manager on his lap.
In FO-Aarhus, all communicative lines come together in the
administration and finally, with the school manager and his
- The course shop, which handles student signup for all of the
activities of FO-Aarhus and the Gimle folk high school. In
addition, the shop organizes senior citizen lectures and makes
reimbursement statements for the local authorities.
- Accounting, which similarly handles all of the varying branches
- The Development group that consists of employees specializing in
varying areas, e.g. marketing, foundation applications,
international co-operation, and project management.
FO-Aarhus (Free Education Association)
Frederiksgade 78 C
DK-8000 Aarhus C
Tel +45 87 46 45 00
Fax +45 86 20 28 78