Waldorf schools and Waldorf kindergartens around the world are facing a great challenge in coping with energy price increases.
Prices are currently rising in almost every country around the world, and almost every aspect of life is affected. Food is becoming more expensive, as well as energy and heating costs. Naturally, this also affects Waldorf schools, Waldorf kindergartens and educational and social therapy institutions worldwide. As the cost of living is rising everywhere, many parents are unable to pay higher school fees. This becomes a particular problem in countries that are already suffering from economic problems. The examples we present to you in the following accounts make it clear: the day-to-day operation of schools and kindergartens is becoming more and more expensive, the prices for current building projects are rising hugely, and it is becoming impossible for institutions to keep within agreed and signed-off budgets. With this appeal for donations, we would like to ask you for your support for these schools.
Argentina has been in an economically catastrophic situation for some time, and here comes a new wave. In October 2022, the inflation rate was 88 percent compared to the previous month; since 2018, it has never been below 30 percent. In this respect, the people in Argentina are survival artists; they know how to live from hand to mouth and have rich experience in bartering. They come to terms with the situation before them. And this arrangement includes young parents moving from cities to the surrounding countryside, where housing is cheaper, and you can grow vegetables in the garden. These former city dwellers are the clientele looking for Waldorf schools in the villages and small towns. And if there are no schools, then they are founded. These small ‘starter’ Waldorf schools often open in temporary premises for which, of course, there is no planning permission. Over time, the school buildings have to become more stable, and there is no money for that. However, there is a willingness to get involved. That is why in some places the school buildings can only be built to cover the cost of materials. And because parents, teachers and children are involved, the school communities learn and grow together. When things go well, a strong network of relationships, full of warmth and enthusiasm, develops. However, they cannot do it alone. That is why we are regularly asked by many small Waldorf schools in Argentina for support, especially for the building projects. It is always deeply astonishing to see the dedication and sacrifice that goes into building new kindergartens and schools in Argentina, and we would be very happy if we could support them with your donation.
The Hungarian Association of Waldorf Schools was the first ever to approach us with a request to help their schools cope with price increases. "We were only able to fix the electricity prices until the end of the year," reports Rudolf Jörg, the managing director of the Göllner Mária Regionális Waldorf Gimnázium in Budapest. For example, "from the first of January 2023 the prices are likely to increase fivefold." Added to this is rising inflation, which is a bit higher in Hungary than in Germany. But teachers have been receiving a constant salary for many years and the schools in Hungary do not see themselves in a position to compensate for inflation by offering higher salaries to staff this year either. The uncertainty of being able to maintain school operations at all in the face of rising costs is too great. "The extent of the problem cannot be calculated exactly because prices are constantly changing," explains Zoltán Szabó from the Association of Hungarian Waldorf Schools. "However, a rough estimate is that the additional funds needed to finance the price increase amount to between 2 and 3 billion forints (5 - 7 million EUR) per year for all Waldorf educational institutions (45 schools, 58 kindergartens and 7 seminars).” The Waldorf schools and kindergartens are trying their best to pay for the additional expenditure. But at this level it will be difficult to do so. Every donation is therefore very welcome.
Already in our Spring newsletter, "Waldorf Weltweit", we reported on various building projects worldwide. Some have already been completed, others are still at the beginning. As in Germany, almost all countries worldwide are experiencing a hefty increase in building costs. After a brief period of building costs stagnating at a high level in 2021, there was an even more dramatic increase in 2022, triggered by the war in Ukraine and the aftermath of the Corona pandemic. For many Waldorf schools around the world that are dependent on new buildings, this becomes a risk that is difficult to calculate. This is also the case for the Waldorf School in Yerevan, Armenia. Since 1994, the Waldorf School in Yerevan has grown to 19 classes with over 600 pupils. Every year there are far more applications for places than the school can provide. Already now, the space in the current school building is no longer sufficient. The solution? A second school is to be built on the outskirts of the city. A suitable plot of land is available, and the first stages of construction have begun. For the new building, and the much-needed renovation of the currently overloaded building, which will continue to be used, the school is dependent on support from abroad. This support does exist, but due to the loss in value of the euro, less money is available at the end of the day, and the costs continue to rise. Nevertheless, every euro donated helps here, too.
The crises of our time - both the inner and the outer ones - have a direct impact on Waldorf schools and Waldorf kindergartens. While the inner crises can only be overcome through self-activity, we can help in overcoming the outer crises. And we sincerely hope that we will find willing contributors in you, our supporters, and that you will help us so that the worldwide Waldorf movement can also move through this crisis. We count on you, so that others can be helped.