German pupils cook for books

As an exercise in appreciating the value of money, the third grade at the International School of Stuttgart were told that they had to make some.

"The challenge that was put to them was: how do you make money?" said Heather Hebron, their teacher. "Short of robbing a bank, stealing it or printing their own, setting up a business was the only way."

The two classes of eight and nine- year-olds brainstormed ideas for potential money-making businesses. One class decided to operate a restaurant out of the school kitchen, while the other opened an in-school cinema for two days.

Lacking any capital for their projects, the pupils sought out potential investors. Parents, teachers and siblings were all pressed to buy shares in the businesses, at a rate of one euro per share.

Occasionally, though, share certificates were also given away, in recognition of useful service provided. Five euros' worth were given to the manager of the five-star Graf Zeppelin hotel in Stuttgart, after he invited pupils into his hotel kitchen, and showed how the restaurant was run.

Pupils were invited to apply for the jobs available within the school restaurant and the cinema: they filled out application forms and were interviewed by classmates.

All decisions were by consensus: the classes voted on what food would be served, what films shown, and how best to promote projects.

Ms Hebron said: "Kids who normally had problems with addition and subtraction became much better at it when money was involved."

Both projects exceeded expectations: the restaurant had to move to a larger venue when almost 70 customers made dinner reservations, rather than the expected 20. After returning shareholders' original stake, a profit of 775 euros (pound;500) remained.

After consulting investors, the pupils decided to donate all the money to the TES-UNICEF appeal. "I would think it wouldn't be fun not to go to school," said nine-year-old Nicholas, one of the restaurant chefs.

"If you get a book, you'd only be able to look at the pictures and guess what it is about, and you wouldn't know if you were right."

Having worked hard to raise their money, the pupils are aware of its value to their Afghan counterparts.

"In their place, I would be glad to get some money. And I would know others care that I'm out there without money for school," said Nicholas.

Another voice, 20

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