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YOUR FORUM FOR PLAY, SPORTS UND LEISURE AREAS

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didacta 2019: larger, more international and digital than ever before – including the ‘schools as exercise spaces’ project

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This was the largest and most international didacta education trade fair of all time – everyone was pleased with the outcome when this year's event in Cologne concluded on 23 February 2019. There were satisfied smiles on the faces of exhibitors as they were able to welcome some 100,000 visitors. A total of 915 businesses from 53 different countries took the opportunity to showcase themselves at what is the world's largest fair for the education sector. "Cologne is the ideal venue for didacta," points out Gerald Böse, chairman of the board of Koelnmesse GmbH, the organisers. He added that the enhanced international character of the fair indicated how important it had become for the sector as a whole, while its significance, he claims, is also growing in more than just business terms. "The 2019 didacta has not only provided major sales opportunities for those operating in the education business but has also made notable contributions to socio-political developments in this field," he concludes.

The exhibitors themselves expressed praise for the organisers. The main target groups attended, there were fruitful and varied discussions between exhibitors and visitors and a wealth of new business contacts were made, making enterprises optimistic in terms of what they can expect after the fair.

One of the main themes of this didacta fair was digitalisation and the associated challenges that this brings with it for pupils, teachers and the education sector as a whole. This was a topic represented throughout the fair that attracted the interest of all visitor groups and many of the other 750 exhibitors had digital products designed for future learning among their range on view.

This didacta also played host to the 'Bewegungsraum Schule' – schools as exercise spaces – project. This theme was given a prominent position on the boulevard between the exhibition halls with its focus on school playground design and gymnasium equipment. The Public Spaces, Sports and Leisure Facilities (FSB) fair organisers, the Association of German Sports Article Industry (BSI), the German Association of Playground and Leisure Equipment Manufacturers (BSFH) and Playground + Landscape there set up a forum through which talks were presented and other information disseminated. On all five days of the fair, they were there to report on aspects of play- and exercise-friendly design of school playgrounds and gymnasia. There was also a series of interesting talks on the topics. Although the subject of digitalisation was very much the core concern of the fair, the 'Bewegungsraum Schule' participants were readily able to put their views across.

Among the speakers were Prof. Dr. Robin Kähler (IAKS Germany), Detlef Berthold (Head of Sport Facility Construction, North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Sport), Steffen Strasser (Head for Exercise at the BFSH vocational school) and Oliver Seeck (Head of the Apostelgymnasium school in Cologne). In order to further underline the importance of the topic and attract increased interest in the subject of innovative exercise spaces for schools, the organisers intend to increase their presence at future didacta fairs.

Reinhard Koslitz, MD of the Didacta Association, saw the fair in a very positive light: "Exhibitors and organisers have successfully put together a fair at which the ideas and stimuli provided for visitors have exceeded those of the past. And ever more of these are originating from outside Germany as the proportion of international exhibitors has further increased."

The fair has again underscored its role as Europe's most significant educational conference and meeting place for the professionals and public through the roughly 1400 activities that were launched as part of the broadly diversified event, lecture and congress programme. Representatives from the worlds of business, academia, politics and society together with other prominent persons spoke on all five days of the fair on subjects of educational policy and discussed ways and means of adapting the existing education system to the needs of the present.

The 2019 didacta in Cologne: facts and figures

A total of 915 businesses from 53 countries participated in this year's didacta – 149 of these came from outside Germany. The figures for the number of visitors, exhibitors and exhibition space employed have been collated and verified in accordance with the guidelines of the FKM – the German fair statistics organisation.

The next didacta is to be held on 24 - 28 March 2020 in Stuttgart while 2022 will see Cologne again hosting the fair.

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