A friend forwarded me information about this site https://threema.ch/en for texting to Germany plus other features.
The key to its utility seems to be that it's 'secure'. I pass it along to you because of your school partnership. FYI: I'll just share here what this one person said about Threema:
"Yes, I do use Skype for conversation. I know that Skype also has a messaging function, which is similar to an “instant messenger” but I don’t really use that. While Threema is indeed a messaging service, I use it in lieu of texting/SMS. There are several reasons why I don’t text much - one of them is data privacy concerns. It also has other functions, like polling your friends, which might be interesting to others. But as I said, out of principle, it's basic data privacy and end-to-end encryption that are of importance to me.
My brother, who turned me on to Threema, said that he personally does not (yet) have that many Threema contacts. I find that hard to believe. It appears that even in Germany most people use WhatsApp, because it is free (!!! at least for the first year) - compared to the whopping *one-time ever* 1.99 euro investment in Threema.
I'm surprised how few people seem to care about data privacy. And considering who actually owns/is behind “free” services such as Skype (Microsoft?) or WhatsApp (Facebook?), I'm happy to have found a way that focuses on the old German proverb –
“Umsonst ist nur der Tod, und selbst der kostet das Leben”.
[Only Death comes for free; well, all it costs is your life.]
Yup, I think Threema is awesome."