Governance, Benchmarking and Training Tools for Diversity Positive ECEC Provision (Diversity+)
Diversity+ looks to develop governance, benchmarking, recognition and professionalization tools for Early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals in order to understand and improve their current approach to Diversity inclusion.
Diversity+ will develop a complementary „top down“ approach which allows ECEC organizations to fully understand how different Diversity identities fit into their services, and so develop approaches which are fully inclusive to all. This will be achieved by calibrating the EU Quality Framework for ECEC in light of inclusiveness of provision. Diversity+ resources will create a structured and supported approach to quality inclusive service design. Partners will first develop a Diversity+ Charter which will set out the minimum requirements an ECEC organization needs to conform to in order to consider its provision Diversity positive. This will be achieved through desk and field research into current best practices and emergent trends across Europe. The Charter will then be used as the basis for an interactive digital Assessment tool which ECEC practitioners will be able to use to assess their current services and then track their improvement. This will be achieved through incentivized guidance and support, which will highlight how ECEC organizations can evidence and improve provisions. With sustainability and long-term impact in mind, the partners will produce European Quality Framework profile and training resources for the development of a Diversity Ambassador role. The Interactive Scenario serious game will help ECEC practitioners remove negative attitudes, bias and prejudices among kids (formed from about the age of 3), fostering empathy, compassion and awareness in relation to equality and diversity.
The project will demonstrate the value for ECEC organizations in dedicating permanent time and resource to inclusivity issues, something which will also help the projects´other tools continue to be used after Diversity+ itself comes to an end. Throughout these activities the project will look to engage with ECEC leaders, educators and assistants, HR managers, equality and diversity leads etc. from across Europe. This will be complemented by the involvement of Diversity advocacy groups and policy makers. Therefore, the project will produce highly transferable resources and will help Diversity+ achieve a wide impact on governance structures found across ECEC institutions, helping these organizations to become more welcoming and inclusive for a range of Diversity identities. This will see an improvement in the number of children from these groups engaging with ECEC services, helping to address the current underrepresentation of minority groups. As a result, more people from within these groups will develop key social skills, empathy, compassion, mutual respect and awareness in relation to equality and rights, something which will ultimately improve social inclusion long-term across the countries involved.
MediaParents – Competence Training for Media Education of Parents in Rural Areas
Media literacy is a central key competence in a society, where everyday life and the working world are significantly influenced by digitization. Thus, competencies in the digital world are becoming a central prerequisite for social participation and they are absolutely necessary for a successful educational and professional career.
The main goal of the project is to enable parents to deal with the topic and to provide them with sufficient information. One way to support parents in their media education tasks is to offer themed and institutionally detached parents´ evenings. In this way, media-pedagogical knowledge and practical handouts can be imparted in a way that is suitable for everyday use in home education and can be developed together in a common exchange. Especially in rural regions across Europe, there is a lack of trained media educators. Parents and adults from different professional backgrounds, such as educational specialists or lecturers, can be the right partners in the future.
The following activities will be implemented to achieve the project objective:
- Development of an advanced training concept for the realization of topic-related and target group-oriented e-learning courses (adapted to different age groups of children) to qualify as MediaParent consultants in form of a curriculum to qualify as MediaParent consultants;
- Development of an e-learning platform with target group-specific courses on various media education topics to qualify as a MediaParent consultant. Such a digital course offer, open to everyone, is not yet available, especially for this type of region. Due to international cooperation, this platform would gain an innovative character;
- Establishment of a collection of practice-proven, topic-related, and target-group specific materials for preparation and follow-up as well as the implementation of media-pedagogical parents’ evenings. This collection of materials should relieve the “voluntary” consultants of time and work and so increase the willingness to hold a parents’ evening;
- A suitable and to the regional conditions’ specific method for the evaluation of learning performance for future MediaParent consultants will be developed. The evaluation will be carried out through online-based test procedures. The participant will receive a certificate of participation as proof of acquired knowledge. As the competence assessment will be online-based, it is particularly suitable for rural areas;
- Development of a database as a background for a dynamic map in the frontend, which serves to find MediaParent consultants in the surrounding area. In addition, registered MediaParent consultants can use the platform for exchange and networking amongst each other and across national borders.
Action for Roma Engagement, Entrepreneurship, Employment and Empowerement
The overall aim is to introduce and enhance an innovative model of learning based on exchanges between Program (Slovakia and Serbia) and Partner countries (Bosnia & Herzegovina and Albania), learning mobility and cooperation between youth organizations and non-formal education providers. This will be achieved through piloting a new toolkit for Media literacy and Critical thinking, piloting and upscaling the toolkit for the social and financial education of teenagers, and through sharing the experience in mobilizing and empowering youth to become peer educators, thus strengthening non-formal education in most disadvantaged communities of the project countries. The action is based on non-formal learning delivered by youth organizations offering young people education content supporting their active engagement, and equal opportunities in both the labour market and society. The most important distinctive feature of this program is the synergy of social and entrepreneurial competencies, applying innovative and active pedagogies, including open and digital learning tools.
The specific objectives are:
O1 – To design relevant innovative and flexible models of learning aimed at acquiring/improving the employability skills of young people.
O2 – To raise capacities of youth organizations and provide them with tools necessary for the delivery of a new form of training based on non-formal flexible learning methods, learning mobility, and virtual cooperation.
O3 – To launch, test, and implement new practical training schemes based on learning mobility aimed at improving participants´ level of competences and fostering their active participation in society.
O4 – To strengthen the influence of youth organizations in advocating for validation and recognition of competences acquired through non-formal learning.
These objectives will be reached combining capacity building, learning mobility, and advocacy actions, stimulating networking and exchange among its main target groups: youth organizations, education providers and local/national policy-makers.
TOY FOR INCLUSION – Accessibility
The goal of the project is to increase preparedness and access to regular education for young Romani children with and without disabilities in Dolany – Roskovce.
Specific objectives are:
SO1 – To organize inclusive non-formal education activities for young Romani children with and without disabilities to facilitate a smooth transition into primary education and improving their educational experience and performance in the long run.
SO2 – To educate Roma (future) parents on responsible parenting (including children with disabilities), so that they can better support their children at home and in school and education activities.
SO3 – To build the capacities of the education, health, and social services to be more inclusive towards children with disabilities and their families, and to be culturally sensitive towards those from minority backgrounds.
Necessary activities to achieve these goals:
- Desk research on most promising evidence-based approaches for inclusive education for children with special needs;
- Development of the toolkit for practitioners on working with children with special needs and their parents;
- Building the capacity of the Local Action Team regarding work with „harder to reach“ children with disabilities and their parents (trainings, workshops, seminars);
- Implementation of local non-formal community-based ECEC initiatives for parents (Parenting Support Program workshops, Health advice, Social advice, training, seminars with ECEC experts – teachers, medical doctors, dentists, psychologists, etc.) and for their children with special needs (activities to support their skills, knowledge, and preparation for entering (pre) primary education; Music therapy – connecting children with different abilities and cultural backgrounds through music and cultural activities);
- Improving mutual tolerance through integrative activities;
- Design of evaluation tools and dissemination.
AFLATEEN – Social and Financial Education for Engagement, Entrepreneurship and Employment
The general objective of the project is to empower young people and their parents through the development of civic and social competences, to become agents of change for themselves and their communities. The aim is to offer a solution for the lack of financial and entrepreneurship education in Hungary, Serbia, and Slovakia, which has been identified as one of the roots of high rates of unemployment among young people in the region.
The specific objective of our project is to create and adapt a curriculum for developing the social and financial competences of young people aged 15-18, to be used by youth workers in their everyday work, and a training material for trainers to train youth workers to use this curriculum, as the correct approach is essential in this field of competence development and by simply downloading the curriculum and using it.
Following the development of the materials, we will train 5 trainers per country who will be the ambassadors of the new approach, as well as the trainers in the following international training of youth workers. We will involve 20 youth workers from 10 NGOs/youth organizations in each country in the pilot training. Involving them in pursuing one common cause will also naturally create multiple networking opportunities for them.
The trainers will reach out to more than 600 young people in the three countries. During this phase of the project, they will receive on-line mentoring and support. After the pilot training and field testing, we plan to spread the experiences of the program to the wider audience of stakeholders on the national level through the round table discussions organized in each country and on the international level at the final conference where participants from all the countries will have the opportunity to present the results of the project. We will also use the Aflatoun network in more than 100 countries to share the created knowledge through newsletters, online platforms, and Facebook. Through digital channels, youth workers and children will be able to connect to a network of peers from 106 countries and exchange knowledge, skills, and ideas. They will also be linked to the Aflateen Digital platform where young people (teenagers) can learn more about activism and joint actions. This will also enrich their experience, broaden their perspectives, and help them understand the benefits of diversity.
At the times of increased need for financial literacy and increased entrepreneurial skills of all citizens, our studies have shown that neither children nor adults (both teachers and parents) have the required skills. Most existing initiatives for assisting educational institutions and civil society to help young people gain financial and entrepreneurial skills needed for better employability and inclusion into the labour market and society are concentrating narrowly on project and business plan development and project management, without giving the broader skills for saving, investing, or any other financial aspect. Also, there is a lack of active parental involvement in the development of social and financial skills of their children.
TOY FOR INCLUSION – Toys to Share, Play to Care
The general objective of the project is to engage the ‘hard to reach’ young children and families from migrant and ethnic minority backgrounds in quality inclusive non-formal community-based Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) initiatives in order to facilitate a smooth transition into primary education and improve their educational experience and performance in the long term.
The specific objective of this project is to scale up and embed in policy the TOY for Inclusion approach to combating segregation and from migrant and ethnic minority backgrounds and ethnic minority backgrounds to quality and inclusive ECEC.
The families, who come to ECEC Play Hubs centers for non-formal ECEC managed by the Local Action Teams, do not only spend time with their children but also meet new families from different backgrounds. The new relationships and bonds forged in the ECEC Play Hubs are extending to other areas. The proven success of the ECEC Play Hubs in some countries is attracting sponsors from the private sector and support from local authorities.
The project will develop the proven good practices from TOY for Inclusion on a wider scale to include migrant and marginalized children in general and not just Roma. They will also be implemented in additional communities in the 7 countries where TOY for Inclusion is already being implemented, as well as in one new country, EU candidate country Turkey. Priority will be given to the provision of training and mentoring to practitioners from education, health and social care, and community development as well as to local authorities to support them in dealing with diversity and promoting inclusion. Experienced practitioners and local policymakers in the TOY for Inclusion approach will act as role models for those who are new to the approach.
The project focuses on the very young children between 0 and 6 years old, who are not yet in the age of compulsory schooling or who are in the first year of primary school. It proposes to expand, readapt, transfer and upscale the already piloted TOY for Inclusion approach, which developed a participatory community-based methodology to the design and implementation of non-formal ECEC services focused on social inclusion within a ‘progressive universalism approach’, with specific attention to the inclusion of Roma children and families. ‘Toys to Share, Play to care’ will extend the reach of the TOY for Inclusion approach to include migrant, minority, and ‘harder to reach’ children more in general by creating new non-formal ECEC initiatives in 8 EU countries as well as by building the capacities of local authorities to embed this approach at systemic and policy level.
The project involves organizations that are already implementing the TOY for Inclusion approach and organizations and countries that are new to it. Through the project, the first group will ensure continuity, scaling-up, and sustainability to the existing ECEC initiatives. Each country will develop contextualized approaches based on local needs, within a common framework: some countries will create new ECEC initiatives in one new locality; others will invest in creating a network of local organizations that will implement approaches and activities focused on social inclusion and inclusive ECEC. The second group – new partners – will receive training and support on how to invest in social inclusion from the more experienced partners and will implement non-formal ECEC initiatives in one locality in their country. In total, 14 ECEC initiatives will be implemented in 7 EU countries.
REYN Slovakia – Network of Educators Working with Young Romani Children
Numerous studies around the world document that children from poor families often grow up in households that do not stimulate learning or language development, and they engage in fewer activities with adults than their peers from more wealthy families. The socio-economic status of the family significantly influences the cognitive, social, physical, and emotional development of the child’s personality. At the age of 3, it is possible to observe the differences between the personality development level of children from poor environments and their peers from less poor environments, and these developmental differences get more pronounced every year during childhood.
Therefore, in 2014, our organization decided to establish a network of educators working with young Romani children and their parents – an advocacy platform and a platform for the development of professional competencies. We strive to work together and become better at what we do to be able to offer high-level education, a multicultural approach to education in kindergartens and primary schools, community and health centers, and social services. At present, our network consists of more than 500 members, friends, and supporters, including teachers, social workers, health workers, community activists, parents, government officials, and local government members. REYN Slovakia was established following the international REYN network based in the city of Leiden in the Netherlands. A total of 11 national networks are currently active in Europe.
The main goal of the project is to strengthen the network of educators – REYN Slovakia to create an influential advocacy platform, actively influencing early childhood and parental policies, introducing positive change to the climate and the environment, in which the Romani children develop and learn at the local, regional and national levels.
- Advocacy activities – research of the current situation in non-formal education of young Romani children and their parents, participation in advisory bodies and commissions of state institutions, development of model inclusive plans for educational institutions, organization of multiplication events (round tables, conferences);
- Professional development of network members – organization of educational workshops and training in the field of inclusive education;
- Organization of study trips abroad;
- Regular communication with the network members to exchange experiences and present good practices through social networks.