Youth integration and empowerment project
Based on the successful experience of the previous activities, such as “EXPLORING. BELONGING. ACTING” and “Participation, Cooperation, Integration: Together in the 21st century”, Education Development Centre (EDC) with the support of the British Council Latvia in November 2018 has started implementation of the new Youth integration and empowerment project “Living, Learning and Working TOGETHER”.
The aim of the Project
The aim of the Project is to provide opportunities for young people, especially for students from schools with significant numbers of minority students to engage in interactive, meaningful experiences with other peers in Latvia; to learn about Latvia in the context of European and global values; to develop sense of belonging; to increase understanding about variety of choices in the modern world and strengthen readiness to build their personal future applying critical thinking, media literacy, cultural awareness and expression, design thinking, debating and other skills and competences needed for promoting social cohesion and active citizenship at the level of school, community and national level.
Central to the concept of the project is the idea that intercultural understanding and healthy openness to diversity can be developed and promoted through active participation, engagement in processes, reflection and acknowledgement of plurality and multiply perspectives as asset and resource, through genuine cultural experiences, personal engagement etc. recognizing that we all have complex and constantly developing identities formed through the interaction with different people and a variety of forms of experiences and cultural expressions.
During 17 months of the project more than 6360 participants have participated in 110 project activities, of them, 4775 pupils and 1217 teachers from 51 educational institutions in 24 municipalities of Latvia and approximately 371 representatives of local communities. The project activities took place in 15 project schools as well as in 13 other schools of Latvia represented by the project’s trainer of trainers group consisting of 15 people. The project gave a possibility for 145 pupils and 35 teachers to participate: in four events – the days of getting acquainted with the culture and diversity of Latvia in Liepāja, Daugavpils and Rīga; participate in seven school exchange events; besides the direct primary target group of the project 172 teachers from 37 educational institutions in five regions of Latvia improved their professional competence in the content and skills frame of the project by acquiring the professional development programme (24 hours); 118 events, based on the acquired knowledge and skills, have been organized in schools and communities of Latvia.
In January 31 – February 2, 2019 three day workshop “Values, opportunities and challenges in the context of diversity” opening event of the youth integration and empowerment project “Living, learning and working TOGETHER” started for representatives from over 30 schools. 15 schools were represented with the teams consisting of two high school level students, teacher and representative of the school administration and for them it was real opportunity to get to know each other better and to engage in common activities. Group of more experienced teachers from other schools also participated to improve their capacity to act as mentors and adult educators. Such composition of the participants was designed in order to ensure that content and methodology of the workshop can be perceived from different perspectives – students, teachers, school administrators - and each target group will contribute with more specific suggestion for follow-up activities in the schools and communities. More
Approach and participants of the Project
Youth integration and empowerment project “Living, Learning and Working TOGETHER” is designed to promote and strengthen social cohesion, integration, openness to diversity and opportunities and overcoming challenges applying skills essential for the life in the 21st century. In order to achieve this goal EDC is planning to engage in the core group of the project teams from 15 schools from different parts / regions of Latvia, especially from schools in regions of Latvia where Russian speaking population is more represented and schools provide minority education programs (in total 60 participants, students and educators). In addition 15 teachers from different schools throughout Latvia will be engaged in the activities and will become multipliers/adult education trainers on issues of media literacy, cultural awareness and expression, critical thinking and youth integration. In total 15 involved schools and 15 multipliers/ adult educators through more than 50 events taking place during the 17 months of the project period will reach out to at least 5000 persons including 3800 students in age range 14-20 years. Opportunities will be provided for this very important target group to learn new knowledge and skills, to establish and strengthen links among schools and surrounding communities, to promote civic participation and contribution to achieving common goals.
During diverse interactive workshops and sessions both teachers and students will increase their knowledge, skills and dispositions in areas of critical thinking, media literacy, cultural awareness and expression, design thinking and other related issues. These competences are crucial for achieving personal and professional goals as well as active participation in social life and civic processes in the democratic country. Application of such competences are important starting from class, school and community level, so many activities will be tailored in order to increase engagement in local groups and communities. Special attention will be devoted to minimizing gap among schools with different languages of instruction, as well from different communities, e.g., cities and rural areas.
Youngsters will learn more about each other and will engage in joined activities thus widening their experience regarding cultural differences and also similar needs and aspirations. Activities will take place also outside the schools bringing together different people from the community.
- Three days introductory capacity building workshop
- Getting to know Latvia field trips for students and teachers with emphases on exploring cultural heritage and contemporary expressions
- Development and implementation of the local community projects
- Mutual schools’ exchange visits for getting to know each other
- Four days capacity building Summer school
- Participation in the Democracy festival „Lampa” in Cēsis
- Preparation and implementation of the National conference and evaluation of the experience gained during the project
- Preparation and dissemination of the collection of the best practices – methodological support for educators and youth workers
- Ongoing dissemination of the information
It is very important to provide opportunities for both students and teachers from diverse communities, different language and socio-economic backgrounds to engage in first hand experiences to get to know each other, to learn about different communities and to find out that needs and interests are much more alike than different. Gaining such experiences go hand in hand with improving 21st century skills, such as media literacy, critical thinking, civic engagement, communication etc.
There are several consecutive steps in the project leading to the change: 1) learning about possible activities and instruments for engagement and participation (national events), 2) applying new knowledge in practice (local – school and community activities), 3) developing first-hand experience about values and current events in Latvia, internalizing gained experience to strengthen sense of belonging (field trips, exchange activities, joined projects), 4) practicing discussion skills and seeing issues in the “bigger picture” in connection with European and global processes and values (Democracy festival “Lampa”).
Getting and providing feedback and evaluation of the process and its results will take place throughout the project. Also summarizing and dissemination of the gained experiences will serve as a input in the sustainability of the project results.
- Knowledge, skills and experiences in area of critical thinking, media literacy, cultural awareness and expression, design thinking and other related issues will be increased for students and also teachers as a bases for more innovative and successful work in the school and community everyday life in the future
- New ideas will be disseminated regarding interactive teaching methodology, especially in area of citizenship and value education, also in the non-formal and extracurricular settings and activities
- Increased firsthand experience and knowledge of Latvia, paired with reflection on mutual relations among diversity, values and innovations
- Extended range of contacts with experts indifferent areas who will help to plan and implement activities for and with students focused of civic participation and active engagement
- Establishing new contacts with youngsters and professionals from other schools
- Improved skills to communicate and disseminate new experience to colleagues, community members etc. through diverse media channels
Project director - Linda Kluša
Content and methodology experts - Aija Tūna and Iveta Vērse
Project accountant - Aija Rusiņa
Project assistant - Līga Puniņa