Project „Diversity as a resource for education and community development”
Education Development centre (EDC) project "Diversity as a resource for education and community development" (Nr.2013.EEZ/PP/2/MAC/011/059) of the subprogram “Project programs of non-governmental organizations” of the EEZ financial instrument program “NGO fund” was implemented from March 2015 till April 2016. Project was implemented in cooperation with Latvian Community Initiative foundation (LKIF) and the National Centre for Multicultural Education of Norway (NAFO).
The aim of the project is to promote the formation of a single, democratic wellbeing society in Latvia on the basis of the intercultural dialogue, the integration of the diverse groups of the society, educational activities and and active participation in the life of the society.
The project has resulted in a developed program and methodological materials that have been piloted in different target audiences. 15 schools of Latvia have become the support and resource centres in the topics of intercultural, integration and civic education. The collection of project experience materials- the set of methodological materials on integration “Diversity as a resource” - will be useful for a wide circle of education and integration specialists. The project outcomes will be available to any interested person also after the end of the project.
The set of methodological materials on integration “Diversity as a resource” (LV) available here.
The project “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” has finished
The final and sustainability planning conference in the project “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” took place on April 21.
Teams of 15 project schools, municipality representatives from the places of project implementation, experts in education and integration area came together to evaluate the achievements in the project and to plan the future cooperation. The conference participants were greeted by Evija Papule, head of the Education department, Ministry of Education and Science. She wished all the project schools to become the integration excellence centres in future. Ivars Indāns, expert of European External activities services acquainted the conference participants with the European Union migration policy topicalities. The conference was attended also by the representatives of the project partner organization NAFO - National Centre for Multicultural Education of Norway. Dag Fjæstad gave the insight into the action directions of NAFO. Saleh Mousavi in his presentation told in detail about multicultural schools and bilingual education in Norway.
Representatives of the project schools acknowledge that teachers in Latvia more frequently have to face situations when children born in different countries, who have a different prior learning experience, age, religious faith, nationality and the colour of skin are learning in the same class. In such situations the teacher’s general pedagogical proficiency, psychological readiness, intercultural communication skills as well as teacher’s personality and values become equally important with the skill to teach one’s subject. Schools and teachers most often solve the above mentioned situations with their own effort- within the existing resources and support systems. The project “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” turned out to be especially urgent and useful in such a situation. It created a platform for the exchange of experience and joint learning about the inclusion of newly-arrived people; it offered the experts’ advice and teaching/learning materials. The project encouraged the participants to look also for the local support resources- municipality institutions, NGOs, active community members, learners’ parents.
The set of the methodological materials on integration “Diversity as a resource”
The publication acquaints its users with the program developed in the project, the experience of schools gained in the piloting of the program and opinions regarding challenges in diversity management and the support needed for schools in their work with immigrants. The examples of teaching/learning activities on the identity and diversity, languages and religions, migration and intercultural communication issues as well as plans of individual support events, ideas for the educational work and thematic seminars to work with adults will be useful for practicing educationalists. The target audience of the materials about the establishment of a common school support system for work with multicultural learners and their families is the school administration. The publication gives an insight into applying the diversity potential in the communities as well as acquaints with the experience of the Norwegian partners. The publication is available in Latvian.
The program “Diversity as resource for education and community development”
The aim of the program – to increase the participants’ professional competence in intercultural education, extending their awareness about a multicultural society, integration processes and strengthening their skills to establish an inclusive environment in schools and local communities.
The target group of the program – teachers of different school subjects, class teachers, school administration representatives, student teachers, local community people and other people interested in education and integration issues.
Objectives of the program – to give theoretical insight into key topics of the theme; to update the most suitable pedagogical strategies and methods for the theme; to promote individual self-reflection and participants’ mutual sharing of experience; to inform about the good practice of the school; to facilitate the transfer of innovative experience; to acquaint with additional resources for a more profound acquisition of the theme.
Forms and methods used in the acquisition of the program– lectures and presentations, individual, group and pair work, exploration and analysis of policy documents, research and statistic information, argumentation tasks, discussions, work with concepts, establishment of cause and consequences relations, analysis of case studies, work with pictures and graphic organizers, questionnaire creation, mapping, analysis of video materials, planning of introduction, reflection activities, etc.
The content of the program
- Diversity in the society. Diversity in the world, Latvia, local community, school, classroom. Intercultural dialogue. Diversity as a resource for development. Multicultural environment in Latvia- possibilities and challenges.
- Identity and belonging. Formation and importance of identity. Diverse identities. The concept of flexible identity. Identity and societal integration.
- Migration processes in the world and Latvia. History of migration, local and global context, causes and consequences. Migration trends of today. Impact of migration processes on the formation of multicultural societies in Europe and Latvia.
- Stereotypes and prejudices. Formation of stereotypes and consequences. Intolerance and discrimination. Pedagogical strategies to decrease stereotypes and prevent discrimination.
- Intercultural education in schools. Planning of the teaching/learning and educational process in multicultural classes, pedagogical and psychological aspects. Development of support system in school for work with multicultural learners and their families.
- Cooperation between the local community and school for the development of a consolidated society. Resources of the local communities for the inclusion of immigrants in the education. Support mechanisms in schools and communities for the integration of immigrant children and families. Public services in a multicultural community. Team work for solving immigrants’ problems.
- Dimensions of the community life and elements of diversity management in the community. Dimensions of the community life and their representation in values and ethical notions. Diversity as a marketing resource. Multilingual strategies- diversity of languages and regulation of language use in the community.
- Additional resources for further acquisition of themes. Evaluation of the professional development program, planning of further activities.
Diversity in school and class - conclusions based on the project experience
Key of success of intercultural education
The society of Latvia is multi-ethnic– according to population census data of 2011, the representatives of more than 170 nations live in Latvia. Every year people from more than 70 different countries settle for life in Latvia. Majority of these people are able-bodied population and children. According to data provided by the Citizenship and migration department 30 % of those third country nationals settling in Latvia are children and young people under the age of 19. Educational institutions have a decisive role in the integration processes because a school is the place to master the state language, history, culture and civic participation skills. However, schools have to confront the intolerant attitude to the different that exists in the society and often it is rather complicated to manage the diversity and to teach tolerance. The educational institutions of Latvia are not sufficiently prepared to accept the diversity, there is no institutional support, and no support measures are developed for including the newly arrived young people in the society.
Therefore starting the project “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” an intercultural education programme has been developed which is based on the following key principles: awareness, belonging, unity and tolerance. The main content issues of the programme are: diversity in the society, identity and belonging, migration processes in Latvia and in the world, the cooperation of local community and school for establishing a single society, multicultural possibilities and problems in Latvia, dimensions of community life and changes in the community life as well as diversity management elements in the community. The programme has been developed for both the work with school learners and adults. In order to prepare teachers for the implementation of the programme in their educational institutions educational seminars were organized; the teams of 15 project schools mastered the content and methodological issues of intercultural education in them. The programme has been approbated in educational institutions of a different type, in work with children and young people of all ages, in schools with different languages of instruction and different experience of multicultural communication. Conclusions concerning the successes and challenges of implementing intercultural education were summarized at the end of the approbation and recommendations for implementing integration activities in schools and local communities have been developed.
People representing different cultures who have arrived in Latvia to continue establishing their life here were involved in the project activities. Such an approach helped to diminish prejudices and develop understanding about the needs and problems of people who have arrived and the way they perceive the life in Latvia.
Project participants on the experience how to teach diversity in a diverse environment
- The work with immigrants’ children is useful – this is a possibility to teach the Latvian language, to find out how these children feel the language, culture and the environment , to help children understand, explore things that are unclear and different in their everyday life and to receive trust from these children.
- Parents are educated along with their children. Providing support to children in the acquisition of the learning content it is also possible to reach their families.
- The project experience gave courage and stimulus to look for the local people who have settled for life in Latvia in order to invite them to school and to listen to their life stories.
- In future I will be more prepared to work with pupils from other countries; my psychological barriers have diminished.
Teachers on the benefits gained in the approbation of the programme
- We succeeded in changing pupils’ thoughts about different cultures.
- The methodological materials helped to lead the discussion in the classroom about the refugee issues; they encouraged talking about the state-related problems with secondary learners.
- Pupils worked actively in the social sciences lessons and became aware of the diversity problems in the society.
- We managed to consolidate the class; the young people developed the understanding about pupils from other countries.
- Pupils increased their awareness about the topical refugee issue; the interest about social processes has become regular.
In order to implement intercultural education in school in a well-planned and meaningful way it is necessary to change oneself– to raise teachers’ competence and to develop a single plan for including the newly-arrived people in school and the community. Several project schools have organized educational activities both for the teachers of other schools and representatives of other societal groups. Schools have developed an action plan for supporting families with children who arrive for life in Latvia from other countries.
Project participants on the transformations in schools
- Schools have developed a good, supporting microclimate for arrivals – positive attitude from people surrounding them.
- Teachers actively participated; we made individual plans for accepting the newly-arrived people.
- Sharing of experience with teachers in methodological commissions, schools of the region as well as with representatives of the local communities – leaders of cultural centres, heads of libraries, specialists on youth issues, trade union leaders- was important.
Challenges of intercultural education
Project participants on the challenges and adaptation of study materials
- The lack of time imposed difficulties. There is the understanding that these issues have to be discussed but it is difficult to find place for it in the teaching/learning process.
- It is hard to adapt the materials for work with different adult audiences – teachers, community representatives.
- It is difficult to adjust the study materials to younger pupils as well as to adapt the materials which are in Latvian to work with pupils whose language of instruction is Russian.
- One needs a lot of patience to teach pupils to listen to different opinions. Sometimes secondary learners are very categorical, even radical in their statements.
- I tried to encourage my pupils to think that they themselves in some situations could be different and in the minority.
Project participants on the work with immigrant and re-emigrant pupils
- The most difficult is to work with pupils who have neither Latvia, nor Russian nor English knowledge.
- My challenge was to work individually with a pupil who speaks only German and Arabic.
- The differences in the curricula in Latvia and countries from which the pupils have arrived complicate the work.
- I labour over developing the arrivals’ learning skills – to do home assignments, to have a notebook for each school subject.
- The challenge is to take into consideration the mentality of the new pupils, the differences in work with the families that have arrived from other cultures.
Insecurity, fear and prejudices are enabled by the lack of experience in the communication with the different. For decades the only “different” for the Latvian society had been the Russian-speaking people living aside and vice versa. We have started to encounter another “different” – people with a different colour of the skin, who speak languages that we do not know; who are bearers of unknown eating, dressing and other traditions, who have different religions- only in the recent past due to the globalization processes. Being aware of this, the school teams were asked to find possibilities during the approbation of the programme to meet people from their communities who represent another country or culture in order to get acquainted and to look upon the life in Latvia through their eyes. Project participants admit that it has been a rather difficult task- there are very few such people in the local community, especially in the countryside. It has also been difficult to persuade the arrivals in the community to cooperate- to tell about their feelings about living in Latvia.
Project participants on the attitude from the society
- The stereotypes existing in the society, the negative information in mass media and social networks complicates our, teachers’, work a lot.
- Events in France, Germany, and Sweden created difficulties in the approbation of the programme.
- The challenge is “it doesn’t concern us” attitude, indifference and the lack of interest.
Project schools that have already experience in work with immigrants and re-emigrants indicate that no unified administrative system has been established in the country for inclusion of such pupils, for organizing the teaching/learning process and support activities. The participation in the project has allowed summarizing the experience and encouraged sharing the good practice. However, challenges remain- how to make contact with the pupil if there is no intermediate language, how to coordinate the work among the school administration, class teacher, subject teachers in the organization of the study process, how to prepare the local pupils and their parents for the arrival of these new pupils, how to work with the arrivals’’ families.
Project participants on the colleagues’ attitude
- When organizing any event one should foresee that not always our ideas will be met with understanding and supporting attitude; one has to understand that very different and sometimes even intolerant opinions can be expressed.
- Leading classes for the colleagues was a huge challenge, especially in the situation when the general opinion of the society as regards the reception of refugees is not very positive.
- My challenge as the representative of administration was to develop positive attitude in the collective towards additional duties that arise working with immigrant pupils.
Participation in the project has made part of the teachers think about their personal readiness to work in multicultural classes. Pedagogical mastery, language skills and psychological readiness cause concern.
Project participants on their inner feelings and work with themselves
- I became fully aware that I have to devote more time to self-education on everyday basis in order to understand processes in the world and cultural differences.
- How to see the everyday life through their eyes?
- To accept and understand the religion of other people here in Latvia is especially difficult.
- How to preserve tolerance and not to force my opinion on others when leading seminars?
Regional seminars in the project “Diversity as a resource for education and community development”
Three regional seminars in the project “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” were organized in Riga, Tukums and Lielvarde in January 2016. The project participants shared their experience about the approbation of the program materials, acquired new content and methods for work in multicultural classes, and got acquainted with the experience of the Norwegian partners implementing the integration program “FLEXid” (Flexible identities). The special added value of the seminars were the guests invited by schools – people who have recently settled for life in Latvia. These people who had arrived from Syria, China, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Ireland, Great Britain and other countries told about the successes and challenges when establishing their everyday life, starting their education and joining the labor market.
Since the introductory seminar which took place in September the project schools have worked actively to approbate the program “Diversity as a resource for education and community development”. The materials have been used with students of all age groups in class-teachers’ lessons and subject lessons as well as in out-of-class activities. Teachers involved in the project have generously shared their knowledge with their colleagues in methodological subject groups, regional methodological associations, seminars organized for other teachers of the region, school administration and representatives of the local communities; they have organized thematic afternoons for parents as well as different other activities. The project participants consider that the greatest success in the approbation of the program is the unlimited possibilities of using the materials – they “work” both in the elementary and secondary school. Teachers also highly appreciate the topical content of the program and methods that allow them talking with the learners in a clearly understandable way, e.g., about the complicated migration and refugee issues. The program gives a possibility to educate children along with their parents as well as to appeal to a wider community – colleagues in other schools of the region, school principals, employees of the educational boards, representatives of local culture institutions and NGOs. The greatest challenge mentioned is the learners’ and parents’ fear of the unknown therefore sometimes aggressive views were expressed in the discussions. The approbation also revealed the attitude “it doesn’t concern us” and the stereotypes living in the society towards the different, the alien. Another challenge is that teachers are too busy and this results also in limited possibilities to pay attention to topics that are important but is not “the immediate teaching matter”. The seminar participants are united in the idea that school has a decisively crucial role in the development of a consolidated society. Here are some ideas expressed by the participants: there is no other organized system that can educate tolerance to the different in the society; the teacher teaches not only the subject- he/she always teaches values, too; respectful interaction in the class, discussions about events happening in the world enlarge the learners’ world outlook and develop their skills for life in a multicultural environment; paradoxically but often the school is the bridge between people who arrive in Latvia and the state administration.
A significant part of the seminars was devoted to the acquisition of new program materials. Project experts acquainted the participants with the topics “Languages in Latvia and in the world” and “Religions in Latvia and in the world”. The language as part of the ethnic identity and the religious identity are significant components in the self-identification of the personality. Sometimes they are the first features that are used to separate one’s own people and the unfamiliar (strange). Therefore when organizing interaction in multicultural classes the knowledge about languages and religions is very important. The participants of the seminar admit that these issues are especially sensitive in the work with students; they demand high pedagogical mastery and personal maturity.
The project participants had a possibility to learn more about the integration program “FLEXid” (Flexible identities) that has been developed and successfully implemented for several years by the Norwegian partners in the project. The aim of the program is to help immigrant youth to understand the thinking of different cultures and to provide support in situations when belonging to two or three cultures comes together in one person.
The insight into “FLEXid” served as a good beginning for the discussion with the guests of the seminar – people from the local communities who had recently settled for life in Latvia and had been invited by the school project teams. The experience stories of the immigrants and re-emigrants encouraged the participants to look at themselves, the society of Latvia, the state and education system with “a fresh look” – to see the situation through the eyes of the newly arrived people. The greatest challenges encountered by these people have been connected with the inability to speak the language – difficulties to fill in the documents, to find job. Sometimes they were hurt by the reserved, even intolerant attitude of the local people. However, the majority of guests consider their arrival in Latvia as their success story. Elly from Syria most highly appreciates the fact that it is safe to live in Latvia. Juan from China is happy about the openness and responsiveness of the local people. Lubova from Moscow is satisfied because of the possibility to work in the garden and grow ecologically pure products. Alexander from Kaliningrad praises the services of Latvia – first aid, police, municipality agencies- his communication with them has been only positive. Immigrants with school age children in their families are especially pleased with the diverse interest education possibilities in Latvia, the broad offer of the teaching/learning content as well as the teachers’ true interest in the wellbeing of the newcomers in the class. Olga from Kazakhstan: “I make a deep reverence to the school. The care with which we were accepted is beyond describing! My girl for the first half year was all the time in the field of teachers’ vision.” Different considerations have motivated re-emigrants to return to Latvia and often the decisive has been education. Zane from England returned because of her son’s education. Here he has a possibility to learn in Latvian, to feel the mentality, to learn the folklore, festivals and traditions. Henrijs comparing his son’s experience in the Swedish school especially appreciates the qualitative and diverse content of education in Latvia.
Another guest invited by the project team was Ilhom Khalimzoda from Tajikistan. He has lived in Latvia for several years; he is a doctoral student in intercultural communication and actively participates in the work of the non-governmental organization “Balturka”. Ilhom in his story successfully combined the insight into ideas expressed by researchers in the field of intercultural communication with hands-on tasks for identifying cultural differences and gave interesting examples from his personal experience that were related to surprises and even misunderstandings in the interaction with representatives of different cultures.
School teams at the end of the seminar received support resources in intercultural education including the book “Radot iespējas attīstībai: Diasporas bērnu un jauniešu izglītība” [Creating possibilities for the development: Education of the children and youth of the diaspora] and a disc with films shot by Juris Podnieks studio “7 stāsti par mums” [7 stories about us].
Thank you to all project participants and guests of the seminars for the active participation!
Approbation of the program “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” in schools and communities at the end of the year 2015
In October, November and December 2015, 15 school teams approbated and adapted the program “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” in their schools and communities working with the school administration, teachers, community representatives, students, young people and others.
The project team and program experts also participated in the approbation in order to receive the feedback about the implementation of the program and integration events in the project schools and communities in different regions of Latvia.
The program experts have visited all school teams and have discussed the run of the approbation, have received suggestions for further development of the program as well as have observed the work with the themes and materials of the program.
Please see the photo gallery here!
In Jaunogre Secondary school the social sciences teachers Aija Paškeviča and Rima Ivanova gave the open lesson for secondary students “Identity and diversity”. The positive feature is that the two teachers delivered the lesson in collaboration. Students actively participated in the lesson; teachers formed the learners’ awareness about broadening of the perspective from a national state to international society which is characterized by diversity. Students worked independently, expressed their opinion when presenting and gave their arguments. It was interesting to follow the use of three languages in the lesson- students excellently applied the Latvian, English and Russian languages. Teachers analysing the process mentioned that the community still preserved the concern how to accept the diversity and not to lose one’s own identity.
In Olaine Secondary school Nr. 2 the representatives of the project team observed the lessons given by teachers Inga Ivanova and Irina Siņicina in Grade 10 about the migration processes, the common and different. The lesson about the migration processes was based on the materials developed in the project; it was interactive and exciting for students. The teacher had added information in Russian and English. Group work activities and role plays in which students actively participated were used in the lesson. Students were especially interested in issues about the identities of their families and the history of personal migration. The teacher was good at the class dynamics, power relations, students’ arguments and disagreement. On the whole it gladdens that students are positively interested and active in the run of the lesson working with the program materials.
In Rīga Secondary school Nr. 15 the teacher Kaiva Meļņika had a lesson in Grade 7 “The diverse world and the diverse Latvia” and the teacher Diāna Vadakarija assisted in the lesson to students who had recently settled in Latvia and for who the Latvian language created difficulties. The discussion about the diversity emerged in the lesson. Students admitted: “People in the world have different opinions, they can change when meeting other people. We all together do common things although we are different. It is good to work together with others not being alone, also the work done then is more colourful”. The lesson was active, the teacher applied very different ways of learning– linguistic, visual, communicative, self-awareness, etc. Students who had recently arrived in Latvia joined the work well; the teacher assistant’s participation in the lesson allowed these students perform all the tasks and be equal members of the teaching/learning process instead of standing aside.
In Rīga Zolitūde gymnasium the authors of the program participated in the discussion about migration. Student teams debated on the topic “Migration is/is not benefit for the country”. The young people had prepared a wide range of argumentation, facts and evidences. The previous lessons on migration based on the program materials delivered in classes also turned out to be useful. Grade 8 and 10 students acted in the role of the audience and judges. The discussion was led by teachers A. Pjatecka and L. Romanova.
The project team of the school L. Juhņevska, I. Hitrova, L. Romanova, J. Martjanova, A. Pjatecka had prepared presentations, samples of students’ work, photos, analysis sheets of lessons and events for the talk with the project expert. They together discussed what had been already achieved in the project and what they had planned for the future. The principal of the gymnasium S. Semenko also participated in the discussion. It was mentioned several times in the discussion- teachers are aware of their responsibility in the situations when migrant children enter the class and start attending the school- “Often for these students we are “five in one” – the class teacher, mentor, friend, teacher, guide”. Therefore the participation in the project is very important for the school.
In Jelgava Primary school Nr. 4 teachers Vita Skrastiņa and Aija Kuķalka demonstrated open lessons in three grades: preschool, Grade 2 and 4 as well as they organized a methodological seminar for teachers that was devoted to International Day of Tolerance using the program materials.
The topic “The common and the different” was approbated in the English lesson in Grade 4. The lesson was exciting and interesting for students: the teacher used video, music, game elements and work sheets.
The teacher Dana Didžus being a representative of Roma community herself in the seminar “Diversity is our strength” acquainted others with her experience in the culturally sensitive work with Roma families. The school coordinator Aija Kuķalka told the visitors about the activities of the school for promoting diversity in the context of the project. The teacher Inita Āna demonstrated creativity presenting the strategy “The Eye-lash” that visually and emotionally reveals the paradoxical in life – in the scope of an individual and larger community as well as the global processes.
The team of Špoģi Secondary school organized a seminar “Me. Others. We” for social sciences teachers, museum specialists, librarians, NGO representatives, organizers of cultural events, parents and others in Daugavpils region. The seminar sessions were led by the school project team A. Dombrovska, Ā. Mihailova, J. Briška and A. Zeile.
The seminar looked upon the following topics– Values characteristic to the society of Latvia in the past and today; Latvia in the global world; Migration processes in the modern world; Diversity in Latvia and the world; The use of diversity as a resource. The seminar participants were offered the insight into the series of short films produced by J. Podnieks studio “7 stories about us” as well as time was allotted to the exchange of professional experience and discussions. The organizer of the cultural work in the region admitted Santa Matisāne: “It is good that we are able to talk about the challenges and possibilities of a multicultural society professionally and with lightness as well as think together about the solutions to the problems”. Teachers were especially thankful about the received study materials and methods and expressed the desire to meet again in such professional development events.
During the visit there were also discussions with the school administration and school project team about the approbation of the program, challenges, possibilities and future plans.
In Tukums Secondary school Nr. 2 the lesson was demonstrated in Grade 10. The following materials were approbated in the lesson– the diversity circle, causes of the migration, factors that attract and push off the migration processes, confrontation of Western and Eastern culture, the film “7 stories about us”. Three teachers delivered the lesson together giving tasks and following the students’ work. The lesson started with an activity during which students talked about what united and separated them. Students were acquainted with the work sheet “The diversity circle” so that following the given descriptors of the diversity they broadened their view on the expressions of diversity. Later in the lesson students got acquainted with a fragment from A. Notomba’s book “Fear and shiver” and discussed the differences between the Western and eastern cultures. At this moment the teacher Jeļena Isajeva joined the lesson and told examples from her own experience about the cultural differences she had experienced living in japan. In the second part of the lessons students in groups evaluated factors– conditions that tempt people to settle for life in another country. The lesson ended with the demonstration of a fragment from the film “7 stories about us”.
The school project team Sanita Birzniece, Egita Antone, Natālija Kroshina, Gunita Rosicka and the teacher Jeļena Isajeva discussed the approbation of the program.
Roja Secondary school had organized a meeting and discussions with the school project team during which the program approbation was discussed in detail. Teachers admit that program materials are useful and promote the multi-cultural society. Students’ attitude to the topics of the program that are connected with diversity, identity, migration prevailingly is positive and full of interest. However, their opinions and attitude has been influenced by terror acts in Paris on November 13. Students have expressed their concern about further development of events in the lessons. Teachers admit that in such a situation it is very useful to work with the content issues of the program but also quite complicated at the same time.
Roja Secondary school has accumulated valuable experience in the work with migrant children. Teachers emphasize- the acquisition of the Latvian language is decisively important for successful integration. This helps to them fit better in the new collective and be successful in learning. Also such informal educational events as students’ excursions, theatre performances and concerts are of great importance. All this is successfully practised by the whole school.
Pededze basic school demonstrated a class teacher’s lesson for Grade 8-9 students. The teachers started the lesson with questions that showed the diversity in the class; students evaluated the common and the different in their interests, living places, habits and class-life. The drawing activity with crayons encouraged students to reflect on the diversity. Students with interest participated in activities about migration, evaluated concrete examples and how people felt in the migration processes. The lesson went fluently; cooperative and positive attitude both among students and students and teachers reigned in the class.
Teachers assess positively the ideas gained in the seminar and point out that materials are applied in the practical class work as well as teachers from other schools are acquainted with them. Teachers stress that the project is topical and helps to explain themes that are interesting for the society.
In Dobele Secondary school the school project team under the guidance of the school principal Ģ. Zabašta had organized a rich insight into the run of the approbation. Teachers I. Podiņa, Ļ. Ameļčenko, L. Lozberga, S. Savenko and the community representative, head of the School Board E. Evardsone shared their reflections on the challenges that teachers and the society at large face due to the impact of global processes. The participants of the meeting were united in the idea that despite the conflicting attitude to the diversity that is around us the school has to be ready to give education to every child. The member of the project team the teacher Svetlana Savenko delivered the open lesson in Grade 5 on a highly professional level. Students learned about such complicated issues as war and migration processes caused by it, possibilities to help the refugees, integration of migrants in the class in a way corresponding their age group peculiarities. Students enthusiastically discussed which words in the Latvian language should be taught first, which Latvian food and songs they should be acquainted with. Students expressed interesting and well-considered suggestions. For example, the new classmates should be taught such words as good-day, thank you, please, here you are at first: “These are much needed words and they have few lengthening marks because their languages may not have such marks and cases”. During the lesson students demonstrated excellent knowledge, the skills to cooperate and present in public. The lesson was observed also by the school educationalist A. Reinšmite and the class teacher of Grade 5 I. Miķelsone who also participated in the analysis of the lesson.
Ventspils Secondary school Nr. 6 offered a thematic lesson for teachers “How to prepare for accepting new ingoing learners at school and class”. In the introduction the principal of the school and coordinator of the school project team V. Jankovska acquainted the participants with the existing legal regulations concerning the acceptance of students who have arrived from abroad. Teachers continued working in groups and developed suggestions for the action of class teachers, subject teachers and school administration in situations when they had to teach a migrant student. The group presentations contained suggestions about increasing the number of the Latvian language lessons, training of the support staff, cooperation with social service, development of special study materials, information leaflets and pictograms, updating of the teachers’ current intercultural experience, etc. The school is ready to use also the already available resources– the family of the Grade 8 students who knows Arabic is ready to give assistance. The teacher I. Dejus: “Internal culture of our school is open to accepting diversity. This has been defined by the history of our school. Initially this has been the Russian language instruction school. Gradually there were opened Latvian classes and now it is a bi-lingual school. Thus the different (in the language, traditions, etc.) lives side by side in everyday life and we have learnt to perceive and use it as our unique added value”.
The project team of Liepāja Secondary school Nr. 7 during the approbation organized the experience exchange event for the teachers of other schools in Liepāja and offered them a possibility to participate in open lessons about the diversity. Open lessons were given by teachers Alīna Aldaga, Gunita Lūse, Jeļena Judina, Natālija Gutova and Olga Ņefjodočkina. The teachers emphasize that a schools has a significant role in the formation of a tolerant attitude to the asylum seekers, that open discussions with learners are needed and the themes of the lessons should include issues about refugees and other topicalities.
The school principal Inese Ferstere stressed the topicality of the project in the current situation when schools more and more have to accept students who return to Latvia from other countries and points out that younger children integrate much easier; there are problems in situations when students arrive from countries in which there is a different understanding of education, of woman’s role in the society and students have difficulties with the language of communication. The experience gained in the project is successfully applied in school and the school serves as a support centre in the themes of diversity to other schools.
Aglona Secondary school organized open lessons in the topic “Diversity” and Grade 11 and 6 students presented their research projects about the diversity of the different. The most vivid was the project done by Grade 3 students “Man” that students had carried out in October and November. It reflects both the diversity of people and the emotional life. The project was also presented to parents and received praise. The thematic research project “The study of diversity” is well- fit for different audiences and gives students joy, motivates them for learning and acquire several dimensions and forms of the diversity.
The lesson on the diversity delivered by the teacher Rita Karpova gave a possibility to see students actively participating in interactive work, interesting discussions about the diversity in nature and people. The run of the lesson caused students’ interest and their active participation.
Daugavpils city Children and youth’s centre “Jaunība” during the approbation of the program organized the event for vice-principals of Daugavpils schools responsible for educational work and acquainted them with the project “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” as well as explained the integration possibilities of immigrant and re-migrant students in the educational institutions in the context of the existing regulating legislation. The participants had questions which were answered by both the project coordinator in the centre “Jaunība” Santa Upīte and the project expert Liesma Ose. The discussion touched upon the questions about the culture differences of the migrants, the availability of the funding, people who would work with them according to the individual plans. The meeting was organized as the community involvement event and hopefully its participants will apply the experience in their professional work.
Babīte Secondary school organized several class teacher’s lessons in which teachers used the project materials about identity, diversity and migration as well as organized the methodological day in order to acquaint other teachers with what had been gained in the program acquisition seminars and how to teach about hot topics and diversity. Dž. Tērauda admits that program materials are useful and can be well applied at school.
The school has big support staff that in the work faces different problem situations emerging when integrating students who have arrived in Latvia from other countries in the society. Teachers and the support staff are acquainted with the Norwegian practice and experience in integrating immigrant children at school.
INTERCULTURAL EDUCATION PROGRAM „DIVERSITY AS A RESOURCE FOR EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT”
The program and material developing experts in the project „Diversity as a resource for education and community development” implemented by Education Development Centre (EDC) in cooperation with the partner organizations Latvian Community Initiative foundation (LCIF) and the National Centre for Multicultural Education (NAFO) from Norway during the time period from April to September, 2015 have developed the intercultural education program which includes issues on how to manage diversity in schools and local communities. The program acquisition seminar took place in Sigulda from September 24-26. The participants of the seminar were the teams from 15 schools of Latvia and local community representatives. The project program and material experts Ingūna Irbīte, Daina Zelmene (EDC), Liesma Ose (LCIF) and Anita Lødrup (NAFO) as well as the project team and the invited specialists of the field worked with the school teams in the acquisition seminar.
During the seminar the content of the program was based on the following topics: The today of integration in Latvia; Identity and diversity; Management of diversity; We manage diversity and diversity manages us; The community dimension; Migration; resources for work; Experience stories; Norwegian experience in the field of integration; Discussions with immigrants; Pedagogical approaches to process management, etc. The project participants at the end of the seminar planned together how to approbate the program and give feedback to the project team about the necessary adjustments and improvements in the program corresponding to the Latvian context.
The Norwegian expert A. Lødrup asked the seminar participants a question „Why migration and do we need it?” encouraging everyone to think that migration is not the threat to the wellbeing of the Western countries but an economic challenge that is often forgotten. In Norway the Law on Education defines rights to education to all minority children. They consider that it is not unfair to provide additional assistance and to turn to these pupils/students – this is a step to allow them to become good citizens who are able to give positive contribution to the society. „The aim of the Norwegian government is to achieve that as many as possible minority language children attend kindergartens: the most important place of inclusion and language acquisition because teaching the Norwegian language from early age it can be done faster and with less expenses of resources. It is important to involve parents/care givers in the education of their children. Invite them to the parent meetings- in order to help them better understand our education systems. Explain how they can help their children, what we expect from them and what they expect from their children, and meet with other adults, integrate them, A. Lødrup urges.
During the acquisition seminar the project implementation team summarized the suggestions expressed by the teachers involved in the project: What support do the education institutions expect from the state to organize more successfully the work with immigrant children and their families? Teachers’ suggestions are summarized and can be found in the home page of the project and are published in the national newspaper “Izglītība un Kultūra” [Education and Culture] on October 8, 2015.
In October 2015, the 15 school teams will start the approbation and adjustment of the program „Diversity as a resource for education and community development” in their schools and communities, working together with the school administration, teachers, community representatives, pupils, young people and others in order to implement the acquired program in their schools and local communities.
The project team and experts will actively participate in the approbation to give support and receive feedback on the practical implementation of the integration events in 15 schools and communities in different regions of Latvia.
SCHOOL COMPETITION FOR THE PARTICIPATION IN THE PROJECT „DIVERSITY AS A RESOURCE FOR EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT”
In April 2015 work was started to gather information about 15 schools that will commit themselves to active participation in the project till April 2016. The information about this possibility was placed in the project home page and the press inviting general comprehensive schools of Latvia that find the issues about the intercultural dialogue and society integration topical to apply for the participation. For instance, schools that work with the immigrants’ and re-emigrants’ children and their parents, educational institutions with multi lingual and multicultural environment. Schools sent in the application questionnaires.
The school competition for the participation in the project “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” announced by the Education Development centre (EDC) in partnership with Latvian Community Initiative foundation finished at the beginning of May and the project team is satisfied about the great interest expressed by the educational institutions of Latvia to update the intercultural dialogue and society integration issues with the help of the project in their school and wider communities.
According to the defined criteria the following 15 educational institutions are approved for the participation in the project:
- Roja Secondary school
- Ventspils Secondary school Nr. 6
- Liepāja Secondary school Nr. 7
- Dobele Secondary school Nr. 1
- Jelgava Primary school Nr. 4
- Tukums Secondary school Nr. 2
- Špoģi Secondary school
- Pededze Basic school
- Daugavpils City Children and youths’ centre „Jaunība”
- Aglona Secondary school
- Olaine Secondary school Nr. 2
- Rīga Zolitūde gymnasium
- Rīga Secondary school Nr. 15
- Babīte Secondary school
- Jaunogre Secondary school
Essential information about the project
The project “Diversity as a resource for education and community development” (Nr.2013.EEZ/PP/2/MAC/011/059) is implemented in the framework of the subprogram “Project programs of non-governmental organizations” of the EEZ financial instrument program “NGO fund”.
Aim of the project: To promote the formation of a single, democratic wellbeing society in Latvia on the basis of the intercultural dialogue, the integration of the diverse groups of the society, educational activities and active participation in the life of the society.
Target group: Representatives of the minorities and core nation, non-citizens, NGO, local community
Place of project implementation: All Latvia and Norway
Duration of the Project: March 1, 2015 – April 30, 2016
Key project activities:
- Work of the project team and the cooperation of the partner organizations
- Exploration of the foreign – Norwegian experience/practice
- Development and implementation of the program “Diversity as a resource for education and community development”
- Development of the methodological teaching/learning materials on integration
- Publicity and sustainability events
- Explored experience of the Norwegian partner NAFO in ensuring qualitative education in a multicultural society and strengthening of the community
- Developed, piloted, published program and methodological materials “Diversity as a resource for education and community development”
- 15 schools of Latvia have become the community centres for intercultural, integration and civic participation activities
- Implemented publicity and sustainability events
Total cost of the project: 111 110,09 EUR. Co- financing granted by EEZ financial mechanism : 99 999,08 EUR
Project implementer: association „Education Development centre” (EDC)
In Latvia: Latvijas Kopienu iniciatīvu centrs (LKIF)/ Latvian Community Initiative centre/ http://www.iniciativa.lv/
In Norway: The National Centre for Multicultural Education (NAFO) http://nafo.hioa.no/om-nafo/about-nafo/