PROJECT RESULTS – FIRST YEAR
1. Young people’s voices and perspectives
Exporting good practice from one country to other countries needs to be based on needs of young people of each respective country. Even with the globalisation trends and similarities of lives of young people in EU countries, the specific local context in which young people live still shape their lives, views and perspectives differently depending on the country’s and/or regional cultural, political and socio-economic contexts. Having in mind that and this project’s aims – prevention of radicalisation and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms among young people, the starting position of START project was to identify young people’s perspectives on challenges and issues they cope with and their own views on possible solutions as social actors who can have a voice and contribute to solution of identified challenges.
The new childhood sociology advocates for child-oriented research using qualitative methodology, which means researching young people’s perspectives rather than having adults identifying young people’s problems from their own perspective. Thus, partner organizations implemented research with young people through focus groups and workshops in schools. Altogether, 40 focus groups with 311 students of primary and secondary schools participated. The research experts wrote national country reports with the results of the research and the comparative report “Start the Change – young people´s voices on their interests, needs, problems and solutions to contemporary challenges” was created. The report encompassed and compared insights and findings in all four countries, identifying similarities and differences, and developed recommendations for teachers, schools and policy makers.
2. Adaptation of existing good practices
The research results suggested that today´s teachers and other educators in the countries involved in the research study are facing the great challenges while working with students belonging to different ethnic, religious or linguistic groups. They are required to have competences much broader than their initial teacher training education could have provided them. After analysing the research results the expert teams adapted the curriculum and program content to be in line with the student and teachers’ needs expressed during the focus groups interviews and collected in comparative research report.
The main adaptation introduced and/or deepened topics and methods that can help teachers to better support young people in coping with issues of low self-esteem, conflict, exclusion, discrimination, stereotyping and prejudices, also on how to open safe space to talk and share views on these issues as well as about diversity and identities. Important new topics were added, as for example media literacy in order to empower teachers on how to support young people to better understand the role of media in the contemporary society.
Regarding the publications project team made decision to adapt and to some degree add new content to both publications in order to follow the newly adapted START education program and developed learning outcomes and to have publications that can come as a tool kit for project participants to use it in their direct work with young people in local communities and also to produce publications that can support teachers & educators outside of this project in working with young people on contemporary social challenges.
Summary of each publication:
Publication 1: Start the Change! – Young people in the world of diversity: handbook for school offers the summery of the project START, key research findings, theoretical framework and key topics that can help in building young people’s resilience and empowering them in various ways: allowing them to find their identity, voices and talents, valuing their needs and goals, raise and practice empathy and civic engagement as well as broader understanding of the complex world and community they live in. Publication also offers practical steps in starting the local level youth projects as well as examples of good practices in work with young people.
Publication 2: Start the Change! – 40 working ideas with children and young people in the areas of diversity offers 40 workshops for direct work with groups of young people (different age level – from primary to secondary schools) and it is divided in three key areas: personal and social development, civic education and volunteer projects. Each workshop begins with a description, followed by some useful tips for its implementation and a worksheet for the students. There are also ideas for additional activities, suggestions of additional sources, or quotes as an incentive for discussions.
Links to both publications in all 3 languages please find in the Library and https://startthechange.net/two-publications-for-teachers-published/
3. Upscaling of good practice
Upscaling of the good practices took place on two levels, firstly by transferring the good practices already developed by the coordinator (START Training for Trainers). Secondly, each partner organization organized training for teachers and other educators in their own country/region.
START TRAINING FOR TRAINERS took place for 5 days in Zagreb, Croatia and gathered 21 expert trainers from all four partner organizations. The transfer and exchange of experience and knowledge among expert trainers helped in utilising the capacity of all four organizations as each of them has its own unique focus in working with young people. This has made excellent synergy between partner organisation’s experience in different fields.
As the result, Training Manual was developed and served as the program structure. The Manual contains the theoretical framework, program, learning outcomes, training sessions’ descriptions and power point presentations for each session. These sessions and presentations were set to serve as a guide for achieving the training’s learning outcomes. Each partner organization had freedom to adapt methodologies and perspectives of different sessions in order to suit the needs of the schools in their regions and training skills they had to offer.
START EDUCATION PROGRAM – each partner organized training with teachers and youth workers training in their own countries. The trainings varied to some degree in their content and duration due to the needs of participants and specific contexts of each country. Important characteristics of this training was that it combined formal and informal educational methodology. Firstly, providing teachers and other educators with young people’s perspectives expressed through focus groups interviews and then giving them space to describe issues and contexts of their own work with young people. Expressing their voice and hearing each other’s experiences created learning environment and relationships among participants which helped trainers to guide them through this learning experience showing how to best work on identified issues and topics: introducing the controversial topics in classrooms, creating safe place to talk about discrimination, exclusion, prejudices and stereotypes, media manipulation, but also on how they can promote among their students celebration of diversity, acceptance of differences, building their own capacities, setting their personal goals, transforming conflicts and how to be active in promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms as well as democratic culture through their own local level projects.