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The aim of this initiative is to unlock the long process of social change

 

Project title: Desegregation by making a Roma school truly attractive

The challenges

Numerous efforts have been undertaken for desegregation of Roma schools. Desegregation is a policy and political priority. Still, it is far from achieved.

The method

The project will revert the traditional approach to desegregation. Instead of bussing Roma kids to non-Roma schools (where they often end up in segregated classes in formally integrated schools), we will make the present Roma school an attractive place to learn – for Roma and non-Roma alike. We will achieve with three-track approach:

  1. improving the standard of the educational facilities – we assume that refurbishing a school is definitely at least as worthy as refurbishing a panel bloc of flats;
  2. investing in the teaching staff to boost their pedagogical skills and motivation – motivated and thoughtful teacher is even more important than the quality of the facilities.
  3. Tweaking the curriculum to provide practical skills and vocation that the students will start practicing already during their studies – thus answering the “killing” question “why bother about school?”

On (a) the project will build on the experience of the existing refurbishment projects. On (b) it will use the experience of the former secondary vocational technical schools complementing it with up-to-date content corresponding to the requirements of a socially oriented market economy and responding to the challenges of sustainable development. On (c) it will use the experience of various community activation and empowerment endeavours. None of the areas is novel (experience exists). The novelty comes from matching the three – and reverting the logic of desegregation.

The focus on sustainable development and circular economy will be an important aspect of the project. We envisage a small ecological park as part of the school facilities. On the one hand, it will provide resources for its functioning by providing goods and services to the local population. On the other hand, it will be a practical ground for the children to gain knowledge and experience in the principles of sustainable development.

The project’s assumptions

The project builds on four key assumptions. First, secondary education should have practical – and not academic – orientation. Second, the education process should quality of infrastructure matters. One cannot expect high educational motivation in shattered classrooms with outdated equipment.Third, participation is critical for ownership. The people from the community have a stake and should be involved in all stages. Fourth, the community and the family play a key role in shaping the attitudes of the younger generation – and vice versa, the young people should be agents of change. This is why we will work closely with the community and the families to support the children in their educational efforts and encourage them to achieve more.

Target groups

The main target group of the project are children from marginalized communities with completedISCED1and ISCED2 who attendia segregated school in a Roma neighbourhood in one of the cities with a large Roma community (Lom, Stara Zagora, Pazardzhik). Considering the importance of transition to the lower secondary education (after grade 4), the project will target also children after fourth grade to facilitate this transition. This will be done through various supporting activities, including summer schools with intensive “catching up” training in Bulgarian language, mathematics andother subjects.

Activities

The project will combine soft and hard measures. We envisage the following activities:

Hard measures:

  • Construction works (refurbishment of educational facilities)
  • Erection of ecological park (renewable energy facility, recycling unit, eco-pellets production etc.)

Soft measures:

  • Updating and adjusting the educational curriculum to the needs of gaining practical skills
  • Development of practical skills oriented training modules
  • Develop teachers’ capacities and motivation to work with children from marginalized communities
  • Work with families and engaging the parents in the process
  • Conducting catching up summer schoolsand other incentivizing activities

Expected results

  • One segregated and dilapidated school refurbished and turned into attractive educational establishment
  • Motivation of Roma children boosted
  • Improved transition to secondary education after grade 4 and from lower secondary to higher secondary level
  • Improved completion rates of upper secondary level
  • Educational results improved (monitored against quantitative targets and indicators)
  • A model of practical desegregation tested and conceptualized

Project duration

Stage 1 (refurbishment): 1 year (2 with ecological park)

Stage 2 (soft components): 3 years.