«We have already had a busy start to 2019” says EWC Executive Director Ana Perona-Fjeldstad. “Last year, we celebrated EWC’s 10 years of educating for democracy and human rights. This year, we will look forward and introduce several new initiatives and projects.”
EWC will return to Western Balkan to initiate a new project aimed at pre-service teacher training in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYROM, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo*. “Working with partner institutions in these countries, we will develop new training modules and approaches and establish regional networks.”
“Another major programme is starting in Greece”, Perona-Fjeldstad says. “In cooperation with the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, we will run a 3-year programme on integration of refugee children in Greek schools. Each school year, more than 10 000 refugee children start in Greek schools, and the aim of the programme is to contribute to a safe, inclusive and democratic learning environment for all.”
EWC’s main aim is to strengthen the capacity of individuals, educational institutions and systems to build and sustain a culture of democracy and human rights. “We do this in a number of ways”, says Perona-Fjeldstad. “By providing long-term systemic programmes in education for democratic citizenship and human rights, by cooperation with national education authorities in a number of countries, by strong support for local, national and regional capacity building and training.”
EWC’s long running programme in Ukraine is an example of all this. The programme will continue with a broad range of activities in 2019. Other programmes that will continue this year is “Practicing Citizenship” for educators in the Russian Federation, and the Baltic Academy in cooperation with the education authorities in the Baltic countries.
EWC will increasingly focus on training of multipliers through training-of-trainers, training of young people as peer educators and training of school leaders and teachers. Perona-Fjeldstad emphasizes that training of multipliers is essential both to develop democratic competences of individuals and capacity building of institutions to promote democracy and human rights through education.
EWC is recognized by the EEA/Norway Grants donors (Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein) as a qualified partner in education for democratic citizenship and human rights. “We are very proud of this”, says Perona-Fjeldstad. “Over the next couple of years we will introduce several projects in up to 7 countries under the EEA/Norway Grants programme cycle 2014-2021, starting already this year with the programme in Greece and another important programme in Slovakia on inclusive schools and particularly the issue of Roma inclusion.”
In Norway, EWC’s programme “22 July and Democratic Citizenship” expands into a national programme supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Education. This means a doubling of activities at the commemoration – and learning centre at Utøya so that pupils and teachers from all over Norway can take part in “Learning Democracy at Utøya”.
There is also a lot more to come. “EWC is always committed to our partnership with the Council of Europe. The new campaign FREE to SPEAK – SAFE to LEARN has a huge potential, and the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture is a reference point in most of our programmes.”, says Perona-Fjeldstad.
2019 will see a balanced mix of established and new programme activities, which means that EWC will work with established and new partners. “We are very grateful to be able to work with great people and organizations throughout Europe,“ Perona-Fjeldstad concludes. “While there certainly are huge challenges and threats to democratic values and practices many places, there are also so many examples of good practices and great initiatives, especially in schools and local communities. With our partners and experts, we aim to recognize all the great work being done and create new and positive changes in education and society.”
(*) All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.