"Lately we have seen a rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric and violence all over Europe. My hope is that discussions you'll have and this training programme prepares you better for school life where diversity, respect and equality stand out as core values", Norway’s ambassador to Slovakia Ms Magistad said at the opening of the academy.
Participants were not afraid to raise their concerns about a changing Europe. At the same time they were open to new knowledge as when Zuzana Bargerova, law expert at the Centre for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture, presented the situation of refugees and migrants in Slovakia.
Very few refugees are granted asylum in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, so integrating them in the classroom is not the major challenge facing teachers. Other social, religious and ethnic minorities do exist, however, and the issue of children from Roma communities is particularly challenging. Several schools participating at the academy had pupils from Roma communities, some schools had almost only children from Roma communities. Educators at these schools used the academy to present the situation they face in their work, revealing a more diverse reality than commonly believed by the other participants.
On the last day of the academy, the schools presented their school project plans, with several addressing diversity. Elementary school in Liptovský Mikuláš (SR) plans a cross-curriculum survey with pupils collecting data about ethnicities and minorities living in Slovakia. Pupils will will try to document diversity in Slovakia through photos and visualize it on the map of minorities. All projects together with the map will be used for an exhibition called Slovakia, Country for All. Some schools which do not face the challenges of inclusion directly decided to focus on the development of democratic environment. Elementary school Tbiliská in Bratislava (SR) plans to collaborate with parents to raise awareness among pupils to different job opportunities and motivations. “Children should understand that behind every job there is a personal story”, a participant said.
The Slovak and Czech Regional Academy is supported through the bilateral fund at national level within the Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway grants. You can read more about the academy here or in this downloadable leaflet: