Better understanding the differences
This project aims to influence and participate with the government and other stakeholders in the development, adoption and promotion of systems of learning that are inclusive, turned towards the learning itself and sensitive to native topics and marginalized groups, and that the model as such respects peaceful coexistence for all. Also, another goal is to strengthen the cooperation with school institutions in the region and improve cooperation and the exchange of experiences with partner organizations in the form of joint implementation of projects in high schools in the region. The purpose of the project is to increase students’ knowledge of intercultural relations, tolerance and gender equality and their sensitization and respect towards diversity.
The project was realized in Niš, Aleksinac, Sokobanja and Boljevac. The target group is youth, 15-19 years of age from ten high schools.
The main activities of this project are: training for teachers, workshops at schools, one-day promotional actions, a campaign and an evaluative meeting. Topics of training are in the fields of intercultural relations, tolerance and gender equality.
Over 4500 students from these schools, their parents, peers and all other citizens who will follow the media campaign are included in the activities of the project. The course of the implementation of the project will create conditions for the inter-regional networking of youth and school institutions to work to continue cooperating on joint actions. The implementation of the project solves the problem of insufficient awareness of the population, particularly of the youth, on these topics.
Education for teachers from high schools, two teachers from every school, through a seminar about intercultural relations, tolerance and gender equality which will be held in Niš on the premises of the Association, at Učitelj Tase Square. The seminar lasts for 4 days, i.e. two weekends.
Workshops in schools will be realized after the seminar, by the teachers working in pairs (or individually) with one group of at least 20 pupils from their school. There will be 16 workshops in total on the same or similar topics that were covered in the seminar. During a couple of final workshops, every school asserts a plan for one-day promotional action which is being realized by the pupils together with their workshop leaders and it is dedicated to other pupils and teachers as well as parents and all the other citizens in a community.
Promotional one-day action will be organized by the pupils themselves after the completion of all the workshops with the help of their teachers. Every school will, depending on their needs, abilities and interests, develop their own promotional action. Pupils can choose their own method for promotion; for example, it may be a performance, an exhibition of drawings or photographs, a quiz, a music event, a recreational activity, or some other type of activity chosen by the pupils.
Campaign will be implemented by distributing materials at the school during the time of the promotional action, and in which the pupils who were included in the workshops and the action planning will participate. Material for the campaign is provided by the Association as the implementer of the project.
Evaluative meeting is at the end of the project, with 55 participants, in which results will be summarized and experiences exchanged. The evaluation of the meeting will be conducted on the project and school level, and teachers who were included in the project would participate, two pupils who were the most active during the workshops and one representative of the school. (Principal or Psycho-pedagogic service).
The expected results of this project are: the increased knowledge of teachers and students on gender equality and its importance for the development of a democratic society. As a result, the improvement of educational institutions’ work and the modernization of school programs are also expected. Also expected is the increased knowledge of intercultural living, of the importance of respect for diversity, of the needs of marginalized groups, which will create conditions for the greater inclusion of marginalized young people in the school system because it will promote the peaceful coexistence of all, respect for diversity, tolerance and understanding.
Within the project “Better Understanding the Differences,” held on the 26th and 27th of May and the 2nd and 3rd of June 2007, a training for 20 teachers from ten schools was realized in which topics in the fields of intercultural relations, tolerance and gender equality were covered. Trainings lasted from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and were held on our organization’s premises.
Before the school year began, a meeting was held for teachers/workshop leaders directors of schools that were included in the project on August 31 on the Association’s premises. At the meeting, the results of the evaluation of the training were presented, the beginning and the way of working in schools is determined as well as the way of reporting, experiences and impressions of teachers are exchanged, etc. The meeting was monitored all the time by the donor.
Since mid-September, workshops began to be realized with students from all ten schools involved in the project. In the following four months, students will have the opportunity to become familiar with intercultural learning and to acquire knowledge about tolerance and gender equality. For these reasons, students have shown great interest in the workshop as new forms of learning in school.
Workshops are realized by teachers in pairs who finished the training in May and June.
ACTION “OUR COLORFUL WORLD”
For Valentine’s Day, February 14, pupils from the Technical School in Aleksinac who participated in the project organized an action in the square of the city center dedicated to the beauty of diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, social status, culture, etc. The action brought together elementary school pupils, high school pupils, beneficiaries of the Home for Children without Parental Care, Roma children, citizens…
To the sound of happy children’s songs, participants were able to leave messages or traces of their hands on Styrofoam, paper hearts with nice messages written on them were shared, hearts were drawn on the arms and cheeks of participants, and all the participants danced. The organizers of the action prepared fliers, balloons and t-shirts for the participants, as well as several interesting games for their peers from The School of Food and Chemistry in Niš who were especially welcomed. This type of promotion of the beauty of diversity on Valentine’s Day gathered a large number of passers-by who shared the good mood and smiles with the organizers of the action. Of course, on Valentine’s Day, there were also hugs…
During and immediately after the action citizens were also shared promotional materials where they could read brief information about intercultural relations, tolerance and gender equality.
ACTION – PERFORMANCE “I OFFER YOU MY HAND”
Students from Gymnasium “Svetozar Marković” presented their vision of intercultural relations and tolerance on February 19 in the form of a performance “I Offer You My Hand,” which was held at the Puppet Theater in Niš before an audience of more than a hundred spectators.
Students showed the other students and parents, teachers and citizens who were present prejudices towards different social, marginalized groups in the community through dialogues between representatives of these groups and the main character, who finally understands the complete absurd of prejudice. By symbolic “offering a hand” to every member of the marginalized groups, differences are accepted and justification for their position is found with the desire to help in the realization of their rights and promote the values of tolerance and intercultural relations.
At the end of the performance the visitors shared promotional materials, fliers, balloons and badges. The performance was performed a second time on 7th of March at the Boarding School for High School Students in Niš and was again well-received by the audience who was also informed of the message at the end of the performance of the symbolic “offering a hand,” which means more tolerance and intercultural relations between the youth.
ACTION “DISCRIMINATION? – DELETE!”
On 5th of March, an action, dedicated to the “deletion” of discrimination in all fields, but especially racial, social and gender discrimination which is typical for the social environment of the youth, was held in Niš. The action was being prepared for a long time using the all school resources and support of other teachers who helped in choosing the best essays. Caricatures, art works and comics under the title discrimination.
The exhibition of works was organized within the project as well as three short reviews about gender discrimination which are usually met in everyday life, the movie about the children grown up in the street; the winner’s hip-hop show of a dance studio and finally a karaoke competition between the men and women teams was organized. The program ended with the dancing of couples and a grand applause. Several hundreds of pupils, teachers, parents and guests watched this wealthy program. Promotional material was shared among the all present guests and at the end of the program they made an evaluation by filling the short questionnaires which were given to the pupils and visitors of the program.
The program was accompanied by the three media centers from Niš and at the same night and the following day, short reviews about the action were emitted on the TV.
ACTION “WE ARE ALL THE SAME, BUT DNA IS NOT”
Pupils of the Agricultural School in Aleksinac, participants of the project, organized a campaign on 6th of March under the title “We Are All the Same, but DNA Is Not” that was held in the lobby of the school.
Within this one-day action, other students from the school and their teachers had the opportunity to see an exhibition of photographs on the theme of diversity, with special emphasis on photographs of various religious objects, costumes, types of houses, clothes, food, etc. In the photographs, Catholic churches, Orthodox churches and mosques, residential buildings from Lithuania, Greece and Switzerland, folk costumes from different countries, customs, etc. could be seen. The photographs were gathered by participants of the workshops during their travels through school or individually, from their relatives, friends, etc. Playing the music from different countries and images on a video projector, the participants were able to express their impressions on the boards in the lobby.
Within the action, participants of the workshops received diplomas, and promotional material with a short explanation on tolerance, gender equality and intercultural relations were distributed to all students from the school.
ACTION “WORLD IN A THOUSAND COLORS”
In the city center, in the square in front of the shopping center “Kalča” in Niš, students from Gymnasium “Stevan Sremac” organized an action on 10th of March dedicated to promoting tolerance and gender equality under the title “World in a Thousand Colors.” Together with their teachers, playing music and distributing promotional materials, students invited citizens to join the action by writing messages with their views on these topics on stickers and boards, and in turn gave them badges with short messages, balloons and fliers.
During the three hours of the action, groups of high school students joined over more than 500 citizens and left their stickers on boards, with great interest in the action itself. A board with messages about tolerance was especially interesting to them. Promotional materials were received by a large number of passers-by, from the youngest to the oldest inhabitants of the city.
The action inspired citizens to think about these issues, to exchange views with pupil-promoters and to express their satisfaction that the young are dealing with this issue. From the comments of the pupils and the manner in which they approached citizens, they showed that they have a good understanding of issues related to tolerance and gender equality.
ACTION “WOMEN IN A THOUSAND WAYS”
Schoolgirls from the Art School in Niš organized the action “Women in Thousand Ways” on 12th of March in front of their exhibition pavilion in the Fortress. The action was dedicated to promoting gender equality and women’s rights, and promotional material, balloons and drawings were distributed to the many citizens who joined in the action.
In the first part of the action, with music and sunny weather, participants drew images of women: mothers, young girls, older girls, older women, business women, etc. A number of papers were handed out to passers-by, and the remaining drawings were exhibited in a glass case in the pavilion so that they would be seen by other visitors throughout the following days.
The set exhibition of works presented women in a number of ways, from different angles, with the rich diversity of the characters on paper. At the end, the participants wished to complete the action with a group picture in front of the exhibition pavilion.
ACTION “BE TOLERANT – RESPECT THE DIFFERENCES”
Students from the High School “Branislav Nušić” from Sokobanja organized the performance “Be Tolerant – Respect the Differences” on 13th of March on school premises. The performance was dedicated to the promotion of tolerance and gender equality, which pupils presented through the content of the performance. At first glance, a family shown was a completely normal one, in which the wife and mother was expected to be responsible for the “female duties,” but she manages to deal with these prejudices.
The intercultural component was also included in the performance itself, as a foreign student from America arrives in the family, so that a part of the play was performed in English. Intolerance and prejudices were presented to the present pupils, teachers, parents and citizens, but by the symbolic acceptance of the American girl demonstrated that differences should be accepted and that people should be tolerant.
As part of the action, promotional material in the form of fliers, pens and notebooks was distributed to all present guests, and the end of the performance, the audience applauded while the actors bowed down and presented themselves.
ACTION “A WEALTH OF DIVERSITY”
Pupils from the High School “Dušan Trivunac Dragoš” in Svrljig, participants of the project, organized an action under the name “A Wealth of Diversity” on 21st of March 2008 which was held in the hall for physical education, with music and national dishes.
The aim of this action was to develop awareness of the differences between two cultures that make the world richer. The beauty of the culture from the Svrljig region was displayed through music, dances, costumes and traditional household objects. Also the beauty of the distant Indian culture was shown through the costumes, dances, music and symbols of India. The action ended with a “merging” of Indian and eastern Serbian culture, i.e. from the Svrljig region, while the participants of the action and present teachers together were dancing and playing games, which showed the beauty of diversity.
This kind of promotion of the wealth of diversity encouraged attendees to think about distant cultures and showed that young people want to meet other people and learn about their culture. The action was covered by the media and hundreds of pupils, citizens, representatives of parents and local institutions.
ACTION “SMILE – THE MORE BEAUTIFUL SIDE OF OUR CITY”
Pupils from the High School “Nikola Tesla” from Boljevac organized an action under the name “Smile – The More Beautiful Side of Our City,” which was held in the central hall of the school in the presence of pupils, principals, part of a larger school’s staff and numerous guests. The action was attended, along with the Head of Municipality of Boljevac and the Court President, by the Head of Education – Cultural Center, and the principal and representatives of the kindergarten.
Displaying photographs of people with smiling faces (photographs or women, men, children, the elderly, etc.), pupils from the school promoted tolerance, intercultural relations and gender equality. Around 150 photographs were posted whose authors created them after successfully completing workshops on those themes. Comments in three languages – Serbian, English and French were posted under most of the photographs and it was planned that the exhibition would also be organized in three more places in the city – in one store window in the city, in the lobby of the Municipal Administration Building Boljevac and in the school library.
After the action, the distribution of promotional materials at the school and in the center of Boljevac was organized, and the action itself was accompanied by the local media.
ACTION “HERE, AS WE ARE!”
Pupils from the High School of Civil Engineering “Neimar” from Niš, participants of the project, organized an action under the name “Here, As We Are” which was held in front of the school building with the presence of a large number of pupils and teachers.
During the action itself, an exhibition of photographs was displayed in which pupils were able to present the diversity among themselves (men, women, children, elderly, etc.). The exhibition was placed in front of the school and the pupils who attended the workshops were the photographers. The participants taught visitors about the topics, answered their questions and served snacks. An advertisement board was also presented which shed light on the current action “Here, As We Are,” and which also served as a board for comments and remarks about the action which visitors had an opportunity to write on stickers of different colors.
After the end of the action the, promotional materials were distributed and the sound of music and the nice weather contributed to the action which was accompanied by a large number of pupils from not only the “host” school but also from nearby technical schools and colleges. Pupils expressed the wish and hope that the school is not the only place where the exhibition will be organized and presented.
FINAL EVALUATION MEETING
From 11th to 13th of April 2008 the final evaluation meeting was held at the hotel “Zdravljak” in Sokobanja for the project “Better Understanding the Differences.” The meeting was attended by 57 participants, of which 19 were teachers, 4 were school principals, 27 were pupils, 2 were representatives from the Department of the Ministry of Education in Niš and 5 were representatives who organized the meeting.
After the opening of the final meeting and the reviews of the project presentations, the organizers and every school that participated in the project, the results of the evaluation of teacher’s education, workshops in schools and actions were shown, then a ten-minute film about the project and all of its actions, and at the end a brochure about the project and its activities was promoted.
The second day of the meeting was concerned with the project evaluation at the school level and at the level of evaluating the project as a whole. Evaluations were first done in groups, teachers and pupils separately, and then the results were analyzed in their entirety. Analysis showed that the teachers’ evaluation matched that of the students’, which just shows the objectivity of the results of the evaluation process that derived from the different beneficiaries of the project.
Some of the indicated results were: increasing the level of knowledge of the pupils and teachers concerning intercultural relations, tolerance and gender equality, change of behavior and increased tolerance in teachers and pupils, promotion of school in community and better cooperation with institutions, the local government and NGOs in the community, better communication between teachers and pupils, as well as among teachers, empowering pupils to participate more, an improved atmosphere at school and cooperation among schools, etc.
At the end of the second day, participants of the meeting were shown the performance created by the pupils from “Branislav Nušić” High School from Sokobanja, called “Be Tolerant – Respect the Differences,” which was created as the final action following the workshop in the framework of the project “Better Understanding the Differences.”
On the third day of the meeting, conclusions about the implementation of the project and its sustainability were adopted. It was agreed that teams would be formed for the sustainability of the project at the level of every school that would keep contact with the network and regularly meet at the premises of the leader of the project. Also, it was concluded that every school, within its means, would continue with similar activities for the next school year, and that teachers keep their classes updated constantly by the new contents and topics that were gained through the realization of this project.
|Location:||Niš, Aleksinac, Sokobanja, Boljevac i Svrljig|
|Target group:||Pupils from 10 high schools|
|Activities:||Training for the teachers about interculturality and gender equality, workshops for the pupils in schools, local actions of the young, campaigns, movie, printing of the brochure and final conference of the pupils|
|Number of beneficiaries:||2000 pupils|
|Donor(s):||Canadian International Development Agency CIDA|