The Erasmus+ project “Multi-culturally sensitive generation” was created by 6 partner schools from Romania, Italy, Slovenia, Turkey, Latvia, and Poland. The CONTEXT/BACKGROUND of this project is connected to our contemporary society and its tendency to generalize and to use stereotypes. This theme is very important for young learners who create their image of the world and later participate in the decision-making processes that are based on their previous knowledge.
The main project OBJECTIVES were connected to stereotypes: increase the awareness of prejudice towards different cultures and countries; develop tolerance, openness and respect for other nationalities and cultures; give the opportunity for the students, teachers, parents and community to know each other; develop intercultural, social and communication skills for teachers and students; improve teachers’ skills in inclusive education; improve foreign language competence for all the participants.
The project engaged a similar number of PARTICIPANTS (students and teachers) from each partner schools: 10 students and 6 teachers engaged in short-term exchanges. Additionally, the project involved all the local school society during various local level activities. The total beneficiary group consists of approximately 6000 European citizens.
The MAIN PROJECT ACTIVITIES were focused on different types of stereotypes. Each partner chose a particular type of stereotypes and local level activities focused on these particular stereotypes: religious stereotypes, behavior stereotypes, stereotypes about foreign pupils, learning styles stereotypes, stereotypes towards persons with physical or mental disabilities, and environmental stereotypes. During the project 6 short-term learning activities for students were organized in each partner school and 3 project meetings (Italy, Turkey, Latvia) were carried out in order to discuss the progress of the activities, solve any potential problems and to monitor or develop the project tasks. Also, one methodological course for teachers was organized in Naples on the topic of inclusive education. All these courses, their contents, and methods were innovative, interactive and focused on the exchange of personal experience and good practices.
Although the initial period of project implementation (29 months) was reduced to 24 months, all the original projects activities and products were realized as planned and within the allocated budget.
The project methodology had the following plan:
– identifying the needs, concerns, and difficulties encountered in different contexts and countries;
– examining strategies currently in place in each institution to support abolishing the most relevant forms of stereotyping;
– adopting the best practice from each institution and adapting these practices for them to be used in each school/college;
– creating new approaches/strategies to help disadvantaged students to successfully integrate into their own community;
– examining possible progression routes for students who may feel different because they are considered by the others “differentˮ (both to higher levels within the school, but also on to higher level institutions).
As for the RESULTS, they include both methods and products. The methods refer to innovative processes of cooperation, exchanges of ideas and the experiences including the know-how, the satisfaction, the motivation acquired by each organization, beneficiaries, and other stakeholders. The products include: calendars, a brochure “Religion is not a barrier”, a booklet “My Little Techbook”, a comic book “Us and THEM”, a digital handbook “Let’s turn prejudices off”, a mini-touristic guide “Spend your holiday in my country”, a school guide “Cross The Borders, Transcend Your Limitsˮ, a flyer “We are not as people say”, etc. Also, we created a project website that includes all project products and has a friendly, complex and useful structure.
The project had a great IMPACT on: the participants (by pointing out the cultural diversity and building the trust or respect of different cultures and traditions); on the participating organizations (by getting to know different tools and approaches to deal with stereotypes and discrimination).
As LONG-TERM PROJECT BENEFITS, we can mention: improving the participants’ language skills and general key skills, in order to be able to communicate with other people; changing the participants’ mentalities by abolishing the stereotypical thinking and increasing their self-confidence; creating an European educational climate which broadens students’ perspective on their careers; developing skills for teachers that will enable them to provide a better inclusive education in a multi-culturally context and later passing these skills to students; improving the school climate for each partner institution thanks to youth exchanges, thus augmenting the degree of motivation towards the education process for both students and teachers.