All partners in the “Otherness” project share the idea that every individual is unique, equally worthy and has the right to live according to their beliefs, customs, practices and established behavior rules. Nowadays we live in a world in which globalization and migration have brought together people from different ethnic origins, religious backgrounds, beliefs, traditions and languages. But sharing a common space does not automatically result in opening yourself to Otherness, trying to understand differences, valuing diversity and building common grounds for dialogue.
Human rights, diversity, tolerance and non-violence related issues have become even more important considering the Charlie Hebdo shooting and all alerting January 2015 events in Paris and the following violence acts in other places round the world. All “Otherness” partners come from countries which are at the EU external borders and also have large minority groups, which makes project objectives even more relevant in the context they exist. The project involves 4 partners from Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Portugal. The participating institutions, 3 NGOs and a university, have strong background in designing training resources and providing trainings in civic education related topics and non-formal and formal education approaches.
We believe that schooling could play a key role in overcoming the historically developed negative attitudes to human differences, which is one of the key objectives of the project. Project activities aim at supporting students in being open-minded, understanding and valuing diversity, knowing and respecting human rights and being actively involved in community life. The realization of this role suggests that teachers have the knowledge, skills and tools which will enable them to provide training activities for students in the project subject areas.
The target groups of the project are (1) Students aged 12/13 -15 (lower secondary school age) when they start consciously shaping attitudes and concepts; (2) Teachers and (3) Local communities
Project activities and outputs comprise:
1. Researching (Output1): relevant initiatives, strategic documents and available research papers on the way Otherness is reflected in school books and supplementary teaching materials in the participating countries and students’ attitude to otherness in the allocated educational institutions prior to project activities.
2. Designing a training programme (Output2) for raising students’ sensitivity to Otherness, cultural differences, skills for intercultural dialogue and active involvement comprising 2 complementary products: a Digital tool for students and a Teachers’ manual . The themes which will be developed are Human rights, discrimination and prejudice; Diversity and Identity and citizenship. Each theme is to be presented in the teachers’ manual and supported by e-resources in the Digital tool with relevant activities.
3. Transnational training activity 1 (C1) for teachers from selected schools
4. Piloting the Training programme in the selected educational institutions during school year 2016-2017
5. Feedback and recommendations from participating teachers and students in the pilot trainings
6. Upgrading the Training programme to meet teachers’ and students’ recommendations
7. Transnational training activity 2 (C2) for teachers
8. Final implementation: teachers form C2 run trainings in the institutions they teach in during school year 2017-2018
9. Evaluation – survey on students’ attitude to Otherness
Project activities will result in acquiring new knowledge and skills, and changing attitudes:
Students will learn about Human Rights; believe and respect human rights to a greater extent, i.e. no matter what a person does, or thinks, or likes, or looks like, they can live a life of dignity with all their human rights respected; value better every member of society as a human being and feel valued themselves as human beings; feel able to contribute more and get involved in community life.
Teachers will get the knowledge of basics in Human Rights, Diversity and Involvement education; master skills which will enable them to discuss questions on existing notions of human differences in modern society and run relevant activities; responsibly accept a code of behaviour so that all their actions and interactions bear respect to Otherness and students’ individuality; get to use modern non-formal education methods both in project trainings and their routine teaching jobs.
In the long run, we expect the students who have participated in the project, to grow up and become open-minded and valuing Diversity citizens and build societies of non-violence based on collaboration, assertiveness and integrity.