Socio-emotional learning for active citizenship
This article is based on the study visit report, compiled by representatives of visit organisations: Educational Research Institute (Slovenia), Center for Education Policies (CEP, Serbia) and Center for Innovation in Education (CIE, Azerbaijan)
Socio-emotional well-being of the student is crucial not only for achievement and learning, but also to support civic engagement. The 2019 NEPC study visit organised and hosted in early December 2019 by Forum for Freedom in Education (FFE) was dedicated to the connection between active citizenship and socio-emotional learning. The visit was attended by representative of Educational Research Institute (ERI, Slovenia), Center for Education Policy (CEP, Serbia) and Center for Innovation in Education (CIE, Azerbaijan).
Participants mutually explored and evaluated several of their implemented projects and programs. These programs are designed to build the competences of teachers and supporting school staff in developing resilience of young people and empowering them in finding their identity and talents, valuing their needs and goals, rising and practicing empathy and civic engagement as well as broadening their understanding of the complex world and communities they live in, with the goal of enriching and developing young people´ s personal, interpersonal and civic skills and competences.
FFE presented its EU funded project “Start the Change – Embracing differences through intercultural education and volunteering”, aiming at the prevention of radicalization among youth in education and promotion of diversity and mutual appreciation through volunteering. CEP representatives shared insights from their EU-CoE project “Fostering a democratic school culture in Serbia”, in the frame of which 20 primary and secondary schools were developing competences for democratic culture through their activities with support of mentors from CEP. CIE introduced the participants with the national project “Friends of Pupil”, supported by the Ministry of Education and State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Participants of the project were students from 30 Baku city schools, 112 teachers and psychologists, volunteers. In 2018, the project piloted and and applied comprehensive integrated social and psychological services at district level to enhancing well-being of children, including promotion of effective and safe learning environments, prevention of academic and behaviour problems, response to crises, and improvement of family–school collaboration and teachers-student relationship. ERI devoted particular attention to the presentation of the HAND in HAND project – Social and Emotional Skills for Tolerant and Non-discriminative Societies (A Whole School Approach), that developed an open access program for students and school staff based on multiculturalism and diversity awareness that fosters inclusion and develops more tolerant and non-discriminative learning environments.
The delegation had also the chance to visit one of the schools that participated in FFE project Start the Change and to be presented on the field with some of the activities carried out within the project, such as the volunteering projects (in cooperation with the local community), workshops and other initiative’s about the acceptance and celebration of diversity. The visiting delegation reported that «it was very valuable for us to see the content and structure of raining delivered to schools staff and students, as well as visit the school and discuss their experience. In this short visit we managed to collect some good ideas, but also to establish connection with motivated school staff that can contribute the implementation of projects in our countries».