Broad support leads to acceptance

05.06.2018 - 10:33 | Christian Possa

Inter-ethnic school activities and improved teaching methods are the central focus of the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation’s efforts to promote mutual understanding within civil society in Macedonia.

In their civic education class, pupils learn about what a country needs for its people to co-exist peacefully. Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation / Peter Käser

In Macedonia, children from different ethnic groups live in separate worlds. The division appears in communities where people live in different areas depending on their culture, and is then reflected in the education system, as children from different ethnic groups attend different schools.

Since 2012, the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation and a local organization called the Macedonian Civic Education Center (MCEC) have been working together, and in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, to help to promote inter-cultural education in schools and communities and on a national level. «At first, it wasn’t easy to persuade schools and teachers to take on the additional workload to enable mixed classes,» says country representative Azbija Memedova, «The Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation and its work have gained a lot more trust since then.»

This is not least due to the fact that they have approached the task of integrating inter-cultural education from many different angles. Of course, the project focuses on bringing pupils together and training teachers, but it involves every affected party, from the school council to the parents. At an institutional level, the project helps to integrate inter-cultural education into internal school policies. Working with the Ministry of Education, the Foundation is revising the civic education syllabus and integrating relevant inter-cultural themes.

More than 4,000 pupils in 27 primary schools across Macedonia currently benefit from the mixed school activities. 635 teachers are attending specialized training courses to improve their methods. By the end of 2019, the project is set to have reached more than 12,000 children and young people and 800 teachers.

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