Intercultural teaching methods for the education systemA success story from Macedonia 12.12.16 | Manuela Flattich
Vladimir Gjorgjevski lives in Macedonia, works at a partner organisation of the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation, and attended the emPower further education course at the Children’s Village in 2015. How has Vladimir applied the things he learned in his home country, and what has he achieved since he returned? The Foundation asked him – and was amazed by his success story.
The South-East European country of Macedonia is still struggling with a weak economy. In this land-locked country, which has a population of around two million, development is proceeding at a slow pace, and only a small percentage of the gross domestic product goes towards the education system. Children and young people of various ethnicities share a classroom, but the failure to discuss and dispel prejudices means that discrimination is widespread. Since the armed insurgency in 2001, which saw Albanian minorities demand greater rights, the law has stated that ethnic minorities making up more than 20% of the population are entitled to receive schooling in their own language. However, this teaching often takes place on different floors or even in different school buildings. As a result, the country still lacks the necessary foundation for recognising problems in society or for peaceful coexistence.
Learning about intercultural awareness
Vladimir Gjorgjevski has been concerned with the education system, which he says is facing a huge crisis, for a long time. This is why the 25-year-old works as a coordinator at a local child welfare organisation that works to boost acceptance of ethnic minorities through mixed school classes. In 2015, Vladimir came to the Children’s Village for eight months and attended courses on education, intercultural communication and development cooperation as part of the emPower intercultural training programme.
Alternative approaches to teaching for youth workers
As part of the further education programme at the Children’s Village, Vladimir focused intensively on teaching methods in an intercultural environment. The Macedonian also planned and developed the workshop «Teaching Methods in Intercultural Areas», which he recently held at an «ErasmusPlus KA1 Training» in Prague. «ErasmusPlus KA1» is a platform sponsored by the European Union. Among other things, it provides further education to teachers and youth workers who work in an intercultural environment. Over eight days, the former emPower student led a variety of workshops on alternative teaching methods and intercultural awareness. During these workshops, Vladimir and the 34 participants from six European states developed approaches to teaching that take account of and address a variety of cultural backgrounds.
«The education system needs teaching methods that incorporate interculturality. This is the only way to improve communication and cooperation, and thereby to achieve peaceful coexistence.»Vladimir Gjorgjevski – Leader of the workshop on intercultural teaching methods, Macedonia
Applying the lessons learned across the whole of Europe
For example, in the «Babel Tower» exercise, the youth workers and teachers completed tasks jointly while all speaking in their own national languages, such as Hungarian and Swedish. This helped them to realise that people can communicate and come to an understanding despite speaking different languages. In another exercise, the participants studied formal and informal teaching methods, shared their experiences and, by doing so, gathered ideas for alternative teaching methods that take account of interculturality. The workshop made them more aware of teaching in an intercultural environment and prompted them to develop new projects, which are now being incorporated into teaching in their home countries. The aim is to dispel prejudices against other ethnicities in schools and to demonstrate to children and young people the opportunities that an intercultural environment offers.
In addition to the successful workshop, Vladimir is also involved in other projects. For example, at the end of November 2016, he and eight experts submitted a document to the Macedonian government highlighting ways to improve the country’s education system. After all, it is essential to work with the government in order to put an end to social injustices in the long term and across the whole country. In addition, Vladimir is soon to carry out another project in the field of education at the South East European University of Macedonia.
A long way to go
He has his work cut out for him, as there is still a lot of room for improvement. In future, therefore, the driven Macedonian wants to continue doing all he can to create a country that is free of discrimination and that appreciates ethnic diversity.
We would like to thank Vladimir Gjorgjevski for his commitment and wish him all the best and good luck for the future!