Good practices of Intercultural Education in Elementary Schools in Eastern Croatia and Macedonia

–  School Inclusion Projects –

Two schools from Croatia, Elementary School Siniša Glavašević from Vukovar  and Dalj Elementary School, that   are partners in GEAR project also participate in the network of schools that organize intercultural education Kulturna i duhovna baština zavičaja / Cultural and Spiritual Heritage of the Region in cooperation with Nansen Dialog Center from Osijek.

Through GEAR project, schools organized School Solidarity and Inclusion projects. First, schools started with needs assessment and after that school projects  were developed and implemented and after that schools were able to exchange good practices not only with other schools from Croatia but also with schools from other countries and especially with schools from Macedonia and Slovenia.

The Elementary School Liria from Tetovo in Macedonia also participated in the GEAR project as partner school.

Project activities aimed at developing and deepening civic and intercultural literacy and contributing to intercultural understanding and constructive communication.

Using the method of personal narratives in innovative teaching and learning, elementary school students were able to apprehend and analyze such complex notions as social stereotypes and prejudice, group identity, social exclusion and awareness of the privileges and access to social resources, drawing from their own lived experience. Also, focus on civic participation through examples of civic engagement and courage encouraged students to participate more in the local communities.

Elementary School Siniša Glavašević in Vukovar conducted a project that placed emphasis on the thematic of ethnic minorities, equality and human rights. Project activities were organized as a part of extracurricular program Kulturna i duhovna baština zavičaja (Cultural and Spiritual Heritage of the Region) and were carried out during school year 2017/2018. 

Both students who attend classes in Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet and those who attend classes in Croatian language and Latin alphabet participated in project activities. Bringing together students from separate shifts in joint weekly classes contributed to them getting to know each other and exploring their cultural and family backgrounds together. Project activities included researching national minorities and collecting data for building a family tree.

Project activities:

  • Series of workshops  (Who am I – Identity card; Same, but Different; Prejudice and Stereotypes, Family Tree – National Minorities, Democratic Values, Fundamental Rights, Intercultural Understanding and Active Citizenship; Identity; Tradition of the Region; Archaic Words and Expressions);
  • Collecting data on national minorities, working in groups and presenting their work;
  • Visiting partner school in Macedonia;
  • Hosting members of Matica slovačka Osijek and a Japanese language teacher.

School project of solidarity organized by Dalj Elementary School took place during the school year 2017/2018 and it continues through 2018/2019. Following the needs analysis conducted by students and teachers, the first part of project activities was organized as a series of workshops through which students were expected to deepen their understanding of stereotypes and prejudice, social exclusion and interculturality.

The second part of the project placed focus on developing intercultural competence by learning (and un-learning, which at times proved to be just as important) about different cultures and cultural differences. Students engaged in a fruitful exchange with their partner school “Sveti Kliment Ohridski” in Ohrid, Macedonia. Following intensive communication and a series of presentations on different aspects of Macedonian and Slavonian culture, such as gastronomy, customs, religion, national minorities, both schools paid visits to each other and presented their findings on cultural landmarks of the region they were visiting. During the visit to Macedonia, students from Dalj were also given the opportunity to visit the Nansen Centre in Skopje as well as Elementary School “Bratstvo” in Skopje, a model school of the Nansen Model for integrated education, since the education is conducted both in Macedonian and Albanian language.

Project activities included:

  • Organization of workshops;
  • Research on Slavonian customs and heritage and filming a video-presentation;
  • Research and presentation on aspects of Macedonian culture and heritage;
  • Exchange between schools and local communities.

The school projects were organized as part of extracurricular activity Kulturna i duhovna baština zavičaja / Cultural and Spiritual Heritage of the Region and in collaboration with Nansen Dialogue Centre from Osijek. Project activities aimed at developing and deepening civic and intercultural competence of students and contributing to intercultural understanding and constructive communication.

Elementary School Liria in Tetovo, Macedonia  organized School Intercultural and Inclusion Project – Together we can do more! The elementary school Liria, a partner school in GEAR project, has undertaken a needs-assessment in order to map the needs and define activities that students find to be relevant for implementation throughout the school year 2017/2018. 160 students of different classes (from first to ninth grade) and different ethnic and religious background took part in the survey. Results showed that the students identified as important the question of more thorough integration and inclusion of students with special needs in school and extracurricular activities. One of the proposals was to organize extracurricular activities through which the majority of students will have the opportunity to cooperate in organizing workshops with the students with special needs and help them evolve their creativity and social skills. The results of the survey also showed the willingness of students to contribute to a better and ecologically clean environment. Students also proposed activities concerning recycling of materials and waste reduction as well as expressed their willingness to organize a neighbourhood clean-up. 

Project activities included:

  • Art workshop and exhibition in the school hallway
  • Recycling workshop and exhibition
  • Ecological action marking the Earth Day on April 22, 2018

Project activities were then organized around these two major issues. Environmental issues and ecology were tackled in a workshop on recycling. 25 students from different ethnic background including students with special needs participated in the workshop. This activity was organized in order to raise awareness of recycling and waste sorting. In a workshop organized for all the teachers and students in the school, students learned to reuse different materials for creating decorations for the school all while cooperating and socializing with one another.

Raising awareness of the problems of students with special needs and their integration through interaction, cooperation and communication, was addressed through an art workshop. In the art workshop organized for students from first to fifth grade, participants focused on crafting different art assignments and creating artworks symbolizing differences and mutual support of all the children in the school. The artworks were subsequently exhibited in the school hallway. All the project activities included students with different ethnic and religious background. T