We have entered the third year of the ARISE: Action for Reducing Inequalities in Education, a project that aims to contribute to improving the wellbeing of children from low socio-economic backgrounds in education, by using the two-level approach (policy and school level).
Many activities have already been implemented on both levels:
- Selection of Grassroot Organizations (AL, BA, MK, RS, XK, TR)
- National and policy briefs addressing the equity issues in the implementing countries;
- Comparative report including data-driven policy recommendations and identified good practices and promising solutions for mitigating adverse effects of poverty (video);
- ARISE Thematic webinars on equity and education;
- NEPC & ARISE Summer School 2021: Bridging Equity Gaps in Education/School;
- Training for the school mentors implemented
- ARISE Regional Policy Lab (lecture).
Implementation of the School Development Programme (SDP) in the schools, the most crucial element of the school level approach, is starting this autumn thus it is the right time to introduce it to the wider audience.
School Development Programme learning pack consists of two main elements. First element is the training of the school action teams that is based on the best practices for addressing the needs of students from low SES background. The training provides the basis for the second element – design of the specific School Development Plan for each participating school that will be implemented with the school action teams.
The SDP and the rationale behind is presented by Adnan Pripoljac from the Center for Educational Initiatives Step by Step (SBS BH), a partner organization that was leading its development.
- For the beginning, please explain generally, what is understood under the “School Development Programme (SDP)”?
The School Development Programme is intended primarily to empower schools in the process of developing plans for creating a safe environment where every child feels accepted regardless of the socioeconomic background and develops the competencies, he or she needs. It is based on universal human values, mutual respect and support.
For the child to feel safe and accepted in the school, inclusive and supportive school climate and culture that reflects in the sense of physical and psychological safety as well as the sense of belonging and supportive and respectful interpersonal relations between all stakeholders, adults and children, has to be fostered.
The training program consists of five modules, offering steps in the climate and culture development process and suggested steps to implement what is learned after each module with the support of the school mentors. Each of the modules starts from the current school situation and needs, offers a theoretical framework and various ideas and solutions, examples of existing good practices and tools and instruments that can be of use for each school.
School mentors are experts in the school improvement/development who implement the training program with the school action teams and facilitate the implementation of the School Development Plan. School action teams are composed of the teachers, students, parents and other relevant community members. During the training, school action teams learn how to design and successfully implement school development plans and outline the action plan that will be implemented with the support of the school mentors next school year.
The School Development Programme is personified in School Development Plans as their main tool have different recognition inside the educational legislation in the countries where the ARISE project is implemented. For example, in Serbia school development plan methodology is prescribed by the law on education while in some cantons in Bosnia and Herzegovina law on education doesn’t even mention the school development program/plan at all and in practice it is mostly just a small chapter under the yearly work plan for schools. Therefore, the methodology described in SDP is quite broad and requires prerequisite knowledge on local educational legislation in countries where it is being used but nevertheless it provides a set of universal tools and concepts that can be easily adapted to the local context. The adaptability of the SDP enabled the successful implementation of the inception training of the two school mentors and five school action teams in each implementing country.
- Important element of the School Development Programme are values. Why are they important?
The School Development Programme is designed so that it involves school teams, teachers and children, administration and parents. However, having in mind the extremely important role of the principal, support staff and other members of the school administration, who set the school climate, support the development of good relations, create a positive and supportive environment, the program strengthens their competencies as well. Nurturing and developing the mind and heart of every child is the ultimate goal of a quality educational system. Values that are defined through specific behaviors help us make good decisions, reflect on our actions and consequences, other people and the environment. They offer us guidance on how to become persons with integrity, self-confidence and self-esteem. Living this kind of values means being able to build a world based on the principles of mutual respect, social justice and solidarity - a world that nurtures peace, friendship, encourages responsibility and values education.
- Please elaborate more about the SDP manual you have developed within the ARISE project.
A learning pack for schools named “School Development Programme (SDP)” is designed based on the best practices for addressing the needs of students from low SES background, and it also integrates ideas, good practices and knowledge gained through the interaction of ARISE project partner organizations. The purpose of the learning pack is to provide basis of designing specific intervention programs for each participating school in ARISE project. Therefore, the learning pack offers successful examples and applicable ideas to schools on how to mitigate the effects of poverty in education and to provide each student with equal chance for success in education and life.
The SDP offers various resources for school action teams including the outline of the content for inception trainings for schools including topics such as insight into educational implications of poverty and child development, addressing the needs of low SES students at school (instruction, extracurricular activities, communication with parents, good practice examples), low SES-related data collection as well as step by step approach in development of an action plan for addressing the needs of low SES students based on present situation analyses, available data, as well as forces and trends that might affect them in the future.
It focuses on incorporating shared values of all stakeholders related to school in school climate and culture in order to inspire entire school community to create a supportive school climate – in which the voice of every student counts, where students are supported to recognize and develop their competencies, know themselves, develop self-esteem, help each other and learn from each other i.e. develop circumstances which contribute to the development of the full potential and better academic achievement for all students.
- What is the main guiding idea behind it? What is the purpose/ultimate goal?
The main guiding idea behind School Development Programme is that a school is not just a space where children and adults spend time every day or where knowledge is transmitted, where data and facts are learned and remembered, the school is, above all, a community where cultural norms and values are passed on and relationships with peers and adults are established. It’s a place where the child learns through experiences and develops the skills he or she needs to live in a wider social environment. School Development Programme provides the opportunity for developing and implementing school development plan that enables the involvement of the children, parents and community who usually aren’t involved in the active reflection about the quality and improvement of the school.
A stimulating environment for children who come from weaker socio-economic status is extremely important. For such children and families, creative interventions at school and in the community are needed in order to overcome any obstacle in further learning and progress.
The ARISE School Development Programme will be implemented this autumn in the five schools in each implementing country (AL, BA, MK, RS, XK). It will be available on the project website as well, make sure to follow our social media (FB, TW) so you do not miss it!