4 August 2008

All Different - All Equal

After developing an Action Plan towards a multicultural school, teachers, parents and students of the Elementary School Deryneia A' started putting their plans into practice.
Teachers gathered interactive and inter-cultural exercises and applied them in selected lessons. An international cooking day gave all the pupils the taste of cultural diversity. Parents spent their morning in the school's kitchen to prepare traditional recipes from their home country, while the pupils were learning how to pronounce the cakes and pies, and were looking up the countries on the globe before everyone could enjoy the delicious tastes.
A very clear statement to the entire school community was made through the painting of the schoolyard's wall: "All Different - All Equal", designed and painted by the pupils themselves.
Another highlight was the selection of games from various countries that the pupils began to practice during their sports lessons. Besides the rules of the games the pupils also practiced to say the name and certain phrases required in order to perform the game in the language of the country the game originates.
The school year ended with a multicultural school festival, passing on the message of "All Different - All Equal".

The ideal multicultural School - Students, parents and teachers at Highgate School design the ideal school

On 03, 04 and 14 April, 17 students, teachers and parents of the Highgate School in Nicosia took part in an interactive, structured dialogue workshop to envision the ideal multicultural school. Being already a very open and multicultural school, the Highgate participants could reflect on their own school, how they would like to see it in the future, and what obstacles are still faced on various levels. After three very interesting workshop sessions with extensive discussions, the participants concluded that open-minded teachers as well as a school environment that encourages cultural diversity are essential to create a multicultural school. While all participants agreed that teachers at Highgate are already very open-minded, they saw a major obstacle in the influence of the families and in parents that do not give the necessary support to a multicultural education of their children. In contrast to other schools that saw major obstacles in the educational system, the participants in this workshop agreed that the root cause obstacle in many cases is the fear of change and the stereotypes that are constructed and kept by the family and the society.
Discussions brought many ideas for action at the school to further promote cultural diversity and that would specifically involve the parents as well.

Interactive Workshop at Elementary School in Limassol

A two-day interactive workshop at the 22nd Elementary School in Limassol brought together 19 teachers, students and parents. Together they generated 74 vision ideas for an ideal school in a multicultural Cyprus and structured 21 of these statements in an influence map. During the second day, the participants jointly defined the main obstacles to the ideal school envisioned in the first phase of the workshop. The root cause obstacles that the participants identified were: 'Economic', 'Bad Programming from the Ministry', 'The politics of the government of how and what the citizens want to create' and 'Non consideration of opinion of educators'. Having concluded the influence map of the main obstacles, the participants started discussing how to proceed and what activities to implement so as to reach the vision.
It was decided to organise a follow-up workshop so that an action plan can be generated.

27 February 2008

Building a Multicultural School in Deryneia

The interactive workshop at the Elementary School Deryneia A was a great success.

Fourteen students, five parents and six teachers of the Elementary School Deryneia A’ came together in a two-day interactive workshop and developed their vision for a multicultural school that respects children of all cultures and with all social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

During the first phase of the workshop, the group focused on the triggering question: “What are the characteristics of an ideal school that values the characteristics of the new multicultural European Cyprus, for the benefit of the students?”. The students, teachers and parents generated more than 70 ideas that describe the ideal multicultural school, such as ‘children from all countries play together’, ‘all children feel comfortable in the classroom, regardless of race and home country’, ‘the parents’ association will have parents from all countries’, ‘all children can express their opinion’, and ‘a flexible school curriculum according to the composition of the school’. After clustering all ideas and voting for the most favorable ones, the workshop participants created a map of influence and structured over 25 of the ideas according to their interrelation and influence. The result is a rich map with all the ideas, showing the most influential ideas that will help materializing others, working towards the ideal multicultural school. During the second phase of the workshop, the participants determined the obstacles that need to be overcome in order to reach the visualized multicultural school, and during a follow-up workshop, the project team will assist the students, parents and teachers to develop a concrete action plan for their school.

The workshop showed the great interest and enthusiasm of students, parents and teachers to work together for a multicultural school and a multicultural society, in which all citizens and all students can benefit from one another and in which diversity is perceived as richness and not as an obstacle.

A core group of participants gathered on 26 January to design an Action Plan based on the outcomes of the previous workshop sessions. A total of 15 concrete ideas were discussed and tasks were split among the participants. Actions include interactive exercises in the classroom, multicultural games, international cooking classes and a workshop on multiculturalism for the parents’ association.

A full report on the outcomes of the workshop will be available for download soon.

12 October 2007

Who is involved in the Project?

The coordinating organization of this project is the Future Worlds Center (legal reg.: Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute), based in Nicosia. The project’s partner organizations are: the Cyprus Adult Education Association, the Human Rights and Education Network, the University of Cyprus (Department for Political Sciences), and the Young Cypriot Scientists Network.
The project receives funding from the UNDP Action for Cooperation and Trust program.

This project addresses three immediate target groups:
v students of different ages
v parents
v teachers
Furthermore, through a number of additional actions, such as Panel Discussions, a Conference and Information Events it targets the Cypriot society, at large.

Activities of the Project

To meet the objectives of the project, the applicants intend to employ two different types of activities:

v Panel discussions and
v Interactive structured democratic dialogue workshops.

The panel discussions aim to create a forum, which will encourage discussion, open debates, and exchange of different views. We envision that these open discussion forums will help create awareness about the problems, familiarize attendees with current European practices and regulations, and lead to better understanding of other people’s perspectives.
In their first phase, the structured dialogue workshops will focus in defining obstacles to a multi-cultural school environment. The second phase will focus on developing a joint vision map for a multi-cultural Cyprus with a special focus on the school environment. In the workshops, teachers, parents and students will work together. In a third phase they will develop an action plan to implement their own specific projects, with the aim to facilitate materializing that vision of a multicultural Cyprus.
The project will conclude with a final conference, in which results of the workshops, as well as the specific activities implemented by the workshop participants will be presented. The conference will be open to the general public with a special focus on NGOs, teachers and educators. Experts will contribute to the conference with their academic and scientific work, and will place the project results in a wider scientific context of societal change.

Expected results of the Project

x A shared vision for a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Cyprus created jointly by students, teachers, and parents.
x A set of specific activities to foster sensitivity for a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Cyprus, carried out by participants involved in the project.
x Newspaper-publications about the structured workshops, and their outcome as an expression of a new vision shared across Cypriot students, parents, and teachers.
x A scientific publication of the results of the structured-design workshops.
x A series of five booklets about multiculturalism to be disseminated during panel discussions and other events.
x A final symposium combined with a press conference with take-home deliverables about the new vision shared across Cypriot students, parents, and teachers.
x A final project report to be disseminated to NGOs and schools across Cyprus.