The second cycle of Project aimed to enhance social inclusion of Roma by promoting inclusive education policies and practices within the education system that would enhance social inclusion of Roma. Based on the experiences from selected schools and concrete evidence from INSCHOOL1, the project aimed to propose policy changes and support national stakeholders to adapt for a more inclusive approach.
INSCHOOL second cycle of implementation consisted of four interlinked goals:
- Schools are made more inclusive through support to the school staff, teachers, parents and children
- Networking is further developed among inclusive schools at the domestic and international levels
- Support is provided to remove concrete obstacles to equal access to quality education at the national level
- Awareness is raised about the benefits of inclusive education for the general public as well as decision makers.
The project implemented a dual approach by working at school and policy levels. At the school level: INSCHOOL implemented the methodology of the “Index for Inclusion”, by providing staff in each school with continuous and local support. School actions were reinforced by grants and the schools were supported in the development of their own Inclusive School Development Plans by an INSCHOOL National Team. Schools also engaged in peer knowledge sharing within the project to implement further inclusive practices and activities;
At the policy level: In close cooperation with the Ministries in charge of education in each country, a National Working Group worked at policy level on the gaps and inconsistencies between existing policies and practices in schools, providing assistance in addressing them. In this way, inclusive practices in education were sustained by inclusive national policies.
Achievements at practice Level
The second cycle of implementation of the INSCHOOL joint project was operational in three countries: the Czech Republic, Romania, and the Slovak Republic. Activities designed to promote inclusive education were implemented in 20 schools, with methodological support provided in 2 additional schools. Following a kick-off phase marked by methodological adaptation in response to the challenges brought by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, INSCHOOL2 continued its presence in schools through interventions of facilitators via a combination of face-to-face and online meetings, respecting the local and national measures.
Some of the main project achievements are:
- 1122 interventions were carried out by INSCHOOL Facilitators and Educational Advisors in schools in the participating countries this type of interventions have contributed to some of the following results: increased knowledge of schools stakeholders about the Index for Inclusion methodology and its practical application and benefit; improved the school governance structures and participatory practices; it has increased the capacity of schools for application of innovative teaching methodologies and techniques; and has increased the level of knowledge and understanding about inclusive education concepts, principles and approaches of teaching and nonteaching staff from the participating schools in the project;
- 20 coordinating groups were established in all participating schools, bringing together 140 members (Roma and nonRoma) with diverse profiles.Through coordination group meetings a value based and participatory decision making was ensured among wide range of school and community stakeholders.
- 20 Inclusive School Development Plans (ISDPs) were developed which enabled schools to organise and formalise their priorities and set up a vision and strategy for a more inclusive school based on values.
- A set of guidelines on to use the Index for Inclusion in the context of Covid19 were prepared to support national teams to continue their work within schools inspite of the circumstance provide by the pandemic.
- 20 schools received a grant support for the implementation of inclusive education activities as envisaged with the ISDPs. The following activities and results were noted:
- In total, 113 education activities were organised under the framework of the school grants indirectly reaching out to around 7 539 children in schools. There was overall increase in inclusivity/inclusion practices during the period of implementation. The self-evaluation survey has shown progress in many areas and highlighted issues that further require attention by school communities;
- Around 4 114 children were directly involved in activities organised by schools, including 2 033 Roma children, 480 parents and 268 teachers;
- 14 activities were specifically dedicated and involved 480 parents, out of which 193 were Roma and as a result the awareness of parents for the importance and benefits of inclusive education was raised, the participation in extracurricular activities has directly discouraged school student absenteeism and the knowledge in digital literacy (education platforms) was increased as a means to support and guide children through education during the pandemic;
- 15 school were able to adapt and equip multi-functional classrooms to provide space for additional support to students, workshops, remedial teaching, materials and other resources for innovative didactic teaching, sport and leisure time;
- Over 66 teachers were supported with psychological counselling and communication strategies with parents and students, and over 41 teachers were trained in using interactive online education platforms and adaptation of teaching methods which contributed to mitigating the effects of the pandemic on the wellbeing of teachers and improved communication practices in the school evironment;
- 234 teachers attended training events and, as a result, improved and adapted their teaching practices and inclusive school activities.
- In addition to the grant supported training activities, 13 training events and workshops (webinars) on intercultural education, Roma history and parental education were held, involving 300 teachers in Romania and the Slovak Republic, with significant ripple effect produced by the participants conducting followup actions with other teachers, students and parents.
- An international “INSCHOOL Training Programme for Teachers and Education Professionals on Quality and Inclusive Education” (QIE) gathered 32 teachers and educational professionals from participating schools, which facilitating sharing the best practices and inclusive teaching methods among the participants from three countries, but also reflecting on challenges faced and ways of overcoming them.
- 2 peerto-peer exchanges were organised in Romania and the Slovak Republic. These exchanges encouraged and enabled teachers’ coaching and sharing of good practices between schools and school staff.
- A small grant scheme was rolled out in Romania to respond to challenges posed by the Covid19 pandemic, it supported equal access to quality inclusive education and educational achievement for chldren in vulnerable situations. This initiative was later scaled up in Romania with the partnership of the Ministry of Education and reached 39 schools located in socially and economic disadvanted regions.
Outreach and visibility
In terms of outreach and visibility, INSCHOOL2 was promoted through various means:
- 7 INSCHOOL Ambassadors were active and delivered, among others, video interviews broadcasted on social media, the INSCHOOL Website and local media outlets (Romania), and experts’ interviews published on online magazines (Slovak Republic). This helped to increase the awareness of the benefits of inclusive education and promote the project and inclusive education values locally.
- The “Index for Inclusion" was translated into Czech and Romanian languages, which enabled making the methodology more accessible for a wider range of stakeholders.
- The INSCHOOL Stocktaking Conference took place in June 2021 with over 100 project partners between policy makers and educational partners from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the Slovak Republic, as well as the Council of Europe and European Union representatives and experts. As a result, a reinforced political commitment to quality inclusive education and Roma issues was expressed. At the same time, lessons learned and suggestions and future actions for better impact were taken into account.
Achievements at policy level
At policy level, strong networks of support from the state authorities in all three countries were established. This was ensured through constant cooperation between the relevant state authorities, Council of Europe and its national experts, the European Commission, and other international actors to respond to specific needs identified at national level with targeted actions and interventions.
In the Czech Republic, apart from fruitful bilateral policy exchanges with INSCHOOL2’s main local interlocutor, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the national team has organized a series of meetings on education and social affairs with representatives of Ministries of relevance to Roma inclusion, such as the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry for Regional Development, as well as relevant Members of Parliament. As a result, INSCHOOL2 project managed to:
- Be recognized and utilised by local authorities and stakeholders as an inclusive education good practice together with its methodology;
- Inform of and promote with policy and legislative stakeholders the need for concentrate efforts in ensuring the introduction of practical and operational measures.
In Romania, where INSCHOOL2 has seen its most successful engagements at the policy level, the project was included in the mandate of the Commission on Desegregation within the Ministry of Education, as well as in discussions with the Presidential Administration. The second cycle the project has achieved:
- A new Ministerial Order was issued in 2019 by the Ministry of Education adopting the methodology on school segregation in preuniversity education. It comprises a wide range of indicators listed in the Index for Inclusion, INSCHOOL project’s methodology.
- A HighLevel Conference "I want to go to school! On the need for inclusive and quality education" and its four thematic debates were streamed by one of the main media broadcasters in Romania (over 430k views), as part of the project’s efforts in advocating for Quality Inclusive Education. It resulted in the Governing Plan adopted by the Romanian government in 2020 which includes priorities linked to equity in education and quality inclusive education.
In the Slovak Republic, constructive cooperation and synergies between the INSCHOOL2 national team and the State Secretary on Education have been particularly beneficial in the following areas:
- Data collection, analysis, and recommendations for improving distance education of Roma children within the current and future possible crises – the team of INSCHOOL experts has carried out a survey on the needs of teachers in relation to returning to school and “normal” educational classes. As a result, some main observations but also recommendations for specific actions were addressed with the Ministry to enable best response to the challenges faced.
- A working group on definition of school segregation methodology and developing procedures for desegregation of Roma students was established within the Ministry. This enables a potential legal framework for the detection and prevention of segregation in the country.