FORTH NEWS

European Partnership and Exposure in Europe

Maria Yarosh (University of Groningen, the Netherlands) Edurne Bartolomé Peral (University of Deusto, Spain) Elena Pacetti (University of Bologna, Italy), Paola Villano (University of Bologna, Italy), Aitziber Barrueta (InteRed, Spain)

Besides this, in the last year of the project, the EU partners were tasked with organizing “exposure experiences” in the EU for course writers and institutional and higher education authorities from the Philippines. The broad aim behind these visits was to let the Philippine partners get first-hand experience of educational projects in challenged areas and create opportunities for them to interact with practitioners and researchers who work with less advantaged population groups with the shared aim of allowing every person (child, adolescent or adult) who wants to pursue primary or secondary education to do so.

For University of Deusto, the initial reflection when designing the ‘exposure in Europe’, was to identify which schools, initiatives and experiences would address the main challenges in the local society, which might contribute as benchmarking and be relevant for the Philippine colleagues. Ethnic and cultural diversity and socioeconomic inequality were identified as main elements that could constitute a relevant input in this respect. Moreover, the visit was built around the desire to reflect on other experiences and initiatives that would transcend the regular formal schooling and would show different approaches of community involvement in the education of children in challenged areas. For the activities that took place at the university premises, the main goal was to share experiences and good practices with faculty and researchers, in order to exchange information on projects and create synergies across institutions and between the Philippine Universities and Spanish academics.

For University of Bolognia, it was important to present the challenges faced in the region (Emilia-Romagna), mostly related to inclusion (in Italy there are no special schools and students with disabilities go to mainstream schools), immigration (due to the high number of students of 1st and 2nd generation coming from abroad), multi grade classes (especially in the mountains), and teaching in plurilingual classes. Exchanging good practices between Italy and the Philippines was also an important aim of the visit. Moreover, it was deemed interesting to present the internationalization at UB - in teaching/learning, research and public engagement, as well as in the way in-service and pre- service teachers are trained. The schools visited in the challenged areas were selected among those with whom UB has been collaborating for over 15 years, gradually strengthening relations and developing action research initiatives, as well as inviting teachers from these schools to offer workshops to pre-service teachers pursuing their degrees at UniBo.

For University of Groningen, the focus was on inviting local researchers and teacher educators to engage in dialogue with partners from the Philippines and, similar to the other two universities, on selecting challenges that could be global, regardless of the Dutch context being seemingly very distinct from that of the Philippines. The challenges selected were those of a (total) loss of motivation causing children and adolescents to stay at home rather than go to school, of parents lacking basic (linguistic) competences to be able to support their children through the educational process, and of a drastic decline of employment opportunities in the area, which affects socio-economic status of the population groups and the perceived value of education.