static image

Month: March 2021

Collaboration with Happiness Schools

Parents International has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Happiness Studies Academy headed by the world-famous Tal Ben-Shahar to support their Happier School Programme by offering training and coaching for parental engagement. The programme is built on the fact that children learn best when they are happy, but we have agreed that their is a need to convince parents about this before implementing their programme.

According to the Happier Schools Programme, for students to thrive and flourish in the fast-changing, ever-challenging, world, they need to learn more than reading, writing and arithmetic, more than science, art and the humanities. It is no less important that they learn to find a sense of purpose, take care of their physical wellbeing, learn to grow from failure and hardship, nurture healthy relationships, as well as deal with painful emotions and cultivate pleasurable ones. These skills and abilities will contribute to students’ overall psychological wellbeing—both making them happier, as well as playing a preventative role, making the present and future onset of mental health issues less likely. Additionally, students will perform better academically and, later, professionally.

Designing and preparing the implementation of such an innovative programme is hard work in the school. So, why bother engaging with parents while this is a classroom programme? Why is it not enough to send them a notice before you start or even just invite them to see results after a few weeks or months? We are using the well-known initiative that totally failed first because they thought parents do not matter: the healthy school meals programme by Jamie Oliver, the world-famous chef in the United Kingdom to give an answer to this.

The module developed is aiming at offering methods and strategies for schools that had made a decision to implement the Happier School Programme. Teacher are given guidance on every step of the programme implementation process in a number of training modules. Our training module is inviting teachers to think along and find the best way to have the parents on board. When designing this module we assumed that you are implementing the Happiness School Programme mostly for children who have been attending your school, and you are introducing something new. We are challenging teachers to considere what the parents will think about the programme and what to do if their parenting practices are hindering their work in the field. The activities in this module will help them to ensure the success of their work as a Happier School teacher by the support of parents. The module is designed bearing in ming that all school communities are different, so teachers are encouraged have to find their own solutions while all individual solutions are shared to inspire others.


Teacher Training Courses in Partnership with Europass Teacher Academy

Parents International has partnered with Europass Teacher Academy, the largest organisation offering trainings for in-service teachers to offer courses on teacher-parents partnerships. This is a topic that was not on their palette before. In the framework of the partnership, we are offering 5-day in-person courses for local as well as international groups of teachers regularly starting in early May 2021. The trainings will primarily will take place in the Netherlands and Hungary, but we are happy to train teachers wherever it suits you best. We are also offering an online certificate course that will be live and available in the coming days.

The year of school closures has put a larger than ever emphasis on teacher-parent collaboration. Parents started better understanding and appreciating the work of teachers, and teachers became more motivated to consider parents and caregivers as partners.

This course helps teachers identify successful strategies and methods for maintaining an active collaboration with parents and for improving their partnerships.

As a participant, you will be supported to better understand your own attitudes towards parents as partners and identify elements that can promote collaboration. You will also dive into some literature showing the benefits of engaging with parents, and we will bust some myths about “hard-to-reach” parents. Finally, you will discover strategies for more effective learning at home, that can in turn support the learning of children at school.

By the end of the course, you will have participated in self-reflection activities for individual work and for working with peers and parents. You will have acquired novel practical ideas and you will be able to refer to background readings to improve your relationships with your students’ parents. You will begin to see parents and caregivers in a new light: they will have turned into helpful allies in promoting the wellbeing and learning of your students.

The course will help the participants to:

  • Understand the role of parents in the learning of their children.
  • Understand children’s and parents’ rights.
  • Bust the myths of “hard-to-reach” parents.
  • Learn more about the difference between involvement and engagement.
  • Identify their own attitudes towards parents and potential obstacles to partnering with them.
  • Build their own partnership strategy and methodology for successful parental engagement.

Details of the 5-day course can be found here:

Attempting to boost the value of parenting skills in the labour market in Europe

The European Commission (EC) launched the so-called Pact for Skills in November 2020. Parents International had applied to join the pact and the application has just been approved. The initiative is a central element of the European Skills Agenda, aiming to address skills mismatches and shortages to enable labour market participation. The initiative resonates with the main reason Parents International had been active in the skills field and was also eager to launch the ParENTrepreneurs project: skills and competences gained and developed through parenting are valuable for the labour market, but we need to find ways to validate them. The outcomes of ParENTrepreneurs will be used in our work within the initiative.

According to the press release by the EC “skills are central to our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and for mastering the digital and green transitions. Businesses, large and small, need skilled people to innovate and grow. Yet, mismatches and shortages in skills are increasing, while a large number of people are at risk of unemployment. Only by joining the forces of all relevant partners can we make substantial progress in meeting Europe’s skills needs.

The Pact for Skills promotes joint action to maximise the impact of investing in improving existing skills (upskilling) and training in new skills (reskilling). It calls on industry, employers, social partners, chambers of commerce, public authorities, education and training providers and employment agencies to work together and make a clear commitment to invest in training for all working age people across the Union.”

By joining the action, organisations pledge to shall respect and uphold the following key principles:

  • Promoting a culture of lifelong learning for all
  • Building strong skills partnerships
  • Monitoring skills supply/demand and anticipating skills needs
  • Working against discrimination and for gender equality and equal opportunities

Parents International has been highlighting the multitude of skills and competences built while parenting in a number of fields – in education, care, project management, financial management just to name a few. The year of school closures has also boosted parents’ digital skills as they were pushed to homeschool their children navigating digital mazes set by teachers. Acknowledging this and making it possible for parents to use these skills for future jobs is clearly an answer to the original aims. A number of successful enterprises built on the “home” skills of low skilled adults clarly show the value of this approach and thus we are promoting them as much as possible.

Parenting is a lifelong learning journey and needs to be acknowledges as one. Parents as the most impacting educators of their children also act as a role model of lifelong learning for the upcoming generations. We have also built partnerships with vocational training as well as industry in the past years and we are determined to widen this in the future, also using the leverage of the initiative. By putting parenting skills in the spotlight we are working hard on the monitoring supply element of the pact. Parenting skills can be mostly utilised by mothers on the labour market. By promoting this approach, we are showing a way to offer women, especially those with little formal education, opportunities of successful career thus supporting gender equality and equal opportunities. This way we have and will promote the key principles of the Pact for Skills.

ParENTrepreneurs, offering a competence framework, a training to systematise these competences and a tool to validate and recognise them, is a strong and important vehicle in this. Parents International will continue promoting a similar framework in all areas and domains of parenting. We hope that by joining the Pact for Skills, we will have the opportunity to further develop such frameworks, preferably together with industry to ensure we speak their language, but we also hope EU funding will be made available for this.

World NGO Day 2021

Challenges facing NGOS in Conflict and Post-Conflicts Situations – Highlights

On 26 February, the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe organised a webinar entitled ‘Challenges Facing NGOs in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations’ to celebrate World NGO Day and pay tribute to the work of civil society that is focused on Human Rights, reconciliation, and the Rule of Law, in conflict and post-conflict settings.  As a Member of the Conference, Herminio Correa represented Parents International at this interesting event.

Unresolved conflicts continue to affect certain parts of the European continent, putting at risk the safety, unity and democratic governance of societies and threatening the populations concerned, including NGOs. The Council of Europe must contend with such situations. In these territories NGOs contribute significantly by documenting all kinds of human rights violations, bringing them to light, caring for victims and assisting them in seeking justice. While certain information about the human rights situation in these regions is publicly available, little is known about the situation about civil society and NGOs, the environments they operate in and the challenges they are confronted with.

The last two decades have seen NGO’s staff, individual activist, lawyers, journalists being harassed, threatened, abused, tortured, and outright assassinated. In areas of armed conflict, persons collaborating with foreign organizations, included the most recognized humanitarian NGO’s, are exposed to the risk of prosecution for espionage. The lives and safety of people involved in the work of peace-building NGO’s are also frequently at risk, the authorities either targeting them directly or allowing very vehement discourse against them, thus favouring violent actions.

Conflict situations are also those that NGOs encounter when operating in polarized societies. Growing polarization within societies in Council of Europe member States is endangering democracy and the rule of law in Europe. In political debates, extreme groups amplify the tensions within communities that operate in a hostile climate marked by hate speech, negative stereotypes and prejudices addressed towards the “other side”.

Children and youth represent the majority of the population in most countries affected by armed conflicts and are thus disproportionately affected by war. Their suffering bears many faces – they are recruited as child soldiers, are killed and maimed, deprived of education and health care, and separated from their families.

Sexual violence is increasingly a characteristic of conflict with detrimental long-term.

psychological effects on children and youth.


Since several years, civil society groups, NGO’s and INGO’s play an important role in the in the defence of Human Rights and Children’s Rights and in peace building transitional justice and reconciliation efforts on the territories affected by diverse conflicts.

The welcome to the webinar was given by Anna RURKA, President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, and the introduction was made by the keynote speaker.

Clément NYALETSOSSI VOULE, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association.

This webinar had two panels:

1st Panel: CIVIL SOCIETY in the context of armed conflict and post conflict situations.


Arzu ABDULLAYEVA (Helsinki Citizens Assembly), who spoke about the conflict between Afghanistan and Armenia that has lasted for over 30 years and that has caused profound damage on both sides.

Kety ABASHIDZE (Human Rights House Foundation), who described the situation in Georgia.

Ion MANOLE (Promo Lex), who described the situation in Moldavia.

Sasha ROMANTSOVA (Center for Civil Liberties), who described the situation in Ukraine (Crimea)

Anna SEVORTIAN (EU-Russia Civil Society Forum who described the situation in Russia.

Krenare GASHI KRASNIQI (Regional Youth Cooperation Office – RYCO), who spoke about the conciliation process in the West Balkans (Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia)

Rory TRUELL (International Federation of Social Workers), who spoke about the importance of the work of social workers.

Isuf HALIMI (European Center for Human Rights), who spoke about the issue of respect for human rights in these conflicts.

Laila AIT BAALI (Wo=Men who spoke about the situation of women in conflicts.

2nd Panel: When violence is a part of public life – Civil Society and top-down polarization.


Wielie ELHORST (European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups – EFLGBTCG), Tezcan ERALP ABAY (Association of Civil Society Development Centre – STGM), Ana KOTUR-ERKIC (European Network on Independent Living – ENIL), Goran MILETIC (Civil Rights Defenders), Mirela RAJKOVIC – SEEYN), Piotr SADOWSKI (Volonteurope), Nick VAN DER STEENHOVEN (Choose Love), Alfonso ZARDI (Pax Christi International), Beata ZWIERZYNSKA (Education in Action).

Where each speaker addressed the issue of this panel from the point of view of its specific area of intervention.

The session was closed by Christoph SPRENG – Vice President of the Conference of INGOs.