static image

Month: November 2023

Bridging Communities in times of Crisis: Lessons from Poland

21-22 November, Warsaw

The crisis unfolding in Ukraine has had profound effects on the Republic of Poland. Almost two million people have crossed the border since February 2022, 960.000 of which are beneficiaries of temporary protection.

In response, Poland has enacted a Special legislation to assist Ukrainian citizens and grant them protection within its territory.

Under Article 31 of the Special Act, each refugee was allocated a single cash benefit worth PLN 300 to cover the cost of living – food, clothes, shoes, hygiene products and accommodation. Available data indicates that as of the 15 of November 2023, 1.294.814 people have received assistance. The total amount of these benefits is equivalent to approximately 90 million euro.

Complementary measures, activated with the support of official entities and non-governmental organizations, include the following areas:

  • free health services, such as psychological assistance and medical assistance;
  • social inclusion – active integration, emergency purchases from social economy entities;
  • education – preschool, general and vocational education, facilitated by intercultural assistants. This area also includes Polish courses for Ukrainian refugees, Ukrainian courses for Polish teachers, teaching materials, and digital tools.
  • labour market – professional placement, professional advice, training, internships, independent work. This area also includes places of care for children up to 3 years old;

During our permanence in Warsaw, we also visited two organizations providing support to vulnerable groups:

Punkt pod Parasolem (Food Bank), a non-governmental organization run by the SOS Food Bank in Warsaw and the Kuroniówka Foundation, providing food to children both and adults.

The Polish Women Can Do Everything Foundation, a non-profit organization helping children in difficult life situations. Activities include by supporting foster families, aiding day-care centres in smaller towns, and working to make children’s voices heard in legislation.

In addition to being a chance to experience the reality of the situation on the ground, these provided precious opportunities to interact with Ukrainian refugees, learn more about their day-to-day life in Poland, and their hopes and prospects for the future.

Hermínio Corrêa

BioBeo meeting in Warsaw

On 20/21 November 2023, the BioBeo consortium has met in Warsaw, Poland. Partners have presented their work, and the Advisory Board also provided supportive insight to help the development process. Parents International is in charge of ensuring parental engagement and also child participation at every step of the process of introducing a new and very relevant topic in school curricula: bioeconomy education.

Topics like education for sustainable development, inclusion, and the whole school approach / open schooling are very high on the EU’s education policy agenda. BioBeo is providing an education programme for all school levels as well as support for new governance and policy approaches involving all main stakeholders.

In the meeting, we presented what we have been developing on supporting and advocating for parental engagement and child participation in the governance and policy work package. Our work is based on research done on existing inspiring practices that are – as we expected – are scarce. We are aiming at shared leadership and decision-making to become a reality at all levels of policy making and governance from classroom to European level. We are also offering a training that will be available in the form of a manual by the end of 2023.

Subsequently, we have volunteered to develop parental engagement and child participation elements for the education programme, too. This is ready and available, and will be also part of the joint training of teachers held in Maynooth for partners implementing the programme in Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium, and will also be provided to German colleagues in a training organised collaboratively by the German partner, the University of Hohenheim and one of Germany’s most prestigious teacher training institutions, Ludwigsburg University.

The event also provided opportinities for discussing the organisation of the BioBeo Festival to be held on 15 March 2024 in Brussels, and the planned BioBeo Awards.

PARTICIPATE Doctoral Candidates meet for the first time

The Annual Meeting of the PARTICIPATE Doctoral Network held at the campuses of Dublin City University on 14-16 November 2023 offered the first opportunity for all 10 Doctoral Candidates to meet for the first time. The event was combined with a review by the Research Executive Agency, the financing authority of the network that provided an opportunity also for the Project Officer to give advice to the partners, the supervisors and the Doctoral Candidates themselves.

10 brilliant and enthusiastic young professionals presented their research plans on topics related to parents’ role in relation to cyberbullying. The candidates, all of them women – similarly to all but one supervisors -, come from all over the world, from Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Russia and China. They are conducting research in doctoral programmes in Greece, Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Finland, and one of them in a programme at Parents International.

In the coming 3 years, they will have plenty of opportunities to meet at winter and summer schools as well as network-wide trainings. The first such opportunities will be the winter school in Stavanger in February 2024 and an a 5-day training held at our premises in Amsterdam in March 2024.

Our own research fellow will work on the topical issue of bullying by teachers and parents, and the impact of this. It is a topic that we have planned to create more research evidence on for years given the research gap. The aim of this doctoral research project is also to develop a tool that will not be biased towards child-to-child bullying and thus will help schools to really explore the bullying situation in their institution, not just what is happening between children. We are also aiming to highlight that it is not only the bullied that are victims, but also bullies are usually holding traumas of being bullied.

Big Data, AI and Schools

On the 10th of November 2023 IPA has participated at an online event on Data for Teaching and Learning in Schools: Trends and Issues and brought the voice of parents to the table.

In January 2023, in the context of emerging artificial intelligence tools, European Schoolnet launched a new initiative on using educational data in schools, co-funded by Erasmus+: the Agile EDU project. The European Dialogue Lab was a half-day interactive online workshop based on group discussions. The event aimed to bring together European and international institutions, policy actors, research associations, and civil society. After the presentation of the project and the research conducted so far, the organizers explained the dialogue approach methodology.

We were then divided to groups, to discuss the following questions:

  • How are key concepts linked (‘data’, ‘datafication’, ‘data literacy’, etc) in your country or institution?
  • How can European and international actors support a better understanding of these key concepts and the relationships between them? 

In our input, we have highlighted schools’ lack of effort and expertise to provide age-appropriate explanations and consent forms for children and easy-to-understand forms for their parents on what type of data is collected in schools and for what purpose. European and international actors can play a key role by providing inspiring practices, guidelines, and training materials to support this effort.  The group discussions had rapporteurs presenting the conclusions in a plenary session.

Then we were divided to new groups to discuss:

  • What type of strategic planning is needed for schools, local authorities, central ministries to address datafication?
  • How can European and international actors support better strategic planning at the level of schools, local authorities, and central ministries?

In this session, we have focused on the strategic planning process and emphasized the need to involve stakeholders, including children and their families, from the early stages of strategic planning so that their agency is respected and, thus their understanding and support is gained. Only through this can data serve as a tool to improve education instead of exploiting the users. European and international actors can make recommendations and provide support in providing a methodology that allows strategic planning as a co-creation effort with the involvement of stakeholders. The group conversation outcomes were presented in plenary.

We were delighted to take part in this conversation and will contribute further collaborating with European Schoolnet. We will continue to advocate for the full respect of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, thus giving agency to children and their families in education and all matters concerning them.

Social Innovation Forum in Brussels

For two days, members of the five ESF+ (European Social Fund) Communities of Practice (CoPs) met in Brussels on 26-27 October 2023. Parents International, represented by Herminio Correa, member of the Sumervisory Board, participated in the CoP on Employment, Education and Skills.

The aim of the meeting was to:

– Build a common understanding of social innovation and social experimentation across European Member States.

– Identify synergies and cross-cutting topics among different Communities of Practice (CoPs) and remind them of the essential aim of the ESF+ Social Innovation+ Initiative: to scale up and transfer social innovations.

– Strengthen connections among different actors in the field of social innovation.

Two excellent presentations launched the discussion on the topic.

“What Would it Take to Tackle Today’s Societal Challenges” by Louis Vervloet from the ESF+ Managing Authority of Flanders, and

“Delivering on the Promises of Social Innovation” by Miquel de Paladella from UpSocial

followed by discussion panels with experts from different CoP’s.

As a complement to the program, each CoP held two workshops, to provide all participants the opportunity for practical and focused exploration of topics relevant to their respective CoPs, with the aim of promoting collaboration and idea generation within each thematic area, providing a tailored and immersive learning experience for participants.

Participants discussed their opinions and experiences on the challenges of cooperation between NGOs and public bodies (PES/municipalities) that work with integration into the labour market and training of vulnerable groups. They also discussed how to involve NGO’s in reaching out to vulnerable groups, how to finance NGO’s and monitor their work and how to decide which groups may benefit most from NGO’s services. In 2024, 54 new events are planned, 34 events of the CoPs & Networks and 20 events to support beneficiaries of EU level calls for proposal.


Parents Engage international pilot training

On the 16th, 17th and 18th of October, we had our pilot training for the Parents Engage project in the beautifully multicultural Palermo, Italy. It was an excellent opportunity to try out the teacher training handbook for the engagement of migrant families in school. With 23 participants from Lithuania, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Turkey, and Germany, we had a very intense three days of testing the materials developed by the project consortium. Considering the valuable feedback received, the handbook will be finalized in the coming days and made available to everyone in English, Dutch, Italian, Greek, Turkish, and German on the project website:

img 5898
Parents Engage international pilot training 3

Sometimes, schools struggle to find ways to support families with a migrant background meaningfully; most initial teacher training does not satisfactorily cover this topic, so we are glad to be able to offer this handbook to all teachers. This child- and parent-right-informed material provides theoretical background, practical suggestions, and self-reflection exercises for trainees. The training will be piloted by the consortium partners also in the local setting, in the local language, with the involvement of participants from the international pilot in Greece, Germany, Cyprus, Turkey, and Italy.