DESCRIPTION OF CONTENTS
The educational product is a European funded multilateral project mid-report. It concerns the SMILE project (Supporting Multicultural Integration and Learning). SMILE partners represent educational and vocational institutions from Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Romania, Sweden, and Switzerland. SMILE is a European Grundtvig project, running from November 2008-October 2010, which aims at providing support to early childhood institutions who work with migrant families in order to support their social integration.
The project aims at developing the intercultural competences of professionals working in services for families with children in early ages; favouring the integration of 0 to 6 years old children of first-generation immigrant parents and of their families in the host country and cultures; raising awareness of pre-school children’s parents; and promoting the education of immigrant parents.
The Report highlights the products achieved during the first year of the multilateral project, namely:
- a research report on “Level of integration of foreign children in the services for children in early age and on the level of communication and understanding with parents” which analyses diverse political and social contexts and gives examples of best practice;
- a Handbook for Evaluating the level of application of an intercultural approach of multicultural services for families and children and to evaluate the real intercultural competencies of educators working in such services;
- a training course curriculum on ‘Application of the intercultural approach in the running of services for families and children in early ages” for animators, educators, trainers, teaching coordinators and managers of social enterprises and services for families and children, as well as parents. The course promotes intercultural competences, active citizenship and integration in local communities. As teaching support there is a Manual for trainers, which is not yet available at the time of the report publishing.
- and a website (www.smilellp.eu), which is not available.
COMMENTS ON THIS PUBLICATION
The European funded multilateral SMILE project, as described in this report aims at providing support to those that work in adult education with parents of children aged 0 to 6 years old in immigration contexts. The project SMILE focuses on training educators with transversal competences, flexibility, intercultural and relational competences.
The structure of the report is clear and concise and it gives a good idea of the efforts to be pursued through educational and training systems to integrate immigrant populations through strengthening active citizenship, equal opportunities and social cohesion. The project shows awareness that cooperative projects are needed which consolidate integration initiatives from different areas like education, labour market, culture and sport. It calls attention to one particular sensitive point to promote integration of immigrant families, which is language improvement in kindergartens and primary schools and language courses for mothers, besides other activities of informal education.
As it is a clear mid-project report it is valuable as best practice to understand how multilateral projects can be planned and coordinated, organized through work packages and put into place coordinating, management and cooperative strategies that guarantee that all partners are fruitfully involved and contribute to the project the best of their expertise.
The main transferability potential of the project is the intercultural approach to the early age services through the training of people who work with 0-to 6 years old children and parents from immigrant backgrounds. The teaching manual as well as reports may be of interest to those interested in developing similar projects.
Another transferability potential concerns the involvement of social cooperatives with managing bodies, schools and associations for social development working together for a common purpose. In this case, Co&So Firenze, who are the promoters of the project, are a consortium of social cooperatives, some of which manage services for children in the early ages (0-6 years); NINIT Developments if a regional body involved in management of European projects, Luoghi per srescere provides services for children, Fundatia Ecologica Green (FEG) is a private Romanian organization of kindergartens and schools; The European University of Cyprus is a higher education institution; and the Uppsala Kommun/Vuxenutbildningen – Care and Education (UVB) is and adult training institution, in 120 different languages and half of its student population is immigrant.
The points of strength of this report are the solutions presented and previewed to guarantee a successful integration of immigrants and their children in the educational and training systems. The main solution envisaged is the strengthening of adult education activities through the training of trainers and social workers with the abilities, tools and methods that will ensure greater social cohesion and active participation of immigrants in local communities. One other solution envisaged is the gearing of the intercultural approach to early childhood education and to services for families and children (first generation immigrants). Although there are several materials developed for the intercultural education of pre-school children and their trainers, the inclusion of the training for those, such as social workers, tutors and others, who work with children’s an families’ services has a more innovative character to it. One particular point of interest highlighted by the report is that intercultural education is more effective if it occurs informally among people who originate in different countries and cultures, i.e. involving the immigrant parents and children own contributions and competences.
This maximizes the effectiveness of the educational activities, contributes to the empowerment and the integration of some first-generation immigrant adults and promotes a culturally more complex learning for all involved (immigrants and local people).