Social partnership at the unesco associated schools in Estonia
Olga Nagibina Narva Soldino Gümnaasium, Estonia
At the moment, in Estonia there are 20 schools working within ASPnet: 3 associated schools and 17 candidates. Our aim is to give students opportunities to develop tolerance and democracy and our priorities are global education, multiculturalism and sustainable development in the Baltic region.M
In November 2010 Estonia participated in Global Education Week when politicians, members of the Parliament and other statesmen visited schools and gave lessons to students on various subjects. Estonian schools are often visited by the volunteers from different countries working in the frame of EU Programme ‘Youth in Action’. They tell students about possibilities of studying abroad in the frame of the Erasmus programme and voluntary work. As well as this, some schools involve parents in educational process in the frame of the project ‘A parent is also a teacher’ - parents come to school and give master classes for various disciplines: hairdressing, design, cooking etc.
In May-June 2011 Estonian UNESCO schools will participate in two big events. The first is Simulation of the United Nations General Assembly: the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals. The school teams will play the roles of the diplomats from different countries and their aim is to suggest a solution to a particular social problem really existing in ‘their’ country, e.g. violence, gender inequality, AIDS etc. The second event is Students Science Conference on the Millennium Development Goals.
One of the areas of learning and development in Narva Soldino Gümnaasium is integration to the world community through the European Union, so multiculturalism is an actual issue for us. We are a school with Russian language of instruction and Narva is a town where 97 per cent of population are Russian-speaking. Definitely, in these circumstances our students and teachers need special environment to develop Estonian language skills, so for several years we have been collaborating with Rapla Vesiroosi Gümnaasium, the school with Estonian language of instruction, whose students learn Russian. We exchange students and organize different events together.
Narva is a multicultural town, a home town for citizens of 37 states, representatives of 74 nationalities and native speakers of 46 languages. On 21 February 2011 our school celebrated International Mother Language Day. We invited representatives of Chuvash, Polish, Tatar and Ukrainian communities who introduced their national traditions and language to the students and teachers. The festival has become one of the most memorable events of the school year.
Estonia is a European Union member state and we benefit a lot from it. The most popular European educational programmes are Comenius, Pestalozzi and eTwinning. Comenius unites 33 European states. If a teacher or a school has interesting ideas for an international project, they should find at least two partners from other memeber states and apply to their national agency. Estonian schools widely use this opportunity. If the project is approved, it is financed and implemented. After completing the project the school may start a new one in two years. Narva Soldino Gümnaasium participated in Comenius project in 2007-2009. Together with our partner schools from Germany, Greece, Romania and Turkey we published a book of essays and short stories the students wrote in English and German languages, which is now used as a teaching aid. As well as this, students had a great opportunity to visit the partner countries, learn about their culture and traditions and make new friends. One can read the electronic version of our book at http://www.soldino.edu.ee/pildid/6/601/raamat.pdf
We have already applied for a new Comenius project and hope that our national agency will approve of it.
Together with other Baltic states Estonia participates in the Baltic Sea Project (BSP). Its objectives are to increase the awareness of the students about the environmental problems in the Baltic Sea area and to give them an understanding of the scientific, social and cultural aspects of the interdependence between man and nature. Estonian schools have an opportunity to take part in nine educational programmes in the frames of the BSP: Water quality in the Baltic Sea, Rivers, BSP Coast Watch, Air Quality, Phenological studies, Bird Ecology, Environmental History, Oicosophy and Environmental Measurements.
A powerful tool for social partnership is a school site. By 27 April 2011 Narva Soldino Gümnaasium web page www.soldino.edu.ee had been visited by 35 countries from Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and Australia. Our site is both informative and educational, there one can get information about current events and closed projects, read the virtual newspaper issued by our students, enter e-school and learning environment Moodle.