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Educational Cooperation for Disadvantaged Children and Adults (EDUCOOP)
Start date: Apr 30, 2013, End date: Jul 30, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The main objective of the project is to promote the integration of disadvantaged, mainly Roma pupils and adults. The implementation of the project will be done in a close cooperation between SZTE and UNS. The planned project is based on three pillars of main activities. The 1st pillar is the development of 5 different, but thematically linking program prackages for pre service teachers to be developed by a team of 15 HU and SRB experts. The packages will be built into the teacher training programs of 2 universities and trainings will be conducted at both sides with the participation of 150 people. The program packages and the trainings are introduced in details in the relevant ToR and syllabuses. The 2nd pillar is the Mentoring Program: HU and SRB pre-service teachers will provide support for 45-45 disadvantaged and Roma pupils. 2 educational best practices documents support the implementation of Mentoring Program and enable the adaptation of the Program in further towns. The 3rd pillar of the project is research of three area: 1. Examination of the mentoring process (by semi structured phenomenological interviews with the pre-service teachers and MP managers) to decrease the efficiency of mentoring and developed the description of best practice document. 2. Efficiency-analysis of the training materials (questionnaires and focus group discussions among pre-service teachers) to suit the program packages to the expectations of pre-service teachers. 3. Investigating and preparing a multiplication and sustainability study and strategy of the Mentoring Program, in order to provide the long-term sustainability ofthis best practice program. During the project, the joint cooperation will be realized, the products – except the strategy and reseach study – will be the results/outputs of common work. The project is in line with the objectives of the call, also with the directives of EU. Achievements: “Do you want to be my playmate?” – the well-known line from Dezso Kosztolányis poem, could easily become the motto of this project. Play is not only most conducive activity for learning and acquiring new skills, but also it is a way of socialization of human beings. Some children, unfortunately, hardly have opportunities to engage in playful activiities with their peers. Very early on, most of them face a life of exclusion, reflection and marginalization. unlike their peers, some of them can only dream of playing with colourful inks and crayons. The children from disadvantaged families barely finish elementary school and when they reach adulthood, their access to employment opportunities is limited. This, in turn, continues the circle of extreme poverty and disadvantage, and recycles it in the next generation. Yet, with inclusive practices at all levels of social life, this circle can end. By mapping specific challenges of a given social group one can make small steps towards profiiding suitable background support and devise methods that will help further the groups educational development. Over the course of the EDUCOOP project an intense cultural,educational and research interaction was created. Through a disadvantage compensating educational program the cross-border project partners actively promoted the social and educational integration of disadvantaged and Roma children. More than 100 people actively worked on the programme.The project was based on three pillars. First, experts developed training programmes which prepare university students to educate disadvantaged Roma children and adults. The experts of the University of Szeged and University of Novi Sad Teachers Training Faculty in Hungarian developed 5 different, but thematically linking program packages, which prepare the university students (pre-service teachers) to the education of disadvantaged and Roma children and adults. Regular professional workshops and meetings helped the mutual work of the experts and prepared the pre-service teachers, future mentors, to work with their mentees. The second pillar was the Mentoring Programme: 15-15 students (pre-service teachers) supported 45-45 disadvantaged and Roma pupils in Horgoš, Serbia, and in Szeged, Hungary. Main aim of the mentors was to help the social and academic development of the children. Three teachers supported the work of mentors in the institutions. Intense cooperation of teams in Hungary and Serbia ensured that the activities were regularly assessed and, if needed, adjusted, the experts from all involved institutions maintained regular consultations while the student mentors followed common programs in work with children on both sides of the border. The third pillar was research. The experts carried out an examination of the mentoring process to increase the efficiency of mentoring and develop the description of best practice. Efficiency-analysis of the training materials harmonized the program packages with the expectations of pre-service teachers. Investigating and preparing a multiplication and sustainability study and strategy of the Mentoring Program is expected to provide the long-term sustainability of this best practice program. The Mentoring Programme meant a lot to the pupils who benefited from it, but it should also be noted that it was a transformative experience for the number of mentors, and maybe it even changed their lifes and way of thinking. The project partners and experts involved have gained infialuable experiences through this project, and the participating institutions have already started preparations for the continuation of the program.
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