The Opening press conference of the project KEEP STEP: Education of Roma children and youth for the sustainable development of the community (O)DRŽI KORAK: Obrazovanjem romske djece i mladih do održivog razvoja zajednice) was held on 25th March 2019 in the premises of Koprivnica-Križevci County. The Lead Beneficiary (Applicant) of the project is the Roma Association Step by Step (Udruga Roma Korak po Korak), and the Beneficiaries (project partners) are Elementary School Fran Koncelak Drnje, Elementary School “Antun Nemčić Gostovinski” Koprivnica, Open Academy “Step by Step” from Zagreb, Public library „Fran Galović“ in Koprivnica and Koprivnica-Križevci County. The project is co-financed by the Office for Cooperation with NGOs of the Government of the Republic of Croatia through the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Programme.
Journalists of Croatian Radio Television (HRT), Varaždin Television (VTV), Voice of Podravina and Prigorje (Glas Podravine i Prigorja), portal Prigorski.hr, Klikaj.hr, epodravina.hr and others attended the press conference.
The Opening press conference, along with the Applicant and project partners, were also attended by Deputy Mayor of the City of Koprivnica Melita Samoborec, representatives of the Town of Đurđevac, Director of the Social Welfare Centre Koprivnica Danijel Rušak, Director of the Public Health Institute of Koprivnica-Križevci County dr.sc. Draženka Vadla, Director of the Elementary School Braća Radić Krešo Grgac, President of the Association of persons with disabilities “Better Tomorrow” of the City of Koprivnica ( Udruge osoba s invaliditetom „Bolje sutra“ Grada Koprivnice) Marija Mraz, representatives of the Roma communities from Koprivnica-Križevci County and other counties, as well as representatives of several other institutions, associations and local self-government units.
Ms Cansu Ünal from the Turkish Agency for Cooperation and Coordination – TIKA was also present at the Opening press conference. Although TIKA is not a part of this project, they have come to support the efforts of the Roma Association Step by Step to improve the working and living conditions of the Roma people in this area.
Ms Renata Osrečki, representative of UNICEF in Croatia, also attended the Opening press conference of the project. UNICEF in Croatia has contributed to this project by organizing a two-day workshop for the members of the Association and their partners in November 2017 in order to help the potential applicants prepare the project proposal for the forthcoming call for proposals of the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Programme.
“The goal of the project is to equalize and enable Roma children to keep up with the quality of their education at schools as much as possible, and the parents and teachers will also be involved in the process,” said the Deputy prefect of the County Mr Ratimir Ljubić.
In his address, the President of the Association, Franjo Horvat, thanked the Turkish Co-operation and Coordination Agency – TIKA on the donation of a van for transporting Roma children with disabilities. He also thanked all the five project partners for their active participation at every phase of the project.
On behalf of the project partners Gordana Gazdić Buhanec, the Principal of the Elementary School “Antun Nemčić Gostovinski” Koprivnica addressed the participants and said: “This is a project that will strengthen the whole community, given the number of Roma pupils in our area. For many years we have been conducting various activities and workshops to facilitate their education. This project is a big one for all of us, covering all the areas that we need to touch while working with Roma children. Teachers will gain competencies that they did not have. The door is wide open, and the outcome is expected to be as we have planned it.”
Project activities were presented by the Project manager Shahidul Islam, who pointed out that the project was approved through the Call for proposals “Strengthening the Contribution of Civil Society Organisations in Sustainable Development Education for the Improvement of Economic and Social Cohesion”, announced within the framework of the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Programme.
The aim of the project is to promote an inclusive and just society that respects the cultural diversity of Roma people and creates equal opportunities for their integration into the society. The specific goal of the project is to contribute to the better opportunities for Roma children to get quality education and integrate into the society in Koprivnica-Križevci County, with the aim of sustainable development of our society in general.
Planned activities for educational staff and other professionals are:
– ‘Living the diversity – Education for social justice’ – a four-day education aimed at understanding social relationships and being aware of stereotypes and prejudices as limitations to personal and professional growth, as well as to see how socio-economic starting positions affect education, employment and success in life.
– ‘Education about diversity and teaching children whose mother tongue is not Croatian’ – a two-day training aimed at developing the competencies of teachers to create a multi-cultural environment for learning and teaching children whose mother tongue is not Croatian or children who speak Roma Bayash language at home.
– ‘Partnership with families’ – education for teachers and professional associates, which will contribute to a better quality of education and integration of Roma children and youth in the community in the Koprivnica-Križevci County.
Planned activities for pupils are:
– ‘Incentive parenting’ – the program is implemented by teachers educated to conduct the ‘Incentive parenting’ programme. A total of 15 workshops will be held for parents and children intended for the development of the parents and school partnership. The activities will help develop children’s pre-maths and pre-reading skills. The workshops will help parents learn to create a stimulating learning environment at home.
– The programme “Jump on board the train for a better world” consists of two parts: Educational cultural activities and Bibliographic activities. As parts of the Educational cultural activities, dancing, musical, painting, story-telling, circus art and robotics workshops will be held. Bibliographic activities will take place in the form of an educational and entertaining walk around the library. The programme will be implemented by the Public library “Fran Galović” Koprivnica.
The direct beneficiaries of the project are 240 pupils of the Elementary School Fran Koncelak Drnje, 60 pupils of the Elementary School “Antun Nemčić Gostovinski” Koprivnica, 30 teachers and professional associates from the partner schools and 10 members and volunteers from the Roma Association Step by step.
It is expected that 30 teachers and professional associates will gain an understanding of the dynamics of creating and influencing stereotypes and prejudices towards vulnerable groups. It will develop competencies to change the school environment in order to create equal opportunities for each child. Participants will develop competencies for working with children who do not speak Croatian at home.
The total value of the project is 491,470.66 HRK, and the amount of the approved grant is 442,323.59 HRK. The implementation of the project starts on 1st March 2019 and it lasts for 12 months.
At the end of the formal part of the project presentation the participants and guests exchanged their impressions over some light refreshments.