Youth House Vratsa
Education Bulgaria 2030
Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance
Two more partners are Education Without Backpacks (https://obr.education/) and Institute for Progressive Education Association http://www.progresivno.org/, leading educational innovators in Bulgaria.
We will empower the Vratsa Student Municipality Council to become an advocate for better education and inspire young people across Bulgaria. Through training and mentoring by the country’s leading NGOs in educational policy-making and innovation, the young members of the Council will acquire the skill set and capacity to identify problems in education and engage relevant stakeholders in civic dialogue about solutions, holding them accountable on concrete actionable steps.
Vratsa (municipality), Northwest Bulgaria.
The challenge this project addresses is the lack of skills and training opportunities for young people to empower them to be the driver of change and solutions for the problems in education their community tackles. Mainstream education doesn’t provide young people with the skills to work together, to identify problems, and to engage stakeholders and partners in finding their solutions. Despite having some formal tools for representation, including the Vratsa Student Municipality Council, youths have limited access to training opportunities that can empower them to effectively cooperate, plan, organize, measure their impact, attract stakeholders and policy-makers into an effective process of finding and implementing solutions for the education challenges in their community.
The key target group of the project are young people from Vratsa, aged 14 to 18, who rarely, if at all, have a say in the civic dialogue about educational issues, policies, and innovation. The project team will work with the Vratsa Student Municipality Council, whose young members are periodically elected by their peers from across the schools in the municipality to represent them locally. According to Martin Kerseiski, the Council chairperson, even though his team works very well with the Vratsa municipality, they haven’t had good opportunities to influence policies relevant to young people in more than five years. Nevertheless, the Council members have an ambition to tackle this gap in civil cohesion and are eager to receive the training and mentorship of the project team to that end.
The project team will:
1. Conduct 6 training workshops with the existing Vratsa Student Municipality Council to identify local educational problems, assess the needs of relevant stakeholders, arrive at root causes, design effective problem-solving approaches, target appropriate institutions, use state-of-the-art communication tools and techniques, and organize civic dialogue events. The workshops will be designed to develop the young participants’ 21st century skills and competences, with a focus on their creative problem-solving, collaboration, civic literacy, and digital/media literacy, and will deliver tailor-made information relevant in the field of education policies.
2. Mentor the Student Council in using the Design Thinking Method for assessing the needs of all relevant stakeholders and using these findings to arrive at solutions to educational problems.
3. Mentor the Student Council in conducting peer-to-peer training workshops and civic dialogue initiatives with students from Vratsa and from neighbouring rural areas, in order to multiply the empowerment of youth in the region and ensure the projects’ sustainability.
4. Mentor the Student Council in engaging all relevant stakeholders and state / municipal institutions in a major civic dialogue event, in which they offer their solutions and suggest concrete actionable steps to the appropriate authorities.
- The already active Vratsa Student Municipality Council - enhanced into a catalyst for change on educational issues relevant to young people in the region.
- The Council’s members - empowered and experienced to use state of the art methods to engage all relevant stakeholders in education, namely school mates,, parents, school staff, and decision-makers on a local and national level.
- A series of peer-to-peer training activities and civic dialogue events with young people, conducted by the Council.
- A major civic dialogue event, serving as a bridge between young people in Vratsa and the local and national governing bodies.
- Concrete actionable solutions to educational problems in Vratsa, suggested by young people to the relevant authorities.
We will use the peer-to-peer approach, so we will empower young people to engage other young people, as well as their parents, teachers, and other relevant stakeholders in arriving at working solutions. All partner organizations work with pupils and students, children and teenagers, so we know their strengths and potential. Most of them just need the proper environment and instruments, and could surprise any adult with great successes. We want to directly show, train, mentor them on how we, as some of the most established and experienced nonprofits, think tanks and experts in Bulgaria, engage and participate in educational policies at local and national level. Being their mentors, supporting them directly with contacts and knowhow, they will surprise us with comprehensive solutions!
All partner organisations were united in the planification and execution of the pre-election educational debate in March 2021. Having the event successfully finished we envisioned a student-led event where young people autonomously identify their field of intervention and are capable of engaging adults in a position of power in the solutions. Each partner has a unique educational expertise that will help the Youth Council thrive - IPE, “Dialogue for the future”- pre-election debate founding organisation, Edu2030 with experience in edu-policies monitoring and student parliament, Khan Bg in developing innovative and accessible educational content, Amalipe with a large partner school network in Vratsa region and ARC, with experience in developing programs for skills and digital literacy.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
1. Project management - €7000
2. Personnel costs (development of methodology, trainee and mentorship fees) - €14000
3. Travel and accommodation - €2000
4. Materials for trainings - €1500
5. Major civic dialogue event with local and national decision-makers - €4000
6. Publicity - €1500
7. Peer-to-peer training activities and civic dialogue events with young people - €5000
We aim at engagement with specific topics (around education) in specific communities. Any feedback or existing example on ways to engage young people in education policies and decision making would make us happy!