Summary of the 1st day of NEPC Primary Colors of Education conference
The 5th NEPC Primary Colors of Education Conference was opened on Wednesday, December 1st. First day was focused on the ultimate and always out of reach goal, and that is inclusion in education, topic that is always actual, in the NEPC region and beyond.
The conference was opened by Ulviyya Mikailova, NEPC governing board president who welcomed all the participants and speakers in front of the Network.
Opening of the conference was followed by the keynote opening speech by Lana Jurko, NEPC executive director, presenting the overview of the progress of the inclusion process in the region, pointing out it’s major shortages and offering guidance for the areas that require more efforts in the future, such as preservice education of teachers and diversity of teachers, insufficient support personnel in the education system. Lana pointed out that COVID 19 crisis showed us how teachers are essential workers and major agents of change in the education and we have to support them to be champions of the inclusion while also acknowledging that among the teacher force there are also barriers that have to be addressed trough advocacy.
In the following panels, six projects and initiatives of NEPC and NEPC members were presented, all having strong focus on inclusion but addressing it from different levels and approaching different target groups.
In the first panel, Emergency funds: Different responses to crisis, topic of discussion was mitigating the effects of the pandemic on the education systems. As the implementation of the distance learning during the lockdown was one of the newly risen issues, it required more comprehensive exploration which resulted in data driven comparative study conducted by Centre for Education Policy. Moreover, school drop-out, that became even more significant and relevant issue during the pandemic, was addressed through the nudging technique intervention currently being piloted in Estonia. Finally, students participation, important right that was(is) severely endangered during the pandemic was addressed in Mongolia through the initiative that empowers students’ voice.
In the second panel, Tackling inequality and fostering inclusion: Is participation the key?, the issue of inequality and reaching inclusion in the education was discussed through the experiences from the implementation of the projects with strong participation and policy dimensions that target different groups. Trough the ARISE – Action for Reducing Inequalities in Education project, the overview of the obstacles for inclusion and equality on the systemic level (Comparative report) was provided and the importance of involving not only education stakeholders but also the community was revealed. Moreover, the inevitable significance of the competent school leaders for the inclusive and democratic school culture was emphasised by the experiences from the HEAD: Empowering School Principals for Inclusive School Culture project (Report on school principals’ needs). Finally, trough the Start the Change – Intercultural Education and Active Citizenship Actions to Prevent Radicalization project, inspiring initiatives and activities that empower students’ voices based on the students’ needs were shared.