Our key participation at the panel sessions of the International Knowledge Week on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access, 8-11.05.2023, at Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Erasmus University Rotterdam (a key partner of the Bulgarian Inclusion Support Team) has been working on the fundamental topics of inclusion, diversity, equity and access for more than seven years. Their dedicated and institutionalized IDEA Center now consists of more than 20 specialists that develop and execute our institutional and integral approach on inclusion, diversity, equity and access. The IDEA Center has taken on a pioneering role, nationally and in Europe helping initiate IDEA-structures at universities, disseminating our knowledge and expertise.
During the week, various national and international speakers – including Prof. Lina Gálvez Muñoz (European Parliament), Alfred Herrera (University of California, Los Angeles), Prof. Eveline Crone (Erasmus University Rotterdam – EUR), Fanny Passeport (Education Development Officer at Erasmus X, EUR) & Dr. Dirk Deichmann (Associate Professor, EUR) and our CEO Mr. Andrean Lazarov – together with academicians, researchers, PhD students and disability organisation representing participants shared practical insights and knowledge on topics such as (academic) outreach, student engagement, inclusive education & Universal Design for Learning, inclusive HR, inclusive communication and monitoring & research.
During the panel workshop “Integrating Universal Design for Learning into your course” we have presented the recent development in the field of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is an approach that allows instructors to proactively design their course content and pedagogical strategies to anticipate a wide range of needs. Rather than seeing students as ‘average’, they are considered as ‘variable’. By acknowledging and welcoming diversity, instructors adopt a pluralistic approach that honors learning differences. When applying UDL, the instructor provides multiple ways of engagement, representation, and action & expression. Concrete examples from EUR applications (and reflections) in a ‘Design Thinking’ course at RSM (in fall 2022) and contributions from the Bulgarian inclusion support team recent and past development were presented. The concept and expected results of the recent VISAGE4JOBS project were disseminated to the audience.
More information and detailed programme is available here: https://www.eur.nl/en/research/information-form-idea-international-knowledge-week/idea-international-knowledge-week-wednesday
Our participation at TRANSVAL-EU European conference in Paris, France
Our team was invited to participate as key speaker during the plenary sessions at the European conference “Transversal Skills for Work and Life: Strengthening Guidance and Validation” which was held between 18-19 April 2023 in Paris, France.
The main aim of the conference was to build bridges between research, policy and practice for guidance and validation of transversal competences in Europe. Both in work settings and in daily life, there is a growing need for individuals to develop high-level competences to address complex challenges. Transversal competences set the foundation for personal development, resilience, the ability to communicate and work constructively with others, problem-solving, and the ability to manage one’s learning and career. Yet transversal competences are not always valued or made visible in guidance and validation processes for disadvantaged learners.
The ongoing TRANSVAL-EU project — co-financed by Erasmus+ KA3 Policy Reform – Policy Experiments coordinated by OeAD, Austrian Agency for Education and Internationalization (Austrian National Agency of Erasmus+ programme) – one of the largest policy experimentations in Europe — aimed to bridge this gap in guidance and assessment in validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNFIL). The TRANSVAL-EU research conference provided opportunities for researchers to share and discuss state-of-the-art research in the field of validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNFIL) of transversal skills, including in conference panels, workshops, and a networking reception.
VISAGE4JOBS project and its results was disseminated during the workshops.
Two-days training on the topic: “Career guidance and presentation of knowledge and skills for success in high school – a step forward to a successful career” – 4-5 April 2023, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
On 04-05/04/2023, our team was invited as key trainers during the training workshop named: “Career guidance and presentation of knowledge and skills for success in high school – a step forward to a successful career”. The event is part of the European year of skills events, organised by the Human resource development centre, Europass Bulgaria, Euroguidance Bulgaria and the National Expert Team on VET in Bulgaria.
The training was opened by Mrs. Antoineta Pakova, head of the Regional educational directorate – city of Plovdiv. Our team presented modern methods and advised students from prestigious VET schools in Plovdiv area under the scope and training deliverables developed by the VISAGE4JOBS initiative.
Special attention was also paid to the role of verbal and non-verbal communication during a job interview. We shared examples with the participants proving the importance of every young person being aware of their career path at the very first stages of their professional training.
Keep an eye on our page for upcoming trainings.
Our project was disseminated during the National Career Days 2023 in Sofia, Bulgaria
The Bulgarian Inclusion Support Team was among the participants at the National Career Days 2023 at the first event, which was held on 1st April 2023 at Grand Hotel “Millennium” Sofia. Students and young people including people with disabilities were able to talk with our key experts in the field of career counselling of young people with disabilities and those with Roma origin.
We have demonstrated the concept of our main results from the initiative under Erasmus+ programme called VISAGE4JOBS: “Pre-employment programme and toolkit to foster job preparation skills of low skilled and marginalized students to enhance their employment opportunities upon completion of the school” . Some of the participants will take part in the forthcoming piloting phase.
Discussion about the impact of VISAGE4JOBS project with the President of Republic of Turkey – Mr.Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
The International students of our partner, the Turkish school Uluslararası Şehit Mehmet Karaarslan Kiz Anadolu Imam Hatip Lisesi, Istanbul, Turkeye have met on 22.02.2023 with the President, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and informed him about the VISAGE4JOBS and their activities in Turkiye. The students explained their great satisfaction to be part of this project thanks to the Erasmus+ programme.
Meeting with the Mayor of the Zeytinburnu region, Istanbul, Turkeye
On 20 February 2023, the team of WINSS met with the mayor of Zeytinburnu region, Mr.Murat Aydın. This region of Istanbul has the most marginalized community, and WINSS’ President Mrs. Figen Sekin gave information about the Project outcomes. The Mayor informed about their Municipalities activities with regards to Vocational Educational Training Courses; Language Courses, Sport Activities, Inclusion actions etc. Further collaboration actions were negotiated.
Interviews with foreign students were held in Istanbul, Turkeye
WINSS team has organised a meeting on 12.02.2023, where their staff interviewed foreign students who are studying Turkish in order to find a job in Turkeye. The trainers from WINSS provided career guidance tips and provided general information about the project outputs. The trainers informed them about our project outcomes and have negotiated to include them in the forthcoming piloting phase.
Cluster training activity with Kocasinan Vocational High school, Istanbul, Turkey
Together, both Turkish partners organised dedicated meeting on 11.02.2023 with important stakeholders – the students and teachers from Kocasinan Vocational High school and they hosted our students in their school and discussed the Project activities together. They will participate in the piloting with the students from Uluslararası Şehit Mehmet Karaarslan Kiz Anadolu Imam Hatip Lisesi, Istanbul, Turkeye.
Discussion about the project with the Minister of Education of Turkey Mr. Mahmut Özer
Refugee students from our partner, the Turkish school Uluslararası Şehit Mehmet Karaarslan Kiz Anadolu Imam Hatip Lisesi, Istanbul, Turkeye have met on 01.02.2023 with the Minister of education in Turkey Mr. Mahmut Özer and informed him about our school projects especially about how the Visage4Jobs helped them for labour market preparation thanks to the Erasmus+ programme.
First training seminar organised by the Turkish school Uluslararası Şehit Mehmet Karaarslan Kiz Anadolu Imam Hatip Lisesi, Istanbul, Turkeye
The first training seminar was organised on 17 January 2023 by our partner, the Turkish school Uluslararası Şehit Mehmet Karaarslan Kiz Anadolu Imam Hatip Lisesi, Istanbul, Turkeye. The School Director Mr. Abdülbaki Murat discussed about the Project outcomes and explained the forthcoming implementation steps of the Project. The meeting concluded with agreement on action plan for the piloting phase.
Online meeting with the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce
The team of WINSS, Turkeye have participated an online meeting with the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce and we have discussed about how we could cooperate during the pilot trainings and the inclusion of disadvantaged people into the labour market. We have Informed the participants about our project outcomes and they gave their feedback. WINSS discussed possible sign of a memorandum of cooperation and to involve them as mentors in the piloting phase to ensure organisation of job interviews, where marginalized students may share their strengths and to become more motivated and to extend their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Dissemination of the project during cluster activity with the Milano Bicocca University
Our team members were invited to a cluster activity with the Milano Bicocca University in Italy. The University of Milano-Bicocca (Italian: Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, UNIMIB) is a public university located in Milan, Italy, providing undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate education. Established in 1998, it was ranked by the Times Higher Education 2014 ranking of the best 100 Universities under 50 years old as number 21 worldwide and first in Italy. We had the opportunity to speak with the Vice-Rector prof. Gabriella Pasi with whom we discussed opportunities for the project results exploitation onto higher level and future opportunities for collaboration has been agreed.
Awareness rising seminar with more than 60 teachers from Istanbul’ schools
On 17 December 2022, our partner, the Turkish school Uluslararası Şehit Mehmet Karaarslan Kiz Anadolu Imam Hatip Lisesi, Istanbul, Turkeye has organized MUN and informed the participants about our school projects and presented Visage4Jobs for awareness and invitation to participate in the pilot implementation phase.
Two members of our consortium were Chairpersons of the National youth competition for green and digital skills in the classroom organised by the National Agency of Erasmus+ programme in Bulgaria
Human Resources Development Center, which is the National agency of the Erasmus+ programme in Bulgaria and its National VET Expert Team organized the First Bulgarian National Competition for youth and students on the topic: “GREEN AND DIGITAL SKILLS IN THE CLASSROOM”- GREENEDU AND DIGIEDU.
The awarding ceremony was opened by Mr. Mihail Balabanov, Executive Director of HRDC, who noted that this was the last event of the year organized by the Agency, after an intensive, interesting and successful annual program. He emphasized the importance of holding it as a preparation for the work in the next year 2023, declared by the European Commission as the Year of Skills, in which we should already have overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic through education and training for the acquisition of new skills and the development of digital literacy. Over 90 participants took part in the competition. Mr. Andrean Lazarov, CEO of Bulgarian Inclusion Support team and National Vocational Training Consultant as well as Mrs. Penka Nikolova from 94 SU “Dimitar Strashimirov” and also National Vocational Training Consultant were chairpersons of the jury for competitors in the group between 7 and 11 years old and 12-15 years old respectfully, while Mr. Lazarov was the moderator of the awarding ceremony.
Important participation at the Lifelong Learning Week 2022, Brussels of our team
The LLLWeek aims to raise awareness on lifelong learning’s capacity to answer many challenges of modern societies. The LLLWeek has over time become a milestone in the European education agenda, thanks to the support of civil society actors and Members of the European Parliament. The idea is to bring together learners and educators, field workers and policy-makers, researchers and political representatives, and give them the opportunity to discuss today’s greatest educational challenges.
Representatives of the consortium from Bulgarian Inclusion Support Team have participated in two workshops – one about the RRF and the EU Semester as a new dimension of investments and reforms and the hot topic on microcredentials. The first one explored the links between NRRPs and Country Specific Recommendations provided by the Commission within the framework of the European Semester, while the second was dedicated on the policy debate with focus on practical experiences with the implementation of micro- credentials at the national level and how their approach can be extended to other EU countries. This is in line with recently approved KA3 project on policy experimentation on microcredentials, which our team is participating. More news will be provided soon.
Awareness rising meeting with 30 teachers who work with refugee students in Istanbul
On 24 November 2022, the team of WINSS, Turkeye has organised a meeting with 30 teachers who work with refugee students in a Cosmopolitan settlement. They shared their experiences and they have reviewed the pre-employment school career guidance programme toolkit and provided feedback. At the end of the meeting WINSS negotiated their involvement in the forthcoming piloting phase.
Cluster activity during workshop with ESMOVIA Spain
Our project was presented and discussed with the official guests from the ESMOVIA team from Spain. Their great experience on the management of EU projects was beneficial for our project team. We have discussed future cooperation possibilities.
ESMOVIA is a Spanish well-known organisation located in Valencia that organizes training experiences aimed at students and teachers from all over Europe. They mainly offer internships in companies, as well as Spanish courses, seminars, study visits and professional development courses, all of that through European programs such as Erasmus+ or the European Social Fund.
Year after year, many European organizations, such as vocational training centers, secondary schools, universities, public organizations, and associations, trust ESMOVIA, to complete their mobility projects and traineeships in Spain.
We have also met the Dean of the South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, Blagoevgrad, prof. Preslav Dimitrov, PhD, who introduced his projects and connections with Kazakhstan universities.
Our project team among guests of the European Innovative Teaching Award Ceremony
The European Award for Innovative Learning is an initiative of the European Commission in the field of school education, which has been held under the auspices of the Bulgarian Commissioner Mariya Gabriel since 2021.
Four educational institutions – ODZ 12 “Radost”, Burgas, OU “Hristo Smirnenski”, Haskovo, PG “Prof. Dr. Asen Zlatarov, Vidin and VET school of Chemical Technologies and Biotechnologies “Marie Curie” from Razgrad received this year’s European Award for Innovative Education in Plovdiv. The event was organized on 20.10.2022. in the city of Plovdiv from the Center for the Development of Human Resources (HRDC), and the guests of the forum, where the awardees presented their good practices, were the Deputy Regional Governor of Plovdiv, Daniela Nikolova, and the Head of Regional Educational Directorate – Plovdiv, Antoaneta Pakova. “Such awards are a wonderful occasion to show the importance of the teaching profession,” Mrs. Nikolova said in her welcome speech.
The executive director of the CDHR, Mihail Balabanov, announced that a total of 33 educational institutions were selected, and four of them were awarded. “At the European level, 98 projects from 29 countries were awarded. Next week in Brussels, they will all be awarded at an official ceremony”, added Balabanov.
“Reading without borders” is the project of “Hristo Smirnenski” Elementary School, which was awarded this year. It lasts 24 months and includes students from 6 to 14 years old. The school said that they joined forces with teachers from 9 European countries to motivate students to read. The project involves not only teachers, students, but also parents.
Vocational High School “Prof. Dr. Asen Zlatarov” from Vidin was awarded for their project, which seeks and finds connections between individual subjects. Together with colleagues from seven countries, high school teachers have developed a methodology to help teachers explain science concepts in an accessible way. The paper has been uploaded to the GoScience website. Marieta Georgieva, director of the school, said that the problem with reading comprehension is not only Bulgarian and therefore the goal of the international team was to overcome this deficit with different methods.
In the “Marie Curie” Chemical Technology and Biotechnology College, Razgrad, they practice outsourced training in companies, which disciplines the students and makes them more responsible. According to an “Erasmus+” project, children in Italy were convinced why it is important to learn foreign languages. The high school advocated education, where one topic (water, air) is considered simultaneously in different subjects – biology, chemistry, physics.
Mr. Andrean Lazarov, who is CEO of Bulgarian Inclusion Support Team and Mrs. Penka Nikolova – Project expert at 94 SU “Dimitar Strashimirov” Sofia, both National Consultants on Vocational Education and Training, presented the team’s activities, the possibilities for ensuring a more sustainable impact of the projects financed by the Erasmus+ programme, as well as the conditions for the organized from the National VET team competition for students “GREEN AND DIGITAL SKILLS IN THE CLASSROOM” (GREEN and DIGEDU).
Special teachers’ training organised as part of the Erasmus+ 35th anniversary days 2022
Our consortium supported the Erasmus+ 35th anniversary days (13-14-15 October 2022) by organising special teachers’ training based on the draft version of the Pre-employment school career guidance programme toolkit. The seminar was held on 14th October 2022 in the conference hall of Uluslararası Şehit Mehmet Karaarslan Kiz Anadolu Imam Hatip Lisesi, Istanbul, Turkeye.
The event was opened by the General principal of the school – Abdülbaki Murat. He presented the project concept and welcomed the audience. After that, a warm welcome speech was given by the director of the Bahcelievler Directorate of National Education, who welcomed the participants and pointed out the importance of this project for the improvement of the situation of vulnerable students in the area, who are coming from more than 60 countries.
After that, the event continued with the presentation by the project coordinator, the Principal of 94 SU “Dimitar Strashimirov” from Sofia, Bulgaria. She introduced the main issues, which face Roma students and the possible interventions, which the teachers and pedagogical counsellors are implementing in their daily supportive activities.
The major training part of the event was conducted by Mr. Andrean Lazarov, who is a National Consultant of Vocational Education and Training as part of the Ministry of Education and Science as well as Chief executive officer and General project manager of the Bulgarian Inclusion Support Team from Sofia, Bulgaria, who is main partner in the project. He presented the process of 15 steps towards successful job preparation of marginalised and disadvantaged students from the 11th and 12th grades in Bulgaria.
The seminar was followed by “Questions and Answers” session by Ms. Figen Sekin, President of World Innovative Sustainable Solutions, Istanbul, Turkeye as well as presentation of role play games.
Very productive and successful 2nd transnational partners’ meeting in Istanbul
In the period 13-14 October 2022, the second transnational partners’ meeting was organised in the lovely Istanbul in Turkeye.
The four project partners were welcomed by the General principal Abdülbaki Murat.
Then the partners were welcomed by violin performance and then by the students from 5th, 8th and 9th grade, who presented sketches, lyrics and presented their art-works.
The meeting was mainly concentrated on the progress of the five project activities in accordance to the action plan. The partners exchanged views on the further adaptation and enhancement of the pre-employment programme and its supportive tools. The partners shared where and how the project was disseminated.