Our Association is Education for an Interdependent world; the Headquarters are in Brussels, from the start we were from countries all over the world. EDIW has two sections:
The Youth Section
We started very small but are growing fast, we shared some dreams and were able to invest time and energy. We were “Dreamers” but also wanted to work for the dreams we believed in and we became also “Doers” We now identify ourselves as “dreamers and doers” we try to become this combination through the development of projects. We think that the project is the bridge between the reality and the dream.
In order to respond to our challenges we try to develop specific projects such as:
1. “The roots and Wings project”- This was a Capacity Building Project in the field of youth, co-financed by the European Commission and coordinated by Education for an Interdependent World, which related to our five challenges and we had two seminars deepening into them. During the year we thought and worked on each of the challenges and in the seminars one in Madrid and the other in Rome we discussed them and decided how to continue. In order to explore mobility a group of six young teachers went to Manila for two months to work in three schools in a run-down area of Manila. Their experience was another element which added to our search. The project also has a publication with the reference of each of the challenges and how the group seeks to face them.
2. “The Dare+ project” addresses the issue of competences and their development outside the class room. This project relates to two of the EDIW´s youth challenges: education for all and youth employment. The capacity to build an education which is successful in developing competences is one of the key elements to an education which is relevant and able to be attractive to people of different ages and interests. Building on the potential of every student, on their strengths is an important route of leaving no one behind. In relation to employment, competence development goes beyond an education only based on knowledge to foster skills, attitudes and values which are critical to be preparing for a job a responsibility or to be able to build an entrepreneurial stand in life. In Dare+ six critical competences were developed: written and oral communication, leadership and teamwork, conflict transformation, intercultural competence, social entrepreneurship and project development. Dare+ was coordinated by the University of Granada and co-financed by the European Commission as an Strategic Partnership.
3. “Youth leaders for dialogue” is also a Capacity Building Project in the field of youth which has just started and which also counts on the support of the European Commission. During the last seminar of the Roots and Wings project, the 60 young people who participated engaged into a needs analysis with the urgency of the present challenges as the background. The needs seemed all pressing but in order to select one to deepen with a project, the need for dialogue was seen as the one to focalise into. In the project, youth leaders from groups in the four continents will follow a blended learning programme to act and learn about youth leadership and capacity to develop a dialogue which will be inclusive, participatory, based on democratic values and leading to peace. The first meeting which took place in February in Madrid witnessed a wonderful spirit of understanding beyond all kinds of borders.
Other projects are in the making such as “City-nets” dealing with youth of multiple belongings and second generation migrants and the “School for Social Leadership” linking the young leaders trained in the existing projects with the younger generations.
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The Section of Professionals
The professionals are people from different sectors of society who are ready to invest gratuitously time and energy for their contribution to a society more interconnected, more interdependent, more responsible for each other and particularly for the excluded and the vulnerable. They focus their work along three main lines: The first deals with some frontier questions they select as critical for the type of society they believe in; the second line relates to own training and keeping updated, the third line is the care and commitment for the younger generations, their empowerment, their education, the opportunities they need to also become people who are prepared and committed to the transformation of the world they need to build.
In his respect, they are particularly committed to develop internships, coaching and experiences of voluntary work in socio economic contexts both in own country as in the more deprived regions of the world. The objective is to link theory and understanding of their profession with the skill to implement them and the positive and life generating attitude needed to transform social contexts. Their specificity is the development of competences which relates to their professional mission and the global citizenship nature of those who can build new, interconnected, caring and interdependent societies and slowly build, collaborating with many other groups, also committed in this direction, an ethically responsible interdependent world.
This is done by projects-examples:
1. “Archimedes” relate to architecture and looks at the formation of the Architects, more specific it refers to the profession and the educational needs of the Architects in the Mediterranean Region. This project was done by a group of Universities and Professional schools of the region and was coordinated by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, one of the oldest and more recognized universities in Greece. EDIW professionals and young professionals interviewed social groups in the area; reflected and worked together to come up with a new profile of architect those new societies need as well as some tools and methods to develop this profile. It is co-financed by the European Commission as a Strategic Alliance.
2. “Integration without Borders” relates to the social worker´s profession and more specifically to the profile that those working with migration and minorities ought to develop in the present context. Palacký University Olomouc, the second largest university in theCzech Republic was the coordinating institution and EDIW proposed the project and intensely contributed in three of the four meta-competences which were defined and developed: Intercultural competence, project development and entrepreneurship. The fourth was management for diversity. The group of universities and associations, predominantly from Eastern Europe worked for a position of responsibility and commitment during the refugee crisis and the situation that follows. Integration without Borders is also selected as a Strategic Alliance project to be co-financed by the European Commission.
3. The strongest example is “the Tuning Project” Coordinated by the Universites of Deusto and Groningen which relates to university teachers and where EDIW has and is called to have an intense involvement. Some of the EDIW professionals were part of the initiating group and first general coordinators and the association as such is a member of the latest projects: Tuning India and Tuning South East Asia as well as taking part in the coordination of the teachers ´training group of the pilot project Comparing Achievements of Learning Outcomes in Higher Education in Europe CALOHEE. This project keeps the EDIW family in touch with large numbers of professionals in 126 countries who are passionate about higher education and invest gratuitously time and efforts, research and practice to improve it. The university teachers in this project learn together and exchange experiences with colleagues from the region and from different countries of the world. There have been several Tuning projects, some under Capacity building in the field of Higher Education and others under special actions related to Africa, USA or China.
Other groups are also in existence for years such as the group on health, the group in, entrepreneurs and so on. Others are emerging as the group of International Relations or re-emerging such as the language teachers…..
There are many challenges we experience individually, they also change in intensity. Here we refer to our challenges, the ones who experience as a group and those top five who have selected to address together. They do not follow a particular order. In fact, they are all interconnected and relate to each other. They are also multi-dimensional and could be approached in many different ways.
1. The challenge of intercultural dialogue
True dialogue is always a challenge. It is a journey from oneself into the other. Journeys can change perceptions, bring to fore unwanted levels of uncertainty, open up new realities which question former views, broaden perspectives and give new impulse to the search.
The rising need to address the challenge of intercultural dialogue, the need of facing it, the timeliness of task and the depth and the breadth it encompasses owing it is currently a necessity in both, personal and professional aspects of our lives, whichever the individual circumstances of our lives.
This includes all types of dialogue. It is critical to understand the significance of interreligious dialogue in our society where religion has a tremendous impact in millions of people while being meaningless to many others. In fact, the way religion is understood could be a cause for destruction and division or a source of immense generosity, unity and courage to create new ventures for the most vulnerable in our world.
The issue of learning to build together rather than apart is highly committing, but we believe it is crucial that young people see promoting intercultural dialogue and cooperation as a goal towards which they can and should work. This is the essence of our Project “Youth for Dialogue” which gathers youth leaders from four continents.
2. The Challenge of Education for All
Early School abandonment is an important aspect of the challenge of education for all. There are others such as the situation of children, particularly girls who will never go to school or those who being in school are exposed to such poor teaching that will never reach real education. Not going to school or the very poor level of teaching are aspects clearly recorded in the report of the millennium goals as one of the challenges of the educational goal to achieve universal Primary Education. Although this goal is considered to have reached a significant level of achievement, the limitations are also important.
Addressing early school abandonment stems from our strong conviction that education is the bases of personal growth and freedom both at personal and social levels, to be able to have a job and to be a critical and active citizen of our world.
It is also part of a much broader concern: the concern for the future of generations that will follow. We, as young people, feel particularly committed to those who, with us will build the future world; we feel committed and responsible. In the complex system of avoiding school abandonment, we have selected our own niche of action. It has two dimensions: the first- to be with those who have difficulties and are at risk of abandoning school, and/or with those who have recently dropped out of school but may still have the chance to be recovered.
We are working in both. Many of us do voluntary work regularly during the week. We have also started the exploration of new methodologies which can motivate students to stay in school impelled by progressive levels of success, otherwise not possible, and to continue with the effort. The latter has been identified as one of the most observed and documented contribution in the efforts to address the phenomenon of school abandonment. The experience of six of our members in the Roots and Wings pilot project in the Philippines is a step forward for us, but there is a long way ahead.
3. The Challenge of Youth Unemployment
Being this concept one of the macroeconomic factors that mostly hinder the proper functioning of a society, unemployment has been under the spotlight for centuries. Among its main causes are: inadequate aggregate demand, known as cyclical unemployment, advances in technology and job outsourcing, known as structural unemployment, and issues related to the job search process.
Statistics highlight serious underlying social problems, not only rooted in inadequate experience and skill mismatch of young people, but more worryingly uncovering the possible structural existence of age discrimination.
One of the most effective ways to tackle long term unemployment is to focus on the young. Providing the right tools and skills to this age segment is a sound social investment from many perspectives: mainly that a societies’ youth today will be that same society’s leadership in a generation’s time, thus allowing for long lasting positive social externalities. Also a society where the collective focus shifts to the youth has the potential to be more dynamic and open-minded, more innovative, and be synergetic and complementary to the experience-based assets of older age segments.
The search for an effective contribution is long and difficult. For the time being we have selected the road to emphasize and concentrate on the development of those competences which are most needed and required in our society. Here our project Dare+ “Developing all round education” has marked a way forward for us.
4. The Challenge of Migration
Worldwide, the number of people displaced as a consequence of violence, war or persecution has reached the highest level since World War II. Its impact on the European Union, especially since 2012, has been conceptualized as a refugee crisis that challenges a common response both at national and supranational levels. Therefore, as central as it is in academic, political and social debates, EDIW sees it as one of the most pressing challenges to deal with.
Migration, whether it is due to political conflict, natural disaster or economic reasons, brings intercultural and interreligious dialogue to our doorsteps. It challenges educational systems, citizen participation and many other aspects of every day habits, including the index of unemployment. It challenges our written and proclaimed values, making us realize how fragile they are even if they were considered strong.
Pluralism between religious and ethnic identities imposed on most of the refugees compounds the once marginalized practices of racial discrimination. In addition to that, the populist extreme wright-wing voices gain traction with the occurrences of every terrorist attack that can be associated with Islam, and thus, refugees. This fear then mutated to be an ugly form of xenophobia, diminishing the spirit of dialogue. In today´s Europe, the word `migrant´, or any term that can be associated with foreigners, represents that who is to be blamed for domestic and international problems.
The challenge of migration runs accross several of our projects but is is particularly addressed in the “City-nets project” where youths who had made the road into the new society becmoe leaders of their groups and try ways forward for different ways of belonging and inclusion.
5. The Challenge of Participation
This was always understood as a transversal challenge for us. The dimensions of the social problems, their global dimensions, and the lack of sincerity in the search for solutions is a strong source of distress, unhappiness and anxiety. We feel overwhelm by the complexity of the situations and the idea of running to our comfort zone becomes really strong. It is not easy to seek participation but we have discussed this together, together we can see and feel the wonderful things our societies and our times also bring. Together we have commented the work of those who genuinely address the problems, develop opportunities and want to build together an interconnected, with responsible relations and creative interdependence.
One of the reasons why we came together was precisely to feel stronger, to discuss a ways forward where we can feel useful to others and capable of facing the challenge of responsible citizenship. The fact of seeing that we are making steps towards our aims, with small projects, confirms the slogan that other world is possible. It is present when we work with associations who invest gratuitously in aspects of society the really feel are necessary such as ecology (one of the challenges we want to include), children´s rights, elderly people... It is also present when we spend parts of our summer in countries of “the South” doing voluntary work, when discussing issues with local or national authorities, study political science or international relations or economics or mathematics and chemistry. It is also present when with write projects for the EU Commission, discuss and simulate UN sessions, write and prepare statements for the Global compact on migration for the sessions of Geneva or New York or when we succeed in having our voice heard when some of us can get to the sessions.
This challenge is part of all projects we build, it is the essence of why we have got together because we, contrary to what some articles on us say, we do dream, probably differently, but we dream of a different world. We discovered it one day after a long discussion on migration when a video of John Lennon was played: “Imagine all peoples” even we dream with people of several generations back! We enjoy and have our own music and our own dreams but can understand other music and other dreams across geography and time.
EDIW believes in the importance of building with others and has many different partners according to the tasks and the capacities. It works in partnerships with many international organisations and associations:
EDIW has an agreement with The Teresian Associationon with consultative status in United Nations to bring the voice of the youth to this context.
The interaction with the European Union is mainly done through projects and by study visits in specific moments.
It has a large number of national associations including among others European Forum for Migration Studies in Bamberg Germany, Kundikanda in Congo or Sarpi in India
International Organizations such as the the Asean Network of Universities, theSoutheast Asia Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO-INNOTECH), the Arab League of Universities, the Consejo Superior Universitario Centroamericano –CSUCA or the Coimbra Group.
The largest number of partners relates to the universities, such as: Groningen in The Netherlands, Deusto and Granada in Spain, Bologna and Padua in Italy, Fortham in New York, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece Palacký University Olomouc in theCzech Republic, Javeriana of Bogotá in Colombia, Uppsala in Sweeden, Trinity College in Dublin, West Visayas in The Philippines, Egypt-Japan University for Science and Technology in Cairo and many others.