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Support on how to integrate Diversity and Social Inclusion

Integration in education is a vital component of social justice and fundamental for a fair society, so it is must to fight and advocate for. As education is an instrument for change, increasing diversity and social inclusion there will have wide repercussions across society as a whole. Integration is a concept that must be taught and monitored for it to be accepted and enacted correctly. Diverse schools feature differences in ethnicity, socioeconomic class, religion, reading level, athletic ability, background, gender, personality, and much more. They lead to students’ increased cultural understanding, stronger critical thinking skills and enhanced creativity, which all better prepare them for adulthood. It also improves outcomes in all students1 , signifying that it is a positive concept universally. As society continually shifts, so do the parameters for education and genuine diversity, therefore, it is crucial to change training methods.

The Erasmus+ KA2 project Integration of Diversity and Social Inclusion (IDISI) seeks to update knowledge and practice in the field of education, ensuring a process of continual improvement. By training the trainers, IDISI will create a wide network of skilled professionals, capable of solving problems and integrating different demographics into education. These trainers will acquire the necessary skills to better address inclusion and diversity within the classroom, including cultural and linguistic differences, with more diverse and better-adapted teaching styles, utilising innovative solutions and technologies. Through the contents of the tool, new approaches will be sought to reduce disparities in access and participation in non-formal education, addressing issues such as discrimination, segregation and racism. Partners from the UK (CLP), Spain (Fuitec and GrowthCoop), Greece (EELI), Romania (Avensa Consulting) and Poland (Diversity Hub) will produce a module, dictating ways of increasing the skills, resources and transnational cooperation that trainers can benefit from and improve their teaching methods and tools. It will be divided into six key sections.   

Adult education   

Lifelong learning and adult education are vital for improving people’s situation and giving them the skills and knowledge required for their chosen future. Recognising that learning is a continual process, whereby people can start to fulfil their potential at any time is a cornerstone of it. It is responsible for allowing greater social and economic mobility; opening opportunities for those that previously have lacked them; and giving self-esteem to participants. Much attention is given to younger students, ignoring adult education, but it is vital for creating a dynamic society and giving back agency to those without. The project will therefore focus on these learners and their educators.

Teaching adults from groups at risk of exclusion

The second section of the module will address how to bring adults vulnerable to exclusion into education, and how for them to learn most effectively. Adult education is a powerful weapon against exclusion and a lack of integration, as it opens doors for those people who have so far lacked educational opportunities. Particular groups that have been disproportionately excluded include women, migrants, and those with disabilities. IDISI’s approach has been developed to provide them with all the tools they need to achieve autonomy and prosperity, and empower them for their integration in society.

Inclusive education

This approach goes beyond simply bringing normally excluded groups into the class, but actively creates a curriculum to mutually benefit all members. When there exists a high value on diversity, everybody experiences the associated benefits such as larger opportunities for personal growth, inspired creativity and additional educational support. It involves a process of systemic reform embodying changes and modifications in content, teaching methods, approaches, structures and strategies in education. With the shared goal of inclusion, diversity is celebrated and an atmosphere of confidence and understanding is built. This project will look for ways to give equal opportunity and conditions, and ensure quality learning for every adult student from disadvantaged groups.

Mediation and conflict management

Education should be safe space where anyone can see their best interests being served, and their wellbeing being looked after. However, in the world outside conflict often comes to a head, and the consequences can be graver when in relation to people without sufficient power to defend themselves, such as minority or excluded groups. It is therefore necessary to equip people with the tools required to mediate and resolve conflict. IDISI will contain instruments and techniques of mediation and conflict resolution that allow trainers of trainers not only to apply them in their classrooms but also to serve as tools for the students themselves to develop in their personal environments.

Specific educators’ skills

To further the goal of the integration of diversity and social inclusion, the project will target trainers of trainers by giving them specific skills to enact the inclusion, and to maximise potential and reach. Although the final purpose is the integration of diversity and the social inclusion of the most disadvantaged people with very low levels of qualification (in particular, women, immigrants and disabled people in this situation), the way to try to improve their conditions and their social integration comes from the training of the trainers who work with this group. If we have trainers of trainers with diagnostic capacity, with knowledge transfer capacity and with advisory capacity, among others, we will be very advanced in the social integration of people with very low qualifications.

Digital tools and methods useful for educators working with learners from disadvantages group

The final section of the module to be created relates to updating knowledge of digital technologies. Possessing competences in this sphere is incredibly crucial in an increasingly digitalised world, as well as having the problem solving abilities to adapt to changes. Recently there has been a large movement towards digital education, and so educators must have the ability to effectively teach online and use digital resources. This section will contain information of how to run digital lessons and make use of existing tools, as well as boosting the skills of disadvantaged groups in using technology for their own benefit.

It is clear that teachers should be trained in pedagogies that take into account diverse learning needs through multiple pedagogical strategies, flexible curricula and continuous assessment. For too long has education failed to be a force for inclusion, but instead relied on maintaining the status quo. Today inclusive education and the recognition of areas requiring additional support are becoming more common. Tools such as IDISI are needed to formalise and improve the process, benefitting educations and disadvantaged groups simultaneously. It’s aim is to take advantage of the multiplying power of trainers of trainers by laying the foundations for the integration of diversity and social inclusion in the context of adult education.

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Inclusion, Diversity, integration, migrants, vulnerable groups, adult education, social exclusion, digital tools
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